Dispatches from Furlough, a continuing series

Today is officially Day Four of my two-week furlough from work, due to the economic effects of the Wuhan Coronavirus.  Last Friday just before noon, we were told that our aerospace manufacturing factory was shutting down for two weeks, due to a falloff in business, including customers pushing out and cancelling orders.  For the purposes of this continuing series, I will only be counting weekdays as part of the furlough.  I have ample vacation time saved up, so this will mostly be a forced vacation.

I have opted into the company’s text-messaging service, so I have heard via text that two employees in our factory have contracted the COVID-19 illness, and they both work in the same area of the factory.  It is interesting that this particular area is almost completely enclosed to separate it from the rest of the factory (due to machine noise and fumes).  My work area is on the opposite side of the building.  Even before the factory shutdown, many office employees, including the majority of our department, were working from home.  But I was going in to work every day, because my particular job involves carrying things to the shipping and receiving departments, and I really didn’t want to be working from home while my husband was already working from home.  I did like the relative quiet, which made it easier for me to do my job.  Our entire state of Washington is under a “shelter in place” order from our stupid governor, so my furlough promised to be uncomfortable confinement.

Being the incendiary person I am, I defied that shelter-in-place order on Sunday.  It was a nice day, so I got in my car and drove up to the Skagit Valley to check out the tulips.  Every year in the month of April, they have the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, which normally draws thousands of flower-viewers, who clog up all the 2-lane roads in the valley, stopping by the side of the road to take pictures of the flowers in the fields.  Not so this year, since the Festival has been cancelled, due to the “social-distancing” edict from the all-powerful State.  The group who runs the Festival has added insult to injury, by turning off the Tulip Cams, so we shut-ins can’t even view the flowers on the Web! Please note that the header on my blog is a picture of those Skagit Valley Tulips from a previous year.  I enjoyed my drive, and when I got there, the traffic was pretty light, but NOT totally gone.  There is a roadside farm stand, Snow Goose Produce, and they were mercifully open!  I didn’t stop there, but there were some shoppers.  In my drive among the fields, it became apparent that it was still a bit early for the tulips to be in full bloom, and I didn’t get any tulip pictures.  But, I did get one picture.

SkagitBlueberries

I do believe these are blueberries, and they are not ready yet.  I did not get out of the car, but just turned around and drove back home.  On the way, I noticed a few things.  The Walmart and Home Depot were open.  And the big Outlet Mall at Tulalip was closed. I wish I had taken a picture of their empty parking lot, which on any weekend is crammed with cars, many from British Columbia.

Monday was the start of the real furlough.  I had decided that I was not going to waste my time off, and made my plan to get some exercise every day.  In my bedroom resides my Concept 2 indoor rowing machine, and I vowed to use it every day.  I started with 20 minutes, and I am increasing my time by one minute every day.  Today, I did 24 minutes; when I reach 30 minutes, I’ll do 30 per day each day.  Most of my time has been spent reading, my very favorite activity.  I am always behind on my Wall Street Journals, so I am catching up this week.  I’m also spending some time on Ricochet.com, both posting and reading.  Ricochet members are very smart, and very diverse, so I always learn something.  Since many of us have to stay home, our Ricochet Birders group is getting lots of action, with members describing which birds they see from their windows.

Hubby and I have gotten out to do some allowed activities, like grocery shopping.  I have always liked going to the grocery store, and I appreciate those trips even more now.  I also made a Costco run on Tuesday, to pick up a prescription, and get gas in the car.  Wow, the price of gas is sure down!  My car uses premium gas, and this week’s price was over $0.35 lower than last time.  And the Costco parking lot was half empty.

Owing to the rapidly-sinking stock market, I was able to call Vanguard, who manages my investments, and cancel this year’s Required Minimum Distribution from my Regular IRA account.  I am glad that the Feds allowed me to cancel this year’s distribution, since the amount is based on my balance on December 31, which was a great deal higher than it is today.  I really don’t need the money, since I am still working (I hope I will have a job to go back to).

Both Hubby and I are in the over-60 high-risk group, and so far both of us are well.  We’d better be!