22 March, 2022

Tuesday Tales - Cabin Fever

It's been a week, so we went back for a follow-up test: Both positive.

We're being good. 

We're staying in. 

We have ordered delivery, and we place the money on the table in our front yard and watch and greet them from the front door when the delivery arrives and they leave it and take the money. (Both meals and groceries)  

We haven't gone anywhere. 

The other day, I stepped out the gate during a quiet time on our street, and it felt strange. But it was nice to be out of the confines of our house. 

We want to go out! We can order food in, but the store that delivers dry goods is not our local grocery, and we haven't seen our favorite vendors at the open-air fresh market in weeks! Not to mention just riding out for a cup of coffee or to hang with friends.

We feel okay! If not for the pandemic, we'd probably be out and about in public again.

Brett feels much better. Almost no chest constriction anymore, and no discernible cold symptoms. 

As for me, my sore throat is, as of this morning, gone. I've taken to sleeping in the living room on our tiny settee. (The British term feels more appropriate here, because it's not quite as big as a love seat, and half as plush. Maybe I'm mis-using the term?) Sleeping there has me at odd angles that seem to prevent my throat drying out and therefore eliminating the stabbing knives-in-the-throat feeling of waking up.

The worst "symptom" I've had has been a couple episodes of throat constriction. I guess that's what you'd call it. Although my breathing feels perfectly fine, once a day my throat would close up on me. Is it just the swollen, sore, throat expanding into itself? Was I not breathing consciously enough? I suddenly sympathize with asthmatics. Luckily, I still have a tiny bit of a throat spray I had picked up in Beijing, and that helped each time. (It tastes like spraying aluminum on your throat - yuck!)

I guess I'm kind of documenting all this here for future reference... Since the diagnosis, the symptoms, the prognosis, the warnings, all keep changing as time goes on. This is just my personal version of Covid.


15 March, 2022

Tuesday Tales - The Inevitable

It feels like just a couple weeks ago that I posted about the inevitability of catching Covid.

Welp, we did catch it.

No, not "we". Brett did. I'm negative (or I was when we got tested yesterday).

He had "a cold" for a couple days. It happens. Yesterday, when he mentioned that the chest constriction was different than he usually got, we decided to run out to a testing facility and "just check". It's the kind of thing we would expect others to do to be socially responsible, so we should definitely do it.

He's positive. I'm negative. I would not be surprised if I'm positive when we go back in a few days to test again. But all of my family members who have tested positive (three, I think) have had very mild cases, so I'm optimistic.

But the best part, or, the lovely element in this, is our neighbors. That amazing Vietnamese hospitality!

When we got home from the clinic, "Mom" - our landlady - was in the front portico of their house, watching her 2yo grandson. We waved from the fence and explained the situation, even showing her the papers of the test results. She speaks no English.

Then we went into our house next door and Brett got on his computer to update the people who needed to know. While he was in the back, "Mom" came to our gate with a grocery bag full of lemongrass, ginger, and limes, and a small jar of honey. She tried to explain (and later her daughter confirmed by text message) what to do with the items in the bag:

Cook the ginger with lemongrass (boil). Then add lime and honey. Drink it like a tea. They recommended that I drink it too. I'm sure it's overall good for health and good for the immune system.

Then another daughter came by later with a steam bath (face-steamer?) and said to cut into the reservoir garlic and ginger, and breathe it in until it stops. It's a small reservoir, so he didn't have too long to steam his face when he tried it last night. 

Later in the day, that same daughter came by with drugs - antibiotics and aspirin. 

I know that none of this is a "cure", but I have to say he slept better last night than the three previous nights. Also, he's drinking their tea when I make it everyday, even though he hates ginger. Something about people being so concerned for your well-being must light the "okay, I'll take your advice" fuse.

They added that if we need anything at all, to let them know. Fortunately, we're pretty well stocked up on groceries and things, because it was after the weekend and we had run all our errands.

When we first saw the results, we both agreed that I'd be doing all the running for a while. But then reality struck that as long as I am staying in the same house with him, we both need to be isolating.  It should be a fun week or so!

13 March, 2022

Fiction Friday - Bad Hair Day

Tripp goggled at Celia over the rim of his drink. Haley was giving her a hug, while V asked the question they were all thinking: "What did you do to your hair?" 

Celia blew a long wedge of fringe out of her face and responded, "Get me one of those pink things you're drinking and I'll tell you." It had been a mistake, she realized. If her closest friends couldn't hold it together... what a mess.

As V signaled the order for another drink over the heads of the crowd, Tripp chimed in. "I mean, I'm all for 'you do you' honey, but I do not get this."

"Yes, well, it looked much better in the salon." All three nodded in understanding. "I don't know how she did it! It was all cool, and kind of spiky, but in a very 'upwardly mobile executive' way...."

"Oh! You got the promotion!" exclaimed Haley. "Good for you!"

"Yes, on Friday they promoted me," Celia's brows knit with worry as she explained. "So to celebrate I got a lovely, new hair-cut that is not working out as I hoped." She had loved it so much in the salon, she practically floated home.

"Anne didn't explain the look to you?" V knew Celia's hairdresser.

"Well, yes, but I guess I didn't catch it." She'd been too busy admiring herself in the mirror.

"So go back and ask again," Tripp said. 

Celia rolled her eyes. "I don't know when. I can't go to work like this on Monday. Anyway, enough about my problems..."

Soon the four friends were laughing and talking about V's failing relationship and Haley's annoying boss. Tripp had to leave early to meet someone, but the three girlfriends stayed at the bar well past midnight, drinking, dancing, and more drinking.

Finally, Celia wove her way home to her apartment. She stared at her blurry double-image in the mirror. She picked up a pair of scissors and cut off the wedge of fringe that had been in her way all night. She cut another section to try to even it out. She had to cut some off the sides to make things blend. She cut more and more, finally crashing on her bed in her clothes.

When daylight made its way through the curtain, Celia woke and dragged herself to the bathroom. "AAAaugh!" she screamed in the mirror. 

She texted Anne: "I need help!" but Sundays were Anne's off days, so she didn't hope for an answer.

She texted V and Haley: "I did a bad thing. Come over ASAP!"

When they arrived, Celia wore a ball cap to open the door. "What's the panic?" asked Haley. Celia removed her hat and watched eyebrows rise and jaws drop. "Well..." Haley looked to V for words.

"Um, well, it's almost a buzz cut. That's kind of edgy, right?" V was spinning her tone into a positive. Celia groaned and collapsed on her sofa. Her friends sat on either side.

"Okay. You want solutions? I see two," V was always the one with the ideas. "Since you can't get Anne today, you could go to a different salon to even things out, or we could just buzz it straight through and get you a wig for work tomorrow."


And now for a question:

What should Celia do? What would you do, if you were Celia? Have you ever had a hair cut so bad you needed to get it fixed?


Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. (I know, I'm late this week. It happens.) If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.

09 March, 2022

Tuesday Tales - Tech Troubles

Okay, okay, technically it's Wednesday, but I'm really trying (hoping) to get onto a Tuesday/Friday schedule, so this is my Tuesday post a tiny bit late.

Last weekend we took a quick trip to Marble Mountain, a beautiful, historic, spiritual (?) place between here and Danang, and I wanted to post about that, with all the pictures... but for some reason the gallery on my phone hasn't synced up with my cloud storage since our trip to Hanoi a month ago!

Boo. For shame.

I've been to Marble Mountain before, once with my sister when she visited in 2018, and once with a friend who visited from China the following spring. Both visits were different, and this time going with Brett was still something new! There are many caves and pagodas. The caves are filled with various statuary - Buddhas, monks, historical figures, animals.

The Marble mountains poke straight up out of the ground, and they've erected an elevator up to the main cave area of the largest of them. So you ride the elevator up about - 10? 15? Maybe? - stories high, where you get out and wander around through and among the pagodas and caves, going up and down layers of stairs. 

This time I did a lot more stairs than either of my two previous visits. For an overcast day, it was a pretty sweaty trip! I actually took advantage of one of the relaxation areas to drink a fresh coconut. We've learned I have a propensity to dehydrate, so I'm quite proud of myself for not letting it get that far. I don't love the taste of coconut water, but it is undoubtedly a better thirst quencher than plain water. Kind of like fresh Gatorade without sugar and gross chemicals.

After I get my phone back in sync, I will definitely post pictures. Look forward to next week!

04 March, 2022

Fiction Friday - All Aboard!

Gareth stared out the window at the passengers boarding the car behind him. The train station was fairly busy today. A few families, lots of business men and women, and - a sigh escaped him - a large group of teens on some kind of field trip. Big back-packs and small suitcases. He thought a silent prayer that they would be a "good" bunch and not too troublesome. 

When the numbers boarding thinned so that it appeared most of his travelers were on board, Gareth entered the first car to begin checking tickets. He watched the faces as he punched the slips of paper, and listened with a trained ear to the snippets of conversation.

A poor mother was trying to calm her crying infant, apologizing to those around her. "I'm so sorry. Shh, honey! Oh, baby, hush..."

Someone stubbed a toe on another traveler's bag that was sticking into the aisle. "Ow! Hey, can you put that away?" Gareth kept an open ear as he punched the next tickets, waiting for tempers to flare. They didn't. The offending bag must have been removed.

Squeezing out the car doors, and across into the next car. It was full of that teen group. Loud, goofing off, jostling for space - who were the "cool" ones? Gareth briefly wondered. There was a group of girls near the back of the car, hanging over the backs of seats to get together and sing something in harmony. He didn't recognize the song. Standing just inside the back doors, a trio of adults stood comparing notes on their clipboards and looking up at the kids - counting heads? He gave them a nod of approval and passed on through the doors into the short entryway.

The next car was sparsely filled with adults reading or tapping on laptops or other devices. In one pair of seats sat a forlorn teen with her mother. "...I know, Mom, but I don't get why I can't just sit with them." She was in a neck brace, seated by the window while her mother kept guard at the aisle. "I let you take the trip, as you asked, you'll be with your friends soon enough..."

Gareth passed on, feeling sorry for the girl. She must be part of that big group in the previous car. He hoped that her mother would let her join her friends for a while. So far, they seemed to be no trouble, and Gareth was a pretty good judge. It looked like it would be a calm journey.

He continued through the sleeper cars, knocking on doors and meeting the few passengers there, and at the end of the train he stepped into the tiny cabin where his seat was awaiting him. He peered out the window at the landscape slowly passing... speed picking up ... a little more ... soon they'd be at full speed. 

It was too early to judge, but Gareth had a good feeling about this trip. No one had given him a sideways look as if judging whether they'd get away with something they shouldn't. He'd give them all time to settle before going back through his hallways to get a better measure of who was riding with him this time.

The town turned into fields and farms outside the window as the sky faded into shades of lavender beyond the horizon.


Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.