Under the Sheltering Sky Readers share their thoughts about life under the COVID-19 threat

Art | Adobe Stock


By Joe Livernois

Concern for others, a worry that nobody seems to have enough information about the coronavirus — and a healthy dose of humor — seem to be the prevailing moods of Monterey County residents under the sheltering sky.

“The speed at which information is changing is dizzying,” said Denese Sanders, artist and director of Open Ground Studios in Seaside. “Our days now are made up of getting computers up to speed to handle daily Zoom sessions with siblings, colleagues, studio mates, parents … This ain’t Kansas anymore.”

Earlier this week, Voices of Monterey Bay asked readers to share what they’re learning, how they’re coping and what how they expect to keep themselves busy or entertained in the coming days. The coronavirus and the potential for a worsened pandemic forced most of us indoors. Away from work and away from social gatherings. So we want to know how you’re all holding up.

“I’m 76, in good health and I’m not panicking over the possibility of getting the virus, plus I’m doing all the suggested safety things,” Liz Nolan of Salinas told us. “The thing that most concerns me is the food and water situation down the road. Are there national efforts to keep food distribution networks functioning? Are there trucks on the road with grocery store supplies? I have no idea how much food/water to keep in my house for the future. Grocery stores have less and less on shelves but I don’t want to hoard. I have about one week worth of simple food: canned beans, crackers, canned greens, rice, cheese, and I already own a water filter to filter tap water for drinking.”

Kathy Whilden of Monterey said she is “tired of hiding out at home.” And she wonders if she’d be able to move freely in the world if she survives a bout with coronavirus. “I hope so but everything will be closed,” she mused. “I see (in the future) that there will be two groups, one who is immune to the virus going out for meals and drinks and others staying at home afraid of catching the virus.”

"Grocery stores have less and less on shelves but I don’t want to hoard."

Karen Kadushin, a former dean at Monterey College of Law, said that she started sheltering in place even before Monterey County forced the issue on Tuesday. But she admitted she’s “feeling pretty isolated.” A friend cheered her up the other day by sending her a website from which she can take virtual tours of a dozen of the great museums of the world.

“Try this out today for relief from boredom and/or anxiety,” she said.

Karen Smith Araujo also said she discovered the virtual museum tours site, but she also suggested we don’t overlook the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s live animal cameras. The aquarium is closed for the next couple of weeks, but its Jelly Cam is still in operation. So are nine other happy and soothing animal cameras. Check them out here.

Kevin Dayton, the Government Affairs Liaison officer for the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, said he’s kept himself busy during the past week trying to respond to what is certainly a major blow to the region’s economy.

“Since Tuesday evening, the chamber has been asked to respond publicly to various challenges and we have been quick to do so,” he said. “I can’t say we’ve been perfect, but considering there is no existing playbook and not a lot of leadership examples to emulate, I think we’ve done relatively well in trying to serve our members and the community in general.”

Dayton spent the weekend digging through about 100 city and county government meeting agendas to see how other municipalities were responding.

“Most local governments were either doing nothing, not meeting, or simply declaring coronavirus emergencies in order to be eligible for state and federal funding. In the moment of crisis, not many leaders were emerging.”

By Tuesday Dayton compiled a list of ideas about how local residents can support their local businesses and providing business owners with links to sources where they can get help for themselves and their employees.

And Doug Gamble of Carmel is apparently using his coronavirus-inspired down time to hone his sense of humor. “I’m taking social distancing very seriously and I’m not taking any chances,” he told us. “I now stand six feet away from the mirror.”

And then there’s this: “The virus can cling to hard surfaces, so my wife can still touch me on a muscle without worrying.”

And this: “I’m looking forward to President Trump’s ‘State of the Toilet Paper’ address.”

Meanwhile, we also asked friends and readers to suggest appropriate reading material that can get us through the weeks (months?) of isolation. We started with some of the more obvious recommendations: “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis, “The Stand” by Steven King, “The Plague” by Albert Camus, The Book of Revelation by God, and “Animal Farm” by George Orwell.

Other recommendations started pouring in. George Sanchez suggested “Transmigration of Bodies” by Yuri Herrera. Cynthia Vaughan Granberg liked “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel. We don’t know how we forgot about “World War Z” by Max Brooks, but Jamie Hartshorn remembered. Then there’s “Barbarian Days” (suggested by David Royal), “A Year of Wonder” (Katie Coburn), “The Earth Abides (Kate Novoa) and “The Hot Zone” (Kathy McKenzie).

Looking for some nonfiction inspiration? Mara Reynolds suggests “Emergent Strategy” and “Pleasure Activism” by adrienne marie brown. If you dare, Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Sower” and “Parable of the Talents” are timely in a seriously uncanny way, even at more than two decades old. She even wrote about a President who wants to “make America great again.”

Meanwhile, we’d love to hear your own thoughts about our new reality. Send your comments to joe@vomb.org

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Joe Livernois

About Joe Livernois

Joe Livernois has been a reporter, editor and columnist in Monterey County for 35 years.