Living with COVID Restrictions: Colorado and Florida

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modern house  and garden in Colorado
My home in Colorado Springs

I am a retired U.S. Air Force officer and met my husband in Colorado Springs while on assignment here in 2011.

When we got married, he had a house in Colorado Springs and I had a condo in Florida. Since I retired (2014) we go back and forth between Colorado Springs and Florida, as he can work remotely.

About two years ago we bought a house together in Florida. We put in a pool and that turned out to be a real blessing, as all the gyms were closed after COVID.

My husband and I live in a beautiful house in Colorado Springs, which he’s owned for over twenty years. It has a great view of the mountains and the city. It’s a pretty big house on a large lot. We are at the end of a cul-de-sac and it’s a nice neighbourhood but when you go out walking you may run into a bear! There are deer everywhere and they eat all my flowers!

large deer with antlers

It’s an older house, built in the ‘80’s. It has four bedrooms, and two storeys. The downstairs goes out onto a patio which has a covered deck above. It’s sealed so we can sit out there even if it rains. There’s a lot of wildlife around us in the area.

There are different rooms that I enjoy using and doing different things in. We have a sun-room with large windows which sort of feels like you are in Florida—almost—except that you are looking out onto the mountains.

We both do the upkeep. The furniture in the Florida house is mostly from my condo but we have bought new furnishings for the dining room and some other rooms together. The same is true in Colorado; he has some things from his previous life but a lot of things are new that we bought together.

Texan home with brown furniture
My Mom’s house in Texas

I was in Florida when COVID really became a concern in our life, around the end of February.

My husband came down to Florida in March. He was planning to go back and forth because he has a business in Colorado Springs but he couldn’t because of COVID and lockdown. You weren’t supposed to travel.

We were very fortunate to be in Florida at that time.

We were boating throughout March. They closed that down in April, but re-opened it in May. The restaurants weren’t affected until April and even then, since many have outdoor seating in Florida, you were able to pick up orders and sit outside.

We have a church sponsored “Life Group” with people who live in the same neighbourhood area and who went to the same church downtown in Colorado Springs before COVID closed its doors.

After COVID, occasionally we would get together on a Sunday in one of our life group couples’ houses to socialise and watch church services together online. During COVID, while we were in Florida, we were able to keep connected with these folks through Zoom meetings, so that worked out well for us.

It’s so nice to be able to socialize with people via Zoom because that has been the most challenging thing: the lack of social closeness which we used to have. We’ve had “happy hours” with friends in Mexico, Germany, etc.

After I retired from the U.S. Air Force and got married, I went to culinary school for two years in Colorado Springs. I graduated in 2016. I felt my artistic talents were kind of dormant…. but they came forth in my cooking.

At first, I was making cookies and cakes, and then I started doing classes. Now I have a culinary business teaching world culture and cuisine classes and various culinary skills and techniques.

I had planned to take a trip with friends to Texas, where my mom lives. I was going to do a class in the library there, because I’ve done other classes there. Since I couldn’t go in person, as air travel was cancelled, I started presenting my classes online using Zoom.

Texan home with senior couple
My mom and her husband at home

And so, I keep busy at home developing all these culinary training classes. I now work with four different libraries in Texas, and I have people from Florida, N.Carolina and Colorado who have signed up for my online classes.

For me, it’s been a wonderful experience to provide people with connections and give them something fun and interesting to learn and skills they can use the rest of their lives. We travel together (virtually) which makes me and the people who take my classes happy.

This year in Colorado, I planted a lot more flowers and they came on in abundance. I’ve used them in my culinary class, the ‘Edible Flower Feast’. It was a great class and people really loved it. It’s wonderful when a ‘light-bulb’ goes off in people’s heads and you are the instigator of that shift for them.

We came back to Colorado Springs in June and I continued to do classes from here and develop new ones. It’s fun.

Colorado Springs has been more restrictive than Florida but they loosened up around the end of June, and now we can go to restaurants.

Although we’ve had some get-togethers, there are some people in our circle of friends who are still freaked-out and do things like wash their groceries.

My dad and step-mom, M. are in their 80’s and live in Florida about 40 minutes south of us. M. had a triple by-pass heart surgery a few years ago and had to go to rehab for five weeks. During that time my dad couldn’t see her and we had to be extremely careful.

At first, we were extremely mindful of everything we touched. We washed our hands every time we came back and sometimes changed our clothes, took a shower, etc. But now, like most places in the US, you just wash your hands and wear a mask.

I experienced a lot of anxiety at first, even going to the grocery store.

The media hyped the crisis up so bad and no-one knew what they were talking about. They were just guessing, and they came across as “the” authority. However, were still learning about COVID every day, so the guidance changed regularly.

It was stressful; just going to the grocery store and taking food to my parents—we didn’t even stay. We didn’t hug them and were hypervigilant about everything we did concerning them—that was hard.

In Florida, we kept going boating because they had very tight protocols which made us feel comfortable. They wiped everything down after every reservation. It wasn’t really a concern. And you’d hear reports in the news that the sun kills it, so that was good since we were in Florida!

We have friends from France and when we’re all in Florida at the same time, we’re always eating in each other’s houses, having dinner parties, going for walks, going places… all kinds social fun. But everyone was really scared.

When we did see each other this year, everyone was kind of distant.

There was a lot of apprehension at that time because of what was happening in New York.

The Mayor of New York and the Governor of New York made infected people go back into nursing homes, infecting and killing hundreds more people.

It’s incredibly hard to understand why they didn’t use The Comfort – the big U.S.Navy medical ship along with all those other things they requested that they needed so desperately.They have the Javid Centre, which is a huge coliseum type place. They had all these field hospitals set up and instead of using them they sent the infected people back into the nursing homes.

I’m also very concerned about people not having jobs.

They are sitting at home and worrying about things – or getting into trouble via joining anarchist groups and contributing to the problems in this country. We have a lot of anarchists and basically, they just want to bring the country down.

There have been riots in Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis… all over the country. New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. The news is just awful.

The people who are trying to maintain stability and peace are blamed without question. People are not going through the judicial process but are just rushing to judgement that the police are to blame. When the police are trying to get someone to comply and they don’t, what are the police going to do if the person threatens them?

view of Colorado countryside
Colorado

I’m thankful our part of the world is peaceful, at the moment anyway.

There are pockets of protestors downtown, and there have been rioters who have destroyed public and private property, along with businesses; people’s life work.

If this (coronavirus) hadn’t happened, the economy would have been, as it was, on an upward trajectory. Everyone was prosperous and happy. And then coronavirus was introduced and now a lot of people don’t have jobs and businesses have been destroyed by rioters/anarchists.

I feel really sorry for those people, as well as the cops who are just doing their jobs. There are some bad cops for sure, like the one involved with George Floyd.

The so-called Democratic party are very intolerant of any dissenting voices, in the media or private sector…they are not leaders. They are part of the problem because they are marching with the anarchists. What they have unleashed they are having a hard time stopping…putting it back in the bottle so to speak.

Watching the news is really depressing. So negative… and the pictures are just awful.

texan home kitchen
My Mom’s kitchen in Texas

The riots, the destruction and the lack of respect. It’s hard to believe. Much depends on your information source as much of it is propaganda right now. It’s incredible the misinformation and denial that is out there with these Democratic mayors who don’t even mention what is going on in their streets and the destruction of property in downtown Seattle and Portland.

I don’t like the way the government has infiltrated our lives and is controlling everything. It may fore-shadow big government becoming even more involved in our lives, which would be awful.

Through all this, I thank God for Zoom technology! It’s been a huge blessing.

You can socialize with people and feel like you are participating. In my classes, I demonstrate what I ‘m making and students show me what they’re making. I can give feedback and that kind of thing.

I don’t get bored because I’m always learning and researching new things. 

I don’t watch that much TV—I watch YouTube. On YouTube I am ’travelling’ to…Lake Como, or wherever. My mom came to visit us in Colorado for two weeks in August and I ‘took’ her to the Alsace, because that is where her relatives were from. I’m sure I’m not going to be able to take her there in person.

I have friends in Europe and when this pandemic is less of a concern, I want to go back.

No-one knows how much time they have. I’m about ‘adding value’ to the time that I do have. With that time, I want to better myself as much as possible.

hiker and rocky landscape

We just started playing tennis again two weeks ago with a group called the Wine League. The USTA league didn’t start at all. Unfortunately, I hurt my foot so I can’t play and have been going to the chiropractor. Thank God he is open, but just to get into see a doctor—what a mess that is! And if you need surgery or you have a health issue right now, that is a big problem.

I thank God I’m in good shape, and so is my husband, and the rest of my family. But you just never know what tomorrow may bring, so you have to make the most of the present moment, live it to the fullest, and count your blessings.

All Photos By Respondent

Follow Nuala Rooney:

I am a creative professional and award-winning author, currently developing original ethnographic design research. With over 25 years experience in Higher Education my interest lies in exploring distilled thinking and design as lived experience.

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