The Way We Live Now #2

Sebastopol’s AIM mail center is still open, because it is a mail pick-up for people. The counter person who mailed a book for me the other day said mail delivery packages coming in have tripled since the first week of March.

They are staffing the place with one worker. I don’t know how much longer they will be able to do that as mail-orders increase.


My neighbor a few doors down walks every day, to Graton and back, usually. It takes about two hours. She is a high-energy person (I know, she worked at Public Health before she retired and I met with her quite a bit), and she says she needs the walks to stay sane. The other day we talked — me in the front yard, her on the street. She wore cargo pants, a blouse and light jacket, an expedition hat with the sun-guard around the back, and a bandanna tied over her face. I said, “I like your mask.”

She said, “This is what I wear when I walk the Camino de Santaigo de Compostela. I call it my Camino get-up.”


Sebastopol Hardware limits the number of customers at a time in their store. The store has a lot of narrow aisles. It would be difficult, to put it mildly, to observe social distancing. The garden entrance is the official entrance and the east-facing door is the official exit. Employees with face masks and hand-sanitizer monitor each door.

The same is true of their “south complex,” the other building they have, which houses paint, sporting equipment, clothing and pet supplies. In that one, they have taped down In and Out arrows on the floor of the one door, where a masked employee stands guard.


Yesterday, I tried out a light industrial mask when I went into AIM and later to the grocery store. When I ordered from the meat counter, the butcher’s assistant said, “What?” and I had to repeat it. I couldn’t use my own bags for the groceries, even if I bagged my own. They are concerned about the virus being transferred from my bag onto a hard surface and potentially onto a human before that surface gets cleaned the next time.

Today I wore the mask with a scarf tied over it. It’s a work in progress.

It’s all a work in progress.


I have a small and growing stack of gift cards from restaurants and bookstores. I saw on Nextdoor the other day that I’m not the only one. Someone was offering them. I’ve offered them on Facebook and had one taker so far.

As far as books — personally, for me, an essential service — many bookstores are selling online or via the phone, and shipping. Here is an incomplete list.

Every one of these stores will cheerfully sell you a gift card, too.

All of these things work. Nothing works 100%. Everyone I encounter is doing the best they can do to stay safe and keep themselves safe. Things evolve and reverse as we learn more and as we watch the models of other countries and states. Some states are working together to pool and deploy needed medical equipment.

A tiny but loud minority says and does really stupid stuff. And neighbors are being neighbors, good bad, endearing and irritating. Proof that some things don’t change, even the way we live now.

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