Sunday, April 19, 2020

Pandemic Pandemonium- Corona Leave Us Alone-a!

“Wild and noisy disorder or confusion; uproar” is the definition of pandemonium. Pandemic we all know as a worldwide epidemic.

“Pandemonium” may not be the best word for the headline of this post. The past several weeks have not been filled with wild and noisy disorder. COVID-19 has been the silent killer causing an orderly shutdown of societies around the world.

Early March appointment at my dermatologist. Just a precaution
after I said at check-in that I had recently been out of the country. I was
in Portugal in late January/early February but told the
woman I was in Italy. I don’t think she thought my joke was funny. 
But, hey, I like alliteration so I’ll stick with Pandemic Pandemonium.

It would be a sin if I didn’t post about the coronavirus crisis, the most disruptive world event since the 9/11 terror attacks 19 years ago.

So far, my family and I have been spared hardships. For that, I am grateful to God above. With our children living in New York City and Chicago, Alesia and I have worried about their well being, especially #1 son in the Big Apple.

What I want to do in this post is share my photographs that capture the big and little picture of what much of the world has been seeing and experiencing.

I expect to add many images during the weeks and months ahead as the pandemic continues to evolve and eventually-we all hope and pray- devolve.

Walmart on Dorchester Road in Oakbrook area

Walmart- Toilet paper has been hard to come by since the nation began shutting down in mid-March.

Harris Teeter near Wescott neighborhood  

At Harris Teeter grocery stores, the same story. People want to make sure their most basic needs are covered leading to a run on toilet paper, paper towels, moist wipes, and hand sanitizers.
(Above) Empty Starbucks in Mt. Pleasant and (below) my
Bank of America on Ashley Phosphate Road in North Charleston

I was at this Starbucks in Mount Pleasant that was in the last day or two of allowing customers to pick up orders to go. People could not stay inside or sit outside. The next step that continues to this day is that the drive through windows only are open. And now all Starbucks workers must wear safety masks.

By late March, Bank of America near me (below) placed markers on the floor so proper “social distancing” can be practiced. Now the lobby is closed and only the drive thru and ATM inside the entrance are open for business.

Playgrounds, parks, beaches and most other recreational places have been closed for weeks now. In my neighborhood, the rims were removed from basketball goals. Sorry to the many boys who played hoops here. But the precaution is understandable. I’m glad the tennis courts were kept open because I play regularly.

On Sunday, March 29 I Went to SC State in Orangeburg to get some things out of my office. Classes had been canceled for a few weeks but we were told that this day was the last day that we could get on campus. The school has been closed to everyone but essential personnel since then. 

Campus was a ghost town. 

Our Communications Program floor in the Crawford Building was eerily quiet (and lighted). 

About the only signs of life I saw were these gorgeous roses and this Northern Mockingbird. 

I also teach one course at the College of Charleston.  I needed to go to my office there yesterday (had to be let in the building by a CofC police officer) and this campus was also very quiet. 

In Charleston it should be peak tourism season right now. But the coronavirus pandemic has pretty much shut down the city.

During a Charleston visit a few weeks ago we did see signs of life along the historic Battery. This was refreshing to see. The social distancing orders were being maintained on land and water. 

People and pets seemed to enjoy the warm sun and fresh air. 

It took me a little while but I eventually figured out when and where to find the much-in-demand toilet paper. On the past three Fridays, I arrive at the Publix store near where I live before it opens at 
8 a.m. There have been lines with other early birds waiting to get the first crack at necessities. 

Getting there early has allowed me to find limited new supplies of TP. The first time it was limited to one per customer but this past time you could get two precious packages.

Wipes like this have also been hard to find. There were only two left. I could have taken both, but not wanting to hoard, I just picked up one. 😀

Gasoline prices have plummeted during the pandemic, as demand has diminished due to restricted travel. No complaints here about that! 

Among the ways I’ve been passing the time has been playing this online card game called Blackjackist. I fear I have become somewhat addicted to it. But a recent bad luck spree has me determined to not play it as often. I have resisted buying any chips and I think that’s why sometimes I can go days with bad hand after bad hand. 

PJ is my avatar.

Along with school work (the semester is almost over) I’ve been keeping busy with projects around the house, trying to get my exercise in, taking pictures of birds in my backyard (see below) and eating probably way too much.

A few weeks ago I was able to catch up with family members coast to coast through Zoom. We talked about doing this again in April so hopefully, that will happen soon. 

My niece Nicole Grebb is a fashion designer based in Santa Fe, N.M. She designed a line of stylish face masks. I ordered several for us, my parents and our children. They arrived today. Her company is called Lisiere. Here’s her website:

April 24- Scoring more precious TP (and Charmin, my wife’s favorite brand) at Publix

Having a little fun with the cool PhotoFunia app


 Bike riding around the neighborhood has become part of the new normal while sheltering at home.

This week I finally finished a book that I began way back in late January. It’s about a South Carolina planter who became a Confederate general during the Civil War. I was familiar with general Arthur Middleton Manigault because he is buried at Magnolia Cemetery and I wrote about him in my “In the Arms of Angels” Magnolia Cemetery book. 
I took the book to Portugal (see my blog post!) with me earlier this year and somehow managed to lose it. I was able to buy a copy online to continue reading it with plans to take it to the College of Charleston library where I had checked out the first book that I lost. But I decided that I really want to have a copy of the book myself so I found a second copy online and that’s the one I plan to get to the library. I feel really bad losing a library book like that so I want to make good on things. 

Life Goes In For Our Feathered Friends

Rose-breasted Grosbeak ("lifer" bird for me on Sunday, April 19!) 

Yellow-rumped Warbler 
House Finch 
Northern Cardinal 

Canada Geese new family

Four of the eight youngsters that came to my yard with their parents last week. 

Canada Goose on the roof too! 

Saturday, May 2 - The malls and department stores are finally starting to reopen. This Marshall’s in the Wescott area on Dorchester Road reopened today to big business. We went in and forgetting to bring my face mask I was a little uncomfortable. We didn’t buy anything because the line was too long. Seemed that a lot of pent up demand was being relieved by shoppers tired of sheltering at home. 

Next week restaurants will be able to reopen with outdoor dining only, and carry out will continue too. But for this weekend as in past weeks restaurant food needed to be eaten outside around the car, while sitting in the car (as I’ve done a few times), or at home. I took this picture while in the drive-through at Starbucks on Rivers Avenue.

Sunday, May 3- Most parks in the Charleston area reopened this weekend. We went downtown and spent some time on a gorgeous Sunday at White Point Garden. This is a large park on the harbor filled with grand live oak trees and historic markers commemorating events and people from Charleston’s long history. 

Wednesday, May 6- Some stores at Northwoods Mall have opened including Dillards and Belk. And also outdoor dining is now allowed at local restaurants including these two near where I live. Slowly things or somewhat returning to normal. 

Time well spent: earning first level distance learning certification at South Carolina State University. I'm taking the advanced course in June. 

May 8- First sit down, dine in (outside anyway) restaurant meal in a few months. We had an early dinner in Charleston at Royal American bar and grill on Morrison Drive. It was a pleasant atmosphere. No server service- we ordered then picked up the food in a brown bag. The restaurant is across from a COVID-19 drive-thru testing center. Where we sat we could see the Ravenel Bridge and a car-carrying train that zoomed by. 

Earlier Friday, I finished most grading for my SC State classes. I’ll turn in final grades on Monday. SC state will be doing a virtual graduation ceremony later this month. I will have to check that out. The outdoor graduation at Dawson football Stadium wants to be today May 8. Some 400 students are set to graduate. 
Alesia has been busy the last two weeks conducting training for people at her company. Our home office is proving to be ideal during the COVID-19 ordeal.  

May 16- The gradual reopening continues. This Burlington store at Northwoods Mall had a big sale that drew big crowds. Workers carefully tracked the number of customers inside, meaning a bit of a wait outside. 

Earlier I was at the Starbucks near Tangerine Outlet which now allows customers to order in the lobby but then wait outside until the order is ready. I did this as the car line was very long. Circles on the ground showed where people should stand, per the social distancing precautions. 

I’m being very cautious, still wearing a face mask when going into stores such as Walmart on May 18. 

Tuesday, May 19- A couple more coronavirus pandemic era firsts. First indoor restaurant meal since the mass closings in March. This was lunch at Steel City Pizza near where we live. There was plenty of distancing between tables and our server wore a face mask and surgical gloves. The food was great! Felt like normal times frankly. 


And my gym, Gold’s Gym, reopened this week. Masks are voluntary. I opted to wear one. Most others there did not, which I found surprising. And I was also taken back by seeing some handshakes and fist pumps. But, hey, people are just happy to be able to work out again, I guess. 

Saturday, May 23- The swimming pool in my neighborhood opened today under pandemic precautions. Residents (no guests allowed) must make a reservation. Only 50 people at a time can be at the pool. After three hour increments the pool is closed for one hour to be cleaned. 

It was a hot day in the low 90s and the pool water felt great. So we can live with this new normal. 

Another sign of a return to normalcy (somewhat) was being able to go to the beach Memorial Day Weekend.  On Sunday we hit the beach on Edisto Island and had a great time.  Here's my blog post about that. 

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