A new challenge: What to do when everything is closed? | An Alternative View | Diana Diamond | Palo Alto Online |

Local Blogs

An Alternative View

By Diana Diamond

E-mail Diana Diamond

About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

View all posts from Diana Diamond

A new challenge: What to do when everything is closed?

Uploaded: Mar 15, 2020
Who among us would have ever thought three weeks ago that a pretty flower-looking corona virus would spread worldwide so rapidly and would affect so many countries? Its effect has been greater than nuclear plant explosions, 9/11, or other viral outbreaks. The universal fears are so great I think it may bring a sense of togetherness among all our nations, as in “We’re all in this together."

The virus, which knows no borders, has hit more than 100 nations..

Our airlines, cruise lines, hotels, churches, gatherings, public transportation systems, sports events, gyms, churches are dramatically affected. Our world economy is at stake, as is our own, with the stock market slightly rising and then plunging day to day.

Even Donald Trump may lose the chance of re-election this fall because of his lack of real concern about the spread of this virus. He was worried, and rightfully so, about the coronavirus might have on the stock market. And he was telling us not to worry, that everything will be fine, and that by April the virus may magically fade away. Sure.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, our chief medical expert on viruses such as these, said Saturday that the spread of COVID-19 would be solved by communities – the federal government would have a role, but the spread has to be contained at the local community level – and it must be done daily to slowly contain the spreads of this virus.

The analogy used is if a community knows a certain amount of rain is going to fall, it is preferable (to contain the virus) that the rain comes down in a 24-hour period, rather than in an hour. So it is safer if we control our contacts with each other hourly – 24x7.

Now we are facing a new challenge – isolation. Some of it may be self-quarantine, but it’s become a new all-encompassing dilemma for all of us. It’s Sunday as I write this, and what is there to do or where can I go? Museums are closed, some restaurants have shut down, sports events have shuttered, libraries are locked, and even Palo Alto City Hall wants us to make an appointment to enter their doors.

I went to Safeway yesterday to “stock up” as everyone else is doing (and no, I didn’t buy rolls of toilet paper), but as I waited in line for 10 minutes and left the grocery store, I realized I had been among hundreds of people doing the same stocking up. We are told to avoid crowds, and I didn’t. Should I worry? Can I really take a safe walk through Stanford Shopping Center to find something to do on a boring Sunday?

So how to keep busy?

Yesterday I cleaned out two kitchen drawers and a big chest I had stored in the garage for years filled with wedding treasures. We drove down to Goodwill with a heap of donations. At the end of the day I felt I really accomplished something.

I have 10 more closets and nine more drawers to go. Then I can tackle my storage room.

Am I having fun yet?

There are books to read, but after four hours of facing all those words my body has to move. There’s a new jigsaw puzzle on the dining room table, which I can tackle because we won’t be inviting people over. I’ve done the daily crossword puzzle, and I have a list of Netflix disk and stream films I want to watch. And yes, my dog and I are taking two walks a day.

I have cabin fever. I am not alone, I am sure. I happen to be a person who needs to “do” things constantly, and get bored when I am not. Even while some of us will be working at home, which many companies have offered, this can be productive, but also are still isolating experiences.

And then what do we do when we get to week two, or three, or five? Or for two or three months, as Dr. Fasci suggested, to prevent thousands of deaths and millions of COVID-19 cases?

Isolation doesn’t help. Talking to family and friends daily really does. I’ve announced that I may pester them for conversations. My husband is great company, but when we are alone together all day long, what to do we talk about when we know what each other did all day long?

What are you doing to get through this new challenge? Can we give each other ideas – and virtually reach out to each other?

Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Trump fired the national pandemic team, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Mar 15, 2020 at 2:10 pm

"Who among us would have ever thought three weeks ago that a pretty flower-looking corona virus would spread worldwide so rapidly and would affect almost so many countries?"

Who? Anyone who listened to the WHO, CDC or any qualified epidemiologist three weeks ago. Or four weeks ago. Or five weeks ago. Next question?

Oh, if you have TEN more closets to go, take a break and think about spending some time helping those who live paycheck to paycheck and are getting laid off. They will be/are struggling to hang on to any closet.


Always remember: Trump fired the national pandemic team 3 years ago (they would have told him what to do 2 months ago) and Trump/Pence turned down millions of test kits offered in January.

Posted by Boho, a resident of Green Acres,
on Mar 15, 2020 at 4:02 pm

Boho is a registered user.

"Dr. Fasci'--perhaps Dr. Freud was on to something.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Mar 15, 2020 at 6:30 pm

There is a very big problem with isolation. It is called loneliness. This can happen to an isolated couple as well as an individual.

Many seniors are not up to date with technology. They often don't have smart phones, or computers, many don't even have internet. There has been an article on Palo Alto Weekly about how young people are teaching older people to be more involved using technology. It is giving these older people a new lease on life.

Some of these older people are not necessarily housebound, but depend on getting out and about for social activities. For them, when their senior activities, when their church activities, when they don't see the children going by on their bikes when they look through the window, when they don't see any life, they become isolated to the extent that they are prisoners in their own homes.

I know that this is a very technologically astute part of the country, but this idea that those over 65 should just stay at home and isolate themselves from the rest of the world sounds very much like "let them rot at home" to those who are forced to do nothing but stare at a tv screen and wish for some human contact. Yes, some do have family they can call and yes some do have family who will visit occasionally, but then they feel even more like burdens on society.

The idea that seniors now have to lose their independence and force themselves to stay away from the rest of the world, if even for their own health, is nothing more than giving them a prison sentence without any date of release back into the real world. To some extent, I think some may wish to take their chances with the virus rather than turn into hermits.

For many, their activities are what gives them the will to get up each day, to shower, to dress, to pay attention to what time of the day it is or what day of the week it is. For some, they will lose this and perhaps lose their will to live. They may stop eating well or at all. They may remain in bed and unwashed for days.

The repercussions of prolonged inactivity for seniors is problematic, whether they have good health or bad.

Posted by Rick Moen, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Mar 15, 2020 at 11:47 pm

Oh, let's see:

1. All of that deferred yard cleanup in preparation for spring planting in my vegetable garden and elsewhere.
2. Vast amounts of reading I've been trying to get to. (As I say every time I have to go to DMV, a man with an e-book reader is never, ever bored.)
3. Ooh, and stuff to view: Time to catch up on season 5 of Better Call Saul (AMC), season 3 of Babylon Berlin (Netflix), all of American Gods (Starz), the parts of Westworld I haven't yet seen plus the new season that started tonight (HBO), and all of Fargo (FX Network). And if I want to see sure-fire utter brilliance a second time, I could re-watch Russian Doll season 1 (Netflix), Good Omens (Amazon/BBC), and Watchmen (HBO). Oh, and season 3 of Barry (the black comedy with Bill Hader) is due in April.
4. I'm a good cook, and now I have the opportunity to prove that every day to my family.
5. When it's not raining, and sometimes even when it is, hikes are nice.

-- Rick Moen
(Web-searching my name finds contact info, if needed.)

Posted by parent, a resident of Downtown North,
on Mar 16, 2020 at 9:41 am

Everything is not closed. Parks are still open and sunshine and exercise are supposed to help build up your immunity to the virus. Even jogging around the block a couple of times is very healthy for you. "Social distancing" is very easy to practice in the outdoors.

Of course, there are the things our parents used to do, like reading books or playing musical instruments. Remember those?

Posted by Art!, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Mar 16, 2020 at 10:22 am

My 80-yr old mother is the same, always has to be doing something. I sent this to her, she will be getting it this week and I'm hoping it's a distraction for a time
Web Link

And “Trump fired" could you PLEASE stop the rant. Enough already.

Posted by Art, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Mar 16, 2020 at 10:23 am

Sorry, for those who don't lie to click on links, it's Let's Make Art, you can search it up

Posted by Anneke, a resident of Professorville,
on Mar 16, 2020 at 10:24 am

Since I retired I became a passionate gardener. We only have a very small plot, but part of my back garden is a farm full of containers with many vegetables. I can spend hours in my garden. Last year I harvested thousands of tomatoes, which I shared with our neighbors, friends, and doctors. I also do constant research online on how to grow the best veggies. I love the learning.

Then there are the puzzles, especially online. My husband who will be 89 years old this year, does five hours of puzzles (of all kinds) each day. His mind is extremely sharp, and it stimulates him to do other things as well.

We are about to sign our fifth review of our twenty-year old trust. How many people do not have trusts or will in place. Not many. Now is the time to take action.

Not too long ago, we did not have a television, a telephone, a refrigerator, a dishwasher, a car, a computer, FaceTime, Skype, e-mail or much money to fly and have vacations abroad. It was a simpler time, but not a less happy time.

Our neighbors (three sets) have already reached out to us and offered to do our shopping and run errands. That feeling of friendship is wonderful. Rest assured, they will receive many tomatoes this summer.

We are organizing all our belongings. After 48 years of marriage, we have accumulated a lot, which needs cleaning out. Simplifying our home has been very satisfying.

Via streaming or Netflix we get many movies and documentaries. It is a joy watching them.

Reading is another joy. I have taken it back up after many years of being "too" busy with my job and other responsibilities.

Do exercises. Learn Tai Chi. Stanford has some great Tai Chi lessons on line.

Then, remember the start of the COVID-19 virus is not your fault. Now is the time to do whatever is necessary to stop it from expanding, which it will if everyone take the extra responsibility.

After this virus passes, we may have a kinder and more thoughtful world.

Posted by Anneke, a resident of Professorville,
on Mar 16, 2020 at 11:20 am

One other action we take each day is to share our early morning status and body temperature with a neighbor who lives alone. And he does the same.

Posted by Anneke's husband, a resident of Professorville,
on Mar 16, 2020 at 11:57 am

I will be 88, not 89!

My view? I am blessed to have met Anneke and when I did, it was a true love-at-first-sight encounter and a great on-going love story. We have nearly 50 years together, much of very close including college and graduate school together as well as working together at a couple of the most innovative high tech companies on both coasts. We somehow have never grown bored being together, perhaps because of the support that never flags and does not in this exceptionally trying time. We are blessed with great neighbors who are supportive of one another. Like any couple that has been together a while, we get "what is your secret?" Not difficult. We take care of one another. It's something we call all do these trying times.

Oh, and "Cheese, bread, butter, and catterpiggles" worked for us too. Stay safe all neighbors, near and far.

Posted by Diana Diamond, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Mar 16, 2020 at 1:44 pm

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

I heard two other good ideas today -- have a group of friends all watch the same movie online, and then discuss the movie on zoom. Ditto for a group to read a book and use zoom to discuss it at the end of the week.
Good luck to all of us -- and have fun!


Posted by Diana Diamond, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Mar 16, 2020 at 2:01 pm

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

Posted by Katherine, a resident of Downtown North,
on Mar 16, 2020 at 5:12 pm

Neighborhood little libraries are a great resource!
I suggest WIPING DOWN THE BOOKS with disinfectant when you get home.
( vinegar, ammonia, chlorox, rubbing alcohol are a few ideas) Then let air dry.
Those of us de-cluttering books- donate to the Little Libraries. If I have a big stack i drop off a few at each of my neighborhood Little Libraries.
You could also be nice and wipe off BEFORE you drop off!

Posted by College terraces, a resident of College Terrace,
on Mar 16, 2020 at 6:08 pm

this is the great opportunity to make one rethink everything. Do I need to be on cruise? Do I need to go to see the world,?do I want to spend more time to know my children ? How important my work is to me and to my company? After these, we either come out wisely or broken. Which one would I be?

Posted by Anneke, a resident of Professorville,
on Mar 16, 2020 at 6:27 pm

Diana, please allow me to use your blog for this message.

In Belgium the supermarkets are now allowing elderly people to do their shopping from 8:00 A.M. - 9:00 A.M. Only elderly people.

I think this is a great opportunity to give elderly people an opportunity to get out of the house and do their shopping without possibly infecting others.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Mar 16, 2020 at 10:04 pm

I for one would really like to admire and thank all the people who are still working in supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations, and other stores that are open or services that need to be manned ( and womaned ). The everyday worker in America is what makes this country work, and it is an eternal shame that we do not treat them right.

Posted by Trump fired the national pandemic team, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Mar 17, 2020 at 6:42 am

> something that has a lower mortality rate than childbirth did until 50 years ago

Richard: if we don't socially distance, models show a crazy number of cases. When was the last time America had 50 million pregnancies with a death rate of 1-3%?

Last: are you sharing your cavalier, selfish attitude with your elderly parents?


Note that Trump is CURRENTLY in court with a case to throw out ObamaCare.

Trump fired the National Pandemic Team in 2018.

Trump/Pence both turned down millions of tests offered by the WHO in January.

Third: 30 members of the Trump admin were part of the hand-over exercise from the Obama team, who did several simulations to train for a pandemic and other disasters, in January 2017.

20 of those 30 Trumpettes are now out of government.

Trump's executive malfeasance is all over this pandemic.

Posted by Not worth a penny, a resident of Community Center,
on Mar 17, 2020 at 12:55 pm

Pls delete Richard's sociopathic rant.

Disgusting. Sad!

Posted by Connie Butner, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Mar 17, 2020 at 2:29 pm

Creating things with your hands has always been a fun and relaxing way to spend the time. It's been shown to reduce anxiety and stress. Each day that we are sheltering in place, there will be a new free project released on our youtube channel.

Let's Go Crafting is practicing social distancing and is closed for in person classes. To help entertain and make it easier as we are all sheltering in place, we will be releasing a video each day of a fun project that is appropriate for all skill levels and ages. Yesterday's project was a zippered pouch - great to make for yourself or as a gift for others!
Web Link

Today's project: Web Link

I hope this helps everyone each day. It's my way of giving back to my community.

Posted by Basta Pasta, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Mar 17, 2020 at 4:14 pm

I'm going to make my own pasta seeing as how it's sold out in stores.

Posted by JB, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Mar 17, 2020 at 10:45 pm

Treat it as a time to reclaim your creative self - sing, dance, play or make music, paint, cook, tailor, embroider, read, write, make photo albums and collages, bake, sculpt with clay, atta, even aluminum foil, quilt, repurpose old favorite clothes by joining square cut pieces into bags or quilted throws, knit, make jewellery, write letters, or poems, dress up and take turns to do family photo shoots, make home movies with mini biographies or personal expertise, study, enroll in an online class and learn what you always wanted to but didn't have the time to, meditate, create a self-designed at-home retreat, have a story telling circle - real or online, try a new software to make infographics or tell a digital story, research something you are curious about, teach a kid something you know, rearrange furniture, polish old silver or a piece of furniture, paint your walls, draw chalk murals on the pavement, sketch each other's portraits, paint your nails, pickle your produce, plant some seeds from your kitchen in your garden, or think of what you enjoyed doing once but haven't had the time to do in a while. Call someone to check in on them or catchup on your sleep.

If you are stepping out to make a grocery store run - call your neighbors first and ask if you can pick up something for them too while you are there.

Isolated is not alone - it is in solidarity. This might just create stronger families and communities, and a more creative self.

Posted by testing testing, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Mar 18, 2020 at 12:23 pm

What is the prospect of better tests that can reliably catch whether someone has been exposed/is contagious?

If people could be reliably and regularly cleared, for example, to travel, go to school, etc., then we could reclaim some normalcy. If you could test yourself again when you get home, or before you go to a college campus, we could open campuses again. If people who deal with the public could be tested, they could stay safely at work. If everyone in a work site could be reliably and regularly tested, they could go to work again.

We desperately need a ramp up of reliable, regular testing for EVERYONE, not just a few suspected cases. We must be willing to ask for help from other countries who are doing more testing already in the meantime.

Why did we delay in order to choose CDC testing over other available testing? There have been charges of improper self-dealing at the CDC before when it comes to profits researchers can make because of the Bayh-Dole act. Are we certain that is not happening now? We must have reliable, readily available, rapid testing available for everyone if we want to get back to some kind of normalcy.

Posted by Anneke, a resident of Professorville,
on Mar 18, 2020 at 12:24 pm

Diana, Once again allow me to use your blog to share this good information:

Whole Foods is now temporarily offering a special hour for people older than 60. That hour is from 8:00 A.M. - 9:00 A.M.

Thank you Whole Foods for hearing us.

Posted by Not worth a penny, a resident of Community Center,
on Mar 18, 2020 at 12:59 pm

"What is the prospect of better tests that can reliably catch whether someone has been exposed/is contagious?"

As someone noted above, Trump turn down millions of Tests in January from the world health organization.

Crazy bad decision. What manager would do that?

Posted by Mountain View Resident, a resident of North Whisman,
on Mar 18, 2020 at 6:43 pm

Is it possible to assist the elderly particularly those who are homebound or in need of assistance through either the local government or the local parishes and other groups? I am thinking of providing some basic food and medicine if needed and toiletries to those who need as well as ideas such as having someone from a volunteer group allow the older people to gather in open areas like parks such as Eagle Park in Mountain view to walk and rest and get some fresh air while as well maintaining the distance between one another while walking. I think both these would be very helpful to both the mental and physical and emotional health of those citizens who most need our care and assistance at this moment I time. Thank you very much for reading.

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Mar 18, 2020 at 11:42 pm

I'm one of those people who has always stayed very busy, but I'm changing my tune - and taking advantage of the shelter-in-place. Except for working full time, my husband and I have decided to just take it easy for our own well being. It's very relaxing, and very comforting. Our kids are grown, and we're not getting any younger. Except for daily exercise and work, we have plans to do nothing. Our to do list is on hold for our own mental well being. We are checking in on others, and we appreciate those who are checking in on us. My "activities" consist of grocery shopping for our elderly friends at church.

Posted by Green Thumb, a resident of Mountain View,
on Mar 19, 2020 at 8:39 pm

With the recent rains and the "shelter in place" I've been spending more time weeding my garden. It hasn't looked this great in ***YEARS***!!!

Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills,
on Mar 20, 2020 at 7:09 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Anyone who follows social media,local politics,etc., knows that I keep busy. None-the-less, I could spare a few hours a couple of days a week to join others in a friendly, on-line game of bridge. We could use a technophobe to implement a cyber-safe means for such activity. This, of course, could be extended to other games.

Posted by Ron, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Mar 21, 2020 at 6:57 pm

Ron is a registered user.

Our family has two young kids, I have a job that allows telecommuting and my wife is a stay at home mom. To maintain sanity, I am feeling the need to establish a new/modified daily routine sooner rather than later, so I can wake up in the morning ready to tackle the day. Our school has (understandably) been in reaction/survival mode for the last week, but I am hopeful we can start to establish an operating rhythm with school lessons over the coming 1-2 weeks.

Also praying for and talking with families, friends, and neighbors!

Follow this blogger.
Sign up to be notified of new posts by this blogger.



Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Burning just one "old style" light bulb can cost $150 or more per year
By Sherry Listgarten | 12 comments | 3,192 views

Banning the public from PA City Hall
By Diana Diamond | 27 comments | 2,305 views

Pacifica’s first brewery closes its doors
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 2,066 views

Holiday Fun in San Francisco- Take the Walking Tour for An Evening of Sparkle!
By Laura Stec | 8 comments | 1,879 views

Premiere! “I Do I Don’t: How to build a better marriage” – Here, a page/weekday
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,536 views


Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund

For the last 30 years, the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund has given away almost $10 million to local nonprofits serving children and families. 100% of the funds go directly to local programs. It’s a great way to ensure your charitable donations are working at home.