The shut down because of Covid-19 is now in its third week here in Portland. It is starting to get me down a little.
The last time I sat down with anyone besides Auntie Bridgett or Grandpa Nelson was March 11, when I had a cup of Golden Fire tea with dear Misha Moon at the Rocking Frog. Now, with the extra time imposed on us, we have both finished drafts of our stories that we were talking about.
That same day I met a good soul named Roger, and we exchanged stories of our childhoods in Southern California. His had a stepdad who was a building inspector in Watts, not far from where we lived for a while in Bellflower.
Grandpa Nelson and I had lunch at McMenamin’s Barley Mill the next day, just before they closed up shop for the duration.
These are the sort of chance meetings and conversations that I have taken for granted, and now, for a while at least, they are over. I miss my species.
We eat, chat, read and write, here in our pleasant little house. There is enough room that we can be alone when we need to be, and we have games and movies and food, and even enough toilet paper. There is nothing really wrong, as long as we stay inside and away from people.
So, I heave a big sigh and tell myself to get over it, and decide what to do today.
One of the reasons we bought the house we did, here in the Southeast part of Portland, is because of the neighborhood. It is a nice mix of Victorian style homes and newer houses, full of big trees and rhododendron bushes, and just a few blocks away from fabulous Laurelhurst Park.
It is also close to dozens of bars, restaurants, and cool shops, and even a Korean grocery store. We love being able to walk less than a block for milk or eggs at H Mart.
But it is the little restaurants and the people who run them that make our Friday nights special. Pulled pork, shrimp with grits, a glass of wine while hanging with David at at the Hobnob. Watching scifi movies and having dessert with Mitch at The Nerd Out. Street tacos and chatting with Gilly at Ankeny Tap and Table. Making our own birthday pancakes at SlappyCakes. You know, the good times.
And it is exactly these small restaurants that are suffering during the shut down mandated by the corona virus. Keeping everyone safe and distant means the dining rooms have to close, and there just isn’t enough take-out business.
The only businesses close by that are doing well are H Mart and the smaller convenience stores like Plaid Pantry and Belmont Market, and pizza places like Baby Doll and Straight From New York Pizza, who are doing take out and even free delivery.
I am worried about a lot of things, lately. Staying healthy, and keeping Auntie Bridgett and Grandpa Nelson well. What this virus’s stay in our country will cost in jobs and retirement investments. Whether our Federal government, which doesn’t seem to have a good grasp on things, is going to make things better instead of worse.
But I am also worried about the survival of the small businesses that make our neighborhood special.
I turned 64 last week, just a week or so after the self-quarantine-ing became a big thing. We three walked to Whole Foods, on Burnside, who are limiting the number of people in the store at one time to reduce crowding. We got birthday dinner fixings, and then stopped by Vino for a wonderful French red to keep us company.
Auntie Bridgett even got flowers, and we walked home to read, write, do art, practice French, and wait for dinner.
We prettied things up, of course, because, you know, BIRTHDAY! It was fun getting out serving pieces that were gifts from family and friends, and thinking about the folks who weren’t with us.
After dinner we walked through Laurelhurst Park, very aware that any day now, Mayor Wheeler and Governor Brown are going to put out the shelter-in-place order. We enjoyed the frisbee dogs, rhododendron blooms, and ducks. We even got a Unipiper ride by! He was playing The Superman Theme Song…very heroic.
I’m sure I will find things to write about in the coming weeks, as the city shuts down. My brain has always been my best friend and has lots of interesting things to say.