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To self-isolate or not:

If your family is like mine, then you are about two weeks into this isolation and quarantine thing with the Coronavirus pandemic changing red and blue states alike into the color of fire on nightly TV. As we start our 'Spring Break' I wonder how much longer we will have to hunker down until this thing starts to let up.

Despite all that's been happening, I have learned a few things:

1. When you stay home, you still have to work.

My wife, Biz, while trying to keep up with her students when we had e-learning days as well as encourage teachers to have fun while creating engaging digital content, still managed to put a massive clean whuppin' on our house. For several days, in between computer and online time, she managed to fill many trash bags full of trash, clean bedrooms, the mud room, the kitchen, and more. About all I managed was to put a dent in our taxes, getting ready to file before April 15 and keep our bills straight. But, that still doesn't mean I get to shirk my responsibilities; trash still needs to go out, dishes still need to be done, and laundry still piles up. Oh, and I am the one to go out and brave the virus in order to shop at the grocery.

2. You don't know how precious toilet paper is until you can no longer get it and you are almost out.

Speaking of grocery, this coronavirus thing did catch us off guard. Before we knew it, when it was time to 'stock up' we missed the mass rush on toilet paper. I'm still good, don't get me wrong, I had one of those 18 mega roll packs that essentially was the same as having 164 rolls, and we were only half way through. I think I bought the pack around Christmas. It's quite surprising how long one of those rolls last; they're about the same size as the rolls you see in public restrooms, approx. 10 inches across. I could use a lot during each. . .

Er, I digress . . .

The pack we had was lasting us awhile, but I did see us running low in the near future, so, it was up to me to go out and find more. I was the hunter-gatherer of the family and I needed to bag that TP beast.

No matter how hard I looked, for the last two weeks, no one, and I mean no one had any TP. Until today, that is. I managed to go in to 5 Star at 8 a.m. and they had two boxes of 15 packages of TP. Keeping faithfully to their sign, I only bought one. Then, later today, I found myself in Plymouth, at Wal-mart, picking up dog food - yes, our furry family members need food as well - and saw that Wal-mart had about 30 packages on the shelf, finally. I bought another package, just to be safe.

Charles Ratliff, big-game hunter and bagger of packages of toilet paper.

3. Family members who travel need to quarantine before rejoining the family.

My wayward sister-in-law (and co-author) Leslie just returned home from a trip out to the Southwest. a couple weeks ago, she was on one of the last flights out to Vegas before travel started to be restricted and things started shutting down. She and Chris drove back in Chris' car, and just got her a couple nights ago.

We immediately told her that she needed to self-isolate and quarantine themselves for a few days, you know, just to be sure. That lasted about a day and a half. Then, just as she and Chris recovered from their journey and started getting bored staying inside, along comes Leslie knocking on windows and doors . . . "Let me in! Let me in!" much like the big bad wolf trying to convince us house piggies to open the door. In the words of my mother-in-law, "Go home!"

See, Mom is one of those "most at risk" for this thing, and with her current condition weakened due to issues she's experiencing right now, we can't take a chance. Though we care very much for Leslie and Chris, we have enjoyed poling a little fun at them, making sure they do what we've been doing these last two weeks.

Better to play it safe and make sure none of us has been exposed than run the risk of infecting Mom. We just can't help having some fun in this situation. It's just a few days, Les. We all just need to be patient.

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