A Covid Journal, Day 5, Sunday, March 15, 2020 – Welcome to the Great American Coronavirus Self-Quarantine

By Bruce A. Smith

Columns like this one are beginning to appear throughout our newspapers and online, detailing the saga of so many of us in the early stages of self-protection at home. Geoffrey Fowler of the Washington Post is calling this phenomenon the “Great American Coronavirus Self-Quarantine.”

I like the term, or rather, I enjoy being part of something grand and special. In fact, since it’s not just the United States going into some form of lockdown, I like to think that I’m part of the “Great Global Self-Quarantine of 2020.”

However, another journalist has emailed me saying that I’m not in quarantine since I have ventured to the grocery store. Technically, I should be describing my efforts as self-isolation.

Regardless, I am not alone – metaphorically – since many others are staying at home, too. With that aloneness comes boredom and an edginess that borders on depression. Today, I began wondering if I had any Prozac or Celexa lying around, just in case, from when I was really isolated a few years ago. That was when I couldn’t afford to keep a car on the road and often spent days by myself in a little rental trailer on a buddy’s six acres. Now, that was depressing, and I depended every week on the goodness of others for rides to the grocery store or the doctor. Back then, I often received rides from another buddy, Ray, and today he said, “Ya know, this new, self-quarantined Bruce sounds a lot like the old Bruce.”

“That’s so true,” I replied, and we both laughed.

In reality, though, I’m actually feeling good. Medically, I feel better than I have since early December, and it is surreal to finally not be coughing every morning knowing that thousands of people around the world are struggling to breathe as the Covid-19 fills their lungs with fluid.

Plus, many caring people are checking in with me to make sure I’m okay. I am. I’ve got food, and I’m sitting comfy and cozy as I write. Loreena McKennitt is streaming through my computer’s speakers, and all feels peaceful.

I also think my friends and associates are getting in touch – to some degree – because it’s important for them to reach out to others due to their own loneliness, or in response to a free-floating anxiety about what-is-going-on-in-the-world? Since I’m publicly describing my whereabouts and status, they might feel sanctioned to call. Or not. Anyway, I welcome the contact. It’s good to be loved and cared about.

So, here are the details about what a quarantined life has been like over the past couple of days.

Yesterday, Saturday, I awoke to another two inches of snow. However, this was the real fluffy stuff. But at least we dodged the bitter cold that had been forecast. Today, it’s sunny again and in the 50s. Blessedly, my apricot tree looks okay, and its blossoms are still dancing atop their branches.

Although, my butt hurts from sitting all day – I’m either writing, talking on the phone, or binging at Netflix and Hulu – so I’m going for walks every few hours. I sense that lots of folks are doing that as well.

Along those lines, I read in the New York Times recently that the lockdown is great for NYC joggers – no tourists on the scenic walkways, and few cars to pollute the air.

Speaking of New York, I talked with my Mom on Long Island yesterday, and was surprised to hear how seriously she views the Covid outbreak.

“You know, Mom, I consider the Covid pandemic to be the biggest thing that’s ever happened in my life,” I said at the beginning of the conversation.

“Me, too,” she replied. “I wasn’t alive when the Spanish Flue hit, so I don’t know how that one would compare, but this is the biggest of my life, too.

“Really? Bigger than World War II?”

“Yes, definitely.”

Thinking of what she said, I realized that for her – the war hit when she was in her teens – the only real impact was rationing and seeing lots of men in uniform. Now, the potential impacts, such as dying, are world-wide and effect almost everyone, at least the quarantining. I love seeing the pictures from Italy where house-bound folks are singing from their balconies, or in China where residents are picnicking on their rooftops and conversing across the alley-ways. I’ve seen pictures that thrill me. One Chinese guy who’s been in quarantine for a month is writing poetry, and one of his lines stands out: “I’m like a bird in a cage.” Another pix shows a gal stuck on a cruise ship somewhere strumming her ukulele and singing about keeping herself – and others – safe.

Perhaps the most profound expression to date comes from another benefactor and colleague of mine, Steve Klein. He sent me a superb piece of poetry by a Capuchin monk in Ireland, Richard Hendrick, who penned the following;

Lockdown by Brother Richard: 

Yes there is fear.

Yes there is isolation.

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.


They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

The sky is no longer thick with fumes

But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi

People are singing to each other

across the empty squares,

keeping their windows open

so that those who are alone

may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland

Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know

is busy spreading fliers with her number

through the neighbourhood

So that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples

are preparing to welcome

and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting

All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality

To how big we really are.

To how little control we really have.

To what really matters.

To Love.

So we pray and we remember that

Yes there is fear.

But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is panic buying.

But there does not have to be meanness.

Yes there is sickness.

But there does not have to be disease of the soul

Yes there is even death.

But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic

The birds are singing again

The sky is clearing,

Spring is coming,

And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

And though you may not be able

to touch across the empty square,


Today, the Irish newspaper, Irish Central, says that “Brother Richard shared his poem ‘Lockdown’ in a Facebook post on Friday, March 13. His original post has received more than 19k positive reactions and has been shared more than 34k times.”


In related news, Ireland is closing its pubs and canceling St Patrick’s Day parades nationwide. Seizing the moment, Guinness Breweries has announced, “WE WILL MARCH AGAIN!”

As for the lockdown, I’m living in a quasi-state. Locally, all churches, schools, and libraries are closed, including my Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment. But grocery stores and health facilities are open, along with gas stations and convenience stores.

My buddy Dave just got back from our local Big Box food store, Fred Meyer, and reports that the shelves were mostly stocked, but specific items were missing, such as my requested Chobani “peach” yogurt. However, they had black cherry and strawberry, which are adequate substitutes. Certainly better than the almond-milk yogurt from the Mountain Coop in Eatonville that I bought last Thursday on my solo run into town. That stuff ranged from nauseating to I-could-eat-it-if-I-really-had-to.

Dave’s report is in stark contrast to the “war zone” descriptions I got from Ray a few days earlier. Last evening, Ray followed up on his initial experience to say that his son, who works in a large grocery store, said that panic-buying sales last week were 25% greater than what his workplace does at Christmas time.

Life in quarantine is developing some new routines, especially digitally. I’ve participated in two remote rehearsals for Resi, The Musical. The first was by Skype for a small group of us, and yesterday the full cast of fifteen did a read-through via a conference call. Glitches, delays, and foul-ups occurred throughout, but we got the job done. This seems to be the way it will be for the foreseeable future. Gawd know when we’ll actually perform our show, since all the theaters are closed in Seattle, including the one where we were scheduled – but as Maria sings in West Side Story, “Somewhere, Somehow…”

Personally, I’m all set to stay in quarantine for a full two weeks, until March 26 or so. After that, it’ll be a wait and see proposition, but I expect that since I’m at such a high-risk due to age and on-going lung and cardiac issues, I’ll need to stay in quarantine for another two weeks after that, until April 8 or thereabouts.

But if the Unites States goes the way of Italy and China, and now Spain, with whole countries in full lockdown, my quarantine could extend into months of limping along, doing what I can to stay healthy and safe.

I salute and thank all the folks who are working the grocery stores and clinics, and especially the truck drivers who continue to deliver what we need to our stores.

God Bless.


Update: Sunday March 15, 2020 – Midnight

  • President Donald Trump announced that today, March 15, 2020 to be a National Day of Prayer to help us all heal and stay safe from Covid. I applaud this news, as I think it is very important for all of our leaders to recognize the link between our bodies and spirit. In fact, I would like to see National Health Care require a spiritual commitment from all those who received governmental benefits. That could include meditation, prayer, long thoughtful walks, or even a quiet cup of contemplative tea under a tree.
  • An Evergreen Health Hospital Emergency Room physician has Covid and is in critical but stable condition, the New York Times is reporting this evening. Evergreen Health is in Kirkland, Washington, and is the main hospital in this Covid hot spot. In addition, eighteen patients from the nearby LifeCare nursing home in Kirkland have died since the outbreak began there three weeks ago.
  • Washington Governor Jay Inslee has issued an order to close all restaurants and taverns, and bans all gatherings of more than 50 people.

Gov. Inslee shuts down restaurants, bars, and gatherings over 50 persons


2019, 4, DSCF5066e, touchdown, excellent

L’Chaim. Yours truly, feeling good. Pix By Luby M.




This entry was posted in Covid-19, Culture, Eatonville News, Health, Politics, Self Reliance, Spirituality. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Covid Journal, Day 5, Sunday, March 15, 2020 – Welcome to the Great American Coronavirus Self-Quarantine

  1. Cliff Jones says:

    Well said my friend, we need a quarantine at the lake in Wauwepex LOL Maybe for the entire spring and summer LOL Stay safe

  2. brucesmith49 says:

    That would be HEAVEN!

    For those MN readers who don’t know what Wauwepex is, Camp Wauwepex is the Boy Scout Camp Cliff and I spent many years at. We share our many camp stories here at the MN. Clink on “Wauwepex” in the category section.

  3. brucesmith49 says:

    Editor’s Note:
    The following comes from a new Mountain News reader, Shary:

    Good Morning,
    I did enjoy it so much. It’s great getting to know you better and I too, stream Loreena McKennett and play Dante’s Prayer over and over and over….you get the picture!

    Thank you for including me in your pages of life. It certainly helps with the isolation.


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