Life in the California COVID-19 Lockdown

How’s life under quarantine? I bust out daily (unless my wife strenuously objects) to try to get supplies. This is supposedly officially allowed by the Shelter In Place Order, to wit:

For purposes of this Order, individuals may leave their residence only to perform any of the following “Essential Activities.” But people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and people who are sick are urged to stay in their residence to the extent possible except as necessary to seek medical care.

1) To engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members (including, but not limited to, pets), such as, by way of example only and without limitation, obtaining medical supplies or medication, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home.

2) To obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others, such as, by way of example only and without limitation, canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products, and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences.

3) To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this Section, such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, or running.

4) To perform work providing essential products and services at an Essential Business or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in this Order, including Minimum Basic Operations.

5) To care for a family member or pet in another household.”

During this time Convenience stores, hardware stores, farmers markets, gas stations, auto supply/repair, banks, plumbers, electricians, post offices, laundromats can all stay open. Childcare centers will remain open with restrictions. Restaurants can only deliver or provide take out options: no dining in.

I’m 70, but I still gotta’ eat, wipe my ass (which I prefer to do with that unobtainium: toilet paper), and I can’t stand going stir-crazy. So on outings I will go; but fear not I have NO PROBLEM staying far away from all of my fellow Americans, ever (I’m a socialist misanthrope).

I think we in this household will have enough toilet paper; we only have double our usual not excessive supply, a fortunate last-minute buy about 7 days ago. I can’t get any more oatmeal (my standard survival ration), and forget about anything for hygiene like laundry soap (I’ll have to use dish liquid or Cascade dishwasher granules, for washing clothes).

Yesterday, before the midnight deadline for starting this porous curfew, we rented seven DVDs from our local (and very rare) video renting store, to wile away our boring hopefully germ-free staycation. Beyond that I have my homemade collection of geology and nature documentary DVDs, as well as a few bought old chestnut movie DVDs (Goldfinger, Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, Women In Love, Lawrence Of Arabia, Casablanca, The Big Sleep, Treasure of Sierra Madre, and some other minor classics), which are here loved only by me it seems. And we have books! I’m currently reading “The Invisible Invaders, Viruses and the Scientists Who Pursue Them,” by Peter Radetsky. Thank god for reading, but one does get bleary-eyed, weary and butt-sore from too much reading.

I suppose when we’ve eaten down our food stores we’ll be reduced to ketchup of stale saltines. Hope I don’t have to call 911 and beg for food, playing the old card. I did manage to buy some Bushmills and vodka on the Ides Of March (liquor stores are “food stores” by the Shelter In Place Order, aren’t they?), to accompany me during the Biden-Bernie debate. So, I could continue to strain my liver to wile away the time during the lockdown, though my fortitude for booze ain’t what it used to be. But alcohol does kill germs. Yesterday, I did manage to score a whole chocolate cake and two tubs of coffee ice cream for my 3 week long socially distanced birthday party, which last night was accompanied by watching the 1971 movie “Panic in Needle Park.” (Appropriate, n’est-ce pas?)

I look enviously at the cats, their lives have not changed. Canned cat food remains easily available (and no I don’t want to eat any, even the pricey stuff from Canada), and they still go outside for their carefree galavanting (the birds on my hillside are quite aware of our young cats, and easily taunt them without hazard, by singing out and cawing their mutual warnings from on high). I’m saddened by the dearth of hummingbirds. In 2015 I had literally hundreds (four big feeders going fulltime), but since 2017 very few. I suspect a great dying from climate change and the wildfires since 2016. Who knows?, maybe the animals all wish the same for us from COVID-19 or an even harsher superbug, for their salvation from habitat-loss extinction.

I see an enormous traffic on Facebook now (even me, and I hate it!) because of so many sequestered and bored people. I suspect all Counterpunch-focused writers are ‘scribbling’ (pecking) away from sheer boredom besides the urge to “save the world;” probably enough articles for several Counterpunch Lockdown Special Editions (which might be a needed mercy to so many stir-crazed readers).

Anyway, that’s my Lockdown Saint Patrick’s Day report on life in the California COVID-19 quarantine.

Manuel Garcia Jr, once a physicist, is now a lazy househusband who writes out his analyses of physical or societal problems or interactions. He can be reached at