The stay-at-home orders have offered a unique opportunity to consider some things about our lives that we might not have taken the time to do prior to this crazy pandemic. It appears that Washington State has taken a hard look at the data and determined that strong measures were in order. Though none of us likes it, the measures we’ve adopted have kept us from being one of the nation’s terrible hot-spots.
My family business, Suburban Opticians, did not completely close down, as we were considered an essential business because we are technicians that repair, service and manufacture glasses. But the truth is we had to completely restructure how we operate. Hours were drastically cut; our employees had to furlough and take fewer hours so we operated with a skeleton crew. Nowadays, we ask our customers to drive up, call us, and we then take their orders to their cars; masked and gloved. It’s been tough to change our normally welcoming format to a more cautious one. Our advertising has been limited to a “play-it-safe” message without all the lovely pictures of people enjoying themselves in spring and summer activities.
For me personally, this was the year I had planned to retire and go out with a bang. But perhaps NOT! We had already put into motion the plans for a retirement party this fall. That may not be happening because of travel restrictions and a recommendation of smaller gatherings. So—no bang! But in my heart, I am now more ready to quietly retire and just peek in on my staff a few times a month, or if someone needs a few days off. Previously, I think I was rather hesitant to leave my job of 47 years behind. But now I am reminded of what most retired people say, “I don’t know when I had time to work!” Quarantine has taught me to slow down, enjoy smaller projects, dream of a time we WILL be able to travel and enjoy the grandkids more. Ken and I made a commitment to walk at least 2-2.5 miles a day and I’m shocked we’ve stuck to our goal. Now we look forward to getting out for fresh air and try to find new paths to trek. He is a faithful walker.
The biggest project I undertook these last 3 months is making masks for friends and family. I started with the NICU staff at Multicare, then my staff, my family, my church family and now I send 15-20 masks every few weeks to a friend who distributes them to homeless shelters. It has given me a great sense of accomplishment. The problem was not being able to run to Joann Fabric every time I needed supplies like thread and cloth, and especially elastic. I’ve pretty much obliterated my stash of these things. Dianne Stefanko and I offered our masks to anyone and asked only for a donation to the Kitchen Fund. We didn’t make a haul, but enough to be noteworthy on the fund raising line. I’ve made more than 275 masks. I discovered I’m totally happy at the sewing machine.
The other thing I’ve learned about myself is how much emptiness I feel about missing so much church. I miss all the dear faces of our friends, I miss choir, and I miss the music and the worship. I miss the liturgy and serving the chalice, setting the altar for Eucharist. I miss washing the linens, coffee hour, evening bible studies and more. There is a sense of connectedness through all these things we take for granted every week. Now I listen to worship music on Pandora.
So my new reality is looking forward to retirement, spending more time with the grandkids when this is over, enjoying the good wine now, and finding that next sewing project. I see a quilting class in my future.
God bless to you my dear friends, stay safe, wear a mask, wash your hands—and for heaven’s sake, wash your glasses too!!

Thoughts on the quarantine by Pam Rhodes