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Sheltering in place with Pepe

Life with Pepe

For the past year I've been good about following the medical experts' recommendations to SIP (shelter in place) with personal and social separation. However, I did take advantage of the isolation recommendations to get out with the slightest excuse for essential needs shopping and "walking the dog." After all, isolation from the virus does not mean staying inside. Living in a somewhat rural, small mountain community has given Pepe and I some freedom to get out of the house.

With the COVID-19 infections soaring in Southern California – and the statewide increase – combined with an even more infectious variant, Pepe and I have hunkered down more than ever. Pepe mostly sleeping on the couch. I'm watching Netflix, Curiosity Stream, reading and trying to avoid boredom with a few putter projects, meal planning and domestics. It is not worth the risk to get out for some minor essential need that really is not essential. We did have our daily 2 to 3 mile hike, however, the cold and wet reduced our walks to the short trip to the mailbox as both of us hate the wet. Especially Pepe.

Winter finally arrived, full force, in Tehachapi last month. We had mild, mostly dry weather during the previous few weeks. One night late last month the temperature suddenly dropped, remaining daytime temperatures held steady at about freezing for the next several days. One of my water lines froze. The cold is no problem for a short daily walk. I bundle up, Pepe has a sweater.

I had made reservations at an inexpensive condominium, over a year ago, to spend January and February in Mazatlán, Mexico this winter. Pepe had been approved by the landlord to accompany me. The previous two winters were spent, during the cold winter weeks, with cruises along the Mexican Riviera and through both of the Panama Canals. We also spent a few weeks in Hawaii. There were a few days, between our travels, when we were home in Tehachapi.

I did very little during our brief at-home visits between trips except putter. We had been away from home so much that I did not have TV or internet service in my home. I would read a lot and be bored. This winter was to be different. We would not be home for even a short period of time. Then, of course, the pandemic set in and life made a drastic change. Sigh.

Most seniors today are resilient. We've been through so much during our lives. Raised with Depression Era parents, WWII, Korea, the Cultural changes of the 1960s, Vietnam, the racial issues in the 1950s, followed with the recent BLM movement, women's lib and political unrest to name a few other life changing incidents. Major technological changes came during our lifetime and now a pandemic such as mankind has not seen in 100 years. Most of us have adapted to these changes with little impact on our mental well-being.

We're not particularly happy about some of these changes; and this pandemic is not our "first rodeo" to force a change in our lives. We've been through so much before and know how to handle stress. However, advancing age and declining general health are roots for depression and the ongoing crisis is taking its toll.

Despite isolation, SIP and separation loneliness, most geriatrics are able to resist the pressures that are brought on everyone today. Of course, some can hunker down with other loved ones. Or, in my case, having Pepe constantly at my side. Electronic communication has certainly helped me to deal with the loneliness. And how different life would be without the internet.

The promise of an effective vaccine has brightened my outlook considerably and I have registered for a vaccination appointment. I've been assured that I will be notified when my turn becomes available. That vaccination, once I get it, will not mean I can even begin to make plans for life to return to the old normal. Meanwhile, Pepe and I will continue to hunker down, shelter in place and isolate ourselves as much as possible. When in public areas I will continue to practice separation and wear a double mask.