Quarantine Chronicles Part 2

Quarantine Chronicles Part 2-  17th Birthday Celebration/Visiting Raccoon/Singing

This week’s highlights included Joseph’s 17th birthday celebration, which was like so many other parts of life in quarantine, for sure not what we would have planned, but surprising in its unexpected delight and creativity, raccoons on our roof (Yes, really) and the process/outcome of video recording a hymn for our church choir.

Birthday Chronicles:

For Joseph’s birthday, we planned a surprise “drive by” – and it was delightful seeing so many friends and his soccer teammates show up for him with a slow parade of cars down our street, beep their horns, hold out signs, and throw packages of oreos, but the highlight for me was his friend Ali standing through the car’s sunroof with a small megaphone shouting: Happy Birthday Joe! Followed by: Sorry you can’t get your license Joe! (Yes, we are sorry.)

Creativity – We had a family get together via GoToMeeting (just like zoom) – which was *exactly* like my family getting together in person, only virtually the opposite of that.  There was chaos, talking over each other, making fun of various people’s technological challenges (Ok, mostly my brother getting the brunt…) – but as a 17 year old is bound to do, J started using all  of the “tools” including chatting incessantly, as well as utilizing the drawing feature, where he was doodling all over everybody’s faces, which was both kind of hilarious and also very stressful.  In four years of using GoToMeeting, it never ever occurred to me to draw on anybody. (But now he’s got me thinking…) Also he found great entertainment in randomly muting people.

So after the jumble of trying to understand each other for 30 minutes, and singing happy birthday to the boy, I suddenly realized there would be a chat log of this meeting, and that, my friends, is the cherry on top of the whole quarantine birthday extravaganza.

Here is a brief excerpt for some of the highlights (yes, there is even more!)- and what you have to realize is that where it says: “Anne Gribbins” it is important to note that actually Joseph was typing all of that. Also, some pets made an appearance near the end, which is why you see random names like “Talley” (my sister’s dog) and Daphne ( Mattie’s AKA “Its Me” kitty).

Anne Gribbins (to Its Me): 7:11 PM: who is this

Anne Gribbins (to Bob and Terry Woodside): 7:12 PM: what up bob

Bob and Terry Woodside (Private): 7:13 PM: Hi Annie.  Glad you did this

Anne Gribbins (to Johnny): 7:13 PM: here’s johnyy

Anne Gribbins (to Johnny): 7:13 PM: get the reference?

Anne Gribbins (to Johnny): 7:15 PM: john

Anne Gribbins (to Johnny): 7:15 PM: NSWER THE CHAT

Ross (to Everyone): 7:16 PM: freaking Beiber thinks he’s funny

Anne Gribbins (to Everyone): 7:16 PM: WHAT UP LADS

Anne Gribbins (to Everyone): 7:16 PM: LETS GET READY TO RUMBLE

Anne Gribbins (to Everyone): 7:16 PM: gg

Anne Gribbins (to Everyone): 7:16 PM: let’s get some gg’s in the chat

JeepGribbs Gribbins (to Everyone): 7:16 PM: Happy BIRFday!

Ross (to Everyone): 7:19 PM: I love how it just tells you in this emotionless mono-tone that your family has muted you

Its Me (to Everyone): 7:19 PM: I feel personally targeted

Ross (to Everyone): 7:22 PM: This is so chaotic. Just lots of noise

Anne Gribbins (to Everyone): 7:22 PM: this is not a democracy

Bob and Terry Woodside (to Everyone): 7:23 PM: its Daphne

Christine Woodside (to Everyone): 7:26 PM: talley

Christine Woodside (to Everyone): 7:32 PM: If it is not a democracy then who is the king or queen

JeepGribbs Gribbins (to Everyone): 7:33 PM: Joseph is king – it’s his birthday.

So yup, that’s my family in a nutshell. You should also envision me in the background chastising him for muting people. (Stop doing that!) asking him to move the chat box off the center of the screen so that I could SEE people’s faces, and also trying to get the ice cream pie with the candles into the frame so everyone else could see it, but also not dropping oreo ice cream on top of my laptop.  While this juggling act was necessary, and sufficed for these circumstances, I would rather not repeat this particular scenario anytime soon!


Also this week in hilarity and possibly ridiculousness, we had a visit from a very robust and brave raccoon one night at 3:30am.  Yes,  for some reason in all the years we’ve lived here, I’ve not ever seen a raccoon in our yard, but now while we’re all home constantly, I guess this one got hungry and brave. It managed to hoist himself (herself?) up on chair or maybe the old dryer we had put out on the porch, and open the lid of our trash can. After pulling out some pizza crust, he decided to scale the scaffolding on the back of the house, which goes up past Joseph’s windows.  This is how the dialogue went:

3:30am: I am awakened out of sleep by commotion in the hallway and I can hear Joseph and Shannon talking in heated whispers and tense laughter. Then, J knocks and comes into my room:

J: Hey mom, I don’t want to alarm you, but there’s a raccoon on our roof. 

Me: OK…

J: He climbed up the scaffolding, I thought it was a PERSON – I mean a serial killer – so I pretended to be dead. Then I saw it was a raccoon. He’s HUGE.


Then as we hear the patter of raccoon feet above us, Shannon proclaims in a loud whisper from the hallway: I HEAR HIM….

We all burst out laughing. After stomping around on the roof for a few minutes, maybe eating his pizza crust, the masked bandit made it back down the way he got up, and we made sure the cats were accounted for inside to avoid any additional confrontation.

Buh-bye Mr. Raccoon!


Last, but most certainly not least, for this week’s chronicles, I finished strong (well, by my standards…) with recording a hymn for our church choir on video.  This was way, way outside my comfort zone, but I know it’s pretty much outside all of our comfort zones, so that definitely motivated me to figure it out.  After considering my surroundings, my lighting, how far away I could put the music and still read it, and my amateur iphone videography skills, I situated myself in my office and did a couple of practice tries to be sure everything worked.  Any of my fellow choir singers, or just singers that are reading this, I have to say…this was a PROCESS. 

First, can I simultaneously listen to the pre-recorded instructions/accompaniment and press record, toggle between screens, then manage to plug in headphones? Yes.  But, then I would realize I forgot to clear my throat and/or take a sip of water.  Take 2.  Whoops, forgot to plug in headphones on time, panic stricken face on video. Probably a couple of swear words in this outtake. Take 3. Plugged in earphones, cleared throat, then husband walks in.  Argg…..! He apologizes, and says It sounds great. I must have glared not lovingly at him.  He Leaves.  Take 4I seem to have done everything correctly, gotten over worrying about the possible glare on my glasses, my lopsided face and I don’t even bother listening to the recording because IT IS DONE NOW.

The happy ending to this story is that Mark Dolan, Music Director at St. Matthews Church is a wizard, bravely tackling new technology, and he encouraged us all to do this. He put together a really lovely video of our choir singing and people seem to be enjoying it. Even my husband who doesn’t give praise lightly, said it was “wonderful”.

My mantra these days is: One small thing, because I tend to get overwhelmed with my thoughts and trying to do too much. But I’m appreciating some challenges to focus myself, feel satisfied that we can do hard things in hard times, and this week I think I managed to do more than one small thing.

If you are interested in viewing the St. Matthews Choir singing Hymn 296, here it is:



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