I have to run earlier and earlier, to avoid people... and to avoid heat.
But it was lovely, when I ran this morning. I took my phone, to snap a few pics.
It was a little creepy seeing this burnt sign, in front of our neighborhood store.
Last night while we watched the fires and looting on TV, I got a text. A neighbor had heard that the grocery sign was burning. I still don't know what caused this. Some say electrical. But there is something eerie about seeing this image... when fires have been burning in cities around the country.
In the news, we've had pretty much non-stop Coronavirus coverage, for 3 months. For the past 3 days, the focus has shifted to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. My heart aches for Mr. Floyd's family.
I sit in my house and watch the protests on TV. Almost every major city is involved. What happened in Minneapolis, is really a National problem.
There are people protesting peacefully, wearing masks, holding signs. But the images that stay in my head are the ones that show fires and looting... tear gas, rubber bullets, anger and violence.
It's scary to watch things unfold. Those protesting for justice, have been overshadowed by outside instigators.
From Riots to Space Travel
It was quite a contrast, seeing the launch of SPACEX, later this afternoon. Watching the countdown, took me back to being a kid again, in 1967. In fact this whole day, took me back to being 10 again.
In the summer of '67, we lived in Kalamazoo. I remember our family constantly watching the news on our black and white TV. They were covering the riots in nearby Detroit. It was a worrisome summer, in our odd rental house.
But at the end of the summer, we moved to Tallahassee. The world suddenly seemed exciting. The house we bought had belonged to a NASA astronaut and we were suddenly living not so far from Cape Kennedy!
So today, was a worrisome day, with a bright spot.
In the past 3 months, so many new words and terms have become a part of my vocabulary. This new Pandemic Language is not my favorite, but I tried to make it fun. I thought I could make up a game with pandemic words. I looked on line for ideas.
Melania's Word Search
I found this little ditty on the internet. It's a White House Word Search, that Melania created a couple months ago. It was meant to offer up some some family fun time. Hmmm? I wonder if she's made any new ones, lately. I don't know why this cracks me up.
Pandemic Word Search
Here is a list of words that could be used for a more up to date word search. Very few of these words and phrases were ever spoken by me, before 2020.
I don't think I'll bother putting these into a word search, right now.
I think I'll avoid pandemic talk and focus on Italian, instead.
I bought some Italian language CDs in February, to prep for our Italy trip in October. Chances are pretty good, that our trip will not happen. But just in case, I might do a little Italian lesson today.
Hey, I just noticed the word ESSENTIAL on this booklet! Maybe our trip will be essential too!
Four Years Ago
Today is my 76th day of griping about Covid. It was on this day, 4 years ago, that I began complaining about Cancer.
2016 and 2020
Four years ago, I was breezing along happily, when I suddenly got my breast cancer diagnosis. It felt like an abrupt intrusion, similar to the invasion of Coronavirus in recent months.
Covid and Cancer, are both rude, stubborn, powerful and scary. But at least with my cancer, the doctors knew what they were dealing with. There's incredible uncertainty with Covid, but at least we have a world of people who share our worries.
Sharing With Friends
Hunkering down at home, was something I did a lot of 4 years ago. After the initial jolt of halting plans and canceling travel, I learned to appreciate a slower time. I've always been a cloud watcher. I did a lot more of that, then.
I'm enjoying the clouds now.I also learned to appreciate family and friends. I was touched by the people who reached out to check on me and I've tried to remember that.
Connecting with others has been important for all of us, during these recent months. Back in March, there was a lot of comfort, knowing that we were all in this together. For the first time ever, most of us knew where all our friends and family were. We could text, email or call and know someone would be there.
Cancer and Covid
I never had to deal with Cancer and Coronavirus concerns at the same time. But many have and do. In April I communicated with a dear friend who had just learned that she had breast cancer. The news broke my heart.
In early April, she faced her scary news, at a time when elective surgeries were canceled and walking into a doctor's office was considered dangerous. She was also navigating the new world of working from home, while overseeing the online education of her 3 kids. When she looked to me for advice, I was at a loss. How could I begin to understand what she was facing?
In early April I sat around in my comfy clothes, just like I did after surgery and chemo days. I tried to think back on what I remembered.
...I thought back to when I first got the news, four years ago.
My good friend and nurse practitioner, spoke with such a calm voice,
"It's hard to believe right now, but this really will just be a bump in the road..."
I remember thinking that was sort of ridiculous.
But oh how right she was!
I was 59 at the time. I was retired and had no young kids to juggle. But 7-9 months seemed like a huge chunk of my time. And those months with surgery and treatments went pretty slowly. But suddenly I was looking back and it was all behind me.
So thinking back, I realize that period of my life was good. The kids were able to visit and there was no such thing as social distancing.
I told my friend that you need to be with people (or communicate those) who lift you. It becomes very evident who lifts you and who drags you down. My family... our kids and extended family, lifted me more than I ever could have imagined.
Since my friend is very independent and strong, I knew she would need to be reminded about being open, to help and advice. Ignore when you need to, but be thankful that people do care.
We both have strong and caring husbands, but you never know how they will handle their new role. I chuckled as I shared about Don's humor, helping me during my "Big Haircut" and chemo treatments. Luckily Don also knew how to keep things quiet, when I was not in the mood to laugh. It's a tricky job, being a helpful spouse.
I'd like to think that in exactly 1 year, my friend's cancer treatments and all this covid worry, will seem far, far in the past. Maybe we'll both be looking back and even laughing at some of the positive or funny moments that occurred.
What will be my best memories from Covid 2020? Time will tell.
Beach and Pool Crowds
This morning's news was filled with cringe-worthy photos of crowded beaches and pools, over the Memorial Day weekend.
I can't imagine anything less fun than gathering with these crowds, all celebrating post-quarantine freedom!
Something tells me, these folks probably didn't get the memo about self-quaratanting, after partying at Lake of the Ozarks.
I'm all for celebrating the beginning of summer. We did last night in the yard.
Don made a batch of tiki drinks and we dragged the turntable out to the patio.
This isn't the first time we've gotten a little kooky with our quarantine holidays. But we seem to be getting a little sillier with each celebration.
For the record, it was just the 2 of us... and a camera timer.
We needed a camera to capture our tiki attire. I'm wearing flamingos and Don's wearing hula girls... although they seem to be hidden.
The combination of Lapu Lapu Cocktails and Exotica music, was very inspiring.
Don did some drumming with metal straws and I did a flamingo dance. Not flamenco.
I started this post, griping about the crazies out there celebrating. Well, we may not have been spreading our germs, but we were definitely having our own crazy time.
I know today is not only about barbecues. I know that it's a day to honor those who have sacrificed to serve our country. But this Memorial Day feels odd.
Our neighborhood flags have been getting a little battered by rain this weekend. That seems to add to the feeling that this holiday is different, than in past years.
This quiet Memorial Day weekend, reminds me of 4 years ago, when I began this grumpy blog. I was waiting on news from doctors. There was lots of uncertainty about the future of my health.
I remember feeling distant, knowing people were barbecuing and gathering for a holiday, when I wasn't in the mood. Today I also feel a heaviness, hanging over this day. While much of the country is still struggling to keep safe and close to home, others are celebrating the easing of restrictions. Many beaches and pools are jammed. I'm so glad to be home. I find this whole period confusing.
But luckily, I have this goofy guy to spend time with, this weekend.
And luckily, we have some goofy kids who are game to enjoy some oddball, stay at home fun.
A week ago, we mailed the kids some Lotteria bingo cards and some blinking accessories. A little mix of Mardi Gras and Cinco de Mayo!
Don called out the Spanish words. Everyone got to pick prizes from a list of mostly nonsense Amazon goodies... to be mailed. There was an extra prize awarded if your "LOTTERIA!" line up, included La Corona!
We had a good time and we also got caught up. It's nice to know our kids in California and Oregon, are making wise decisions as we face more options about getting out in this post quarantine world.
I'll end with this fine pic, that I stole from Heidi's Instagram. Oh how these kids and their sweet pets make me smile!
The Sunday Times
I called my dad early this morning to remind him to watch CBS Sunday Morning. He's been staying away from the TV news lately and I thought the show would be a nice balance... current information and subjects, along with some uplifting and even funny moments.
But he sounded distracted on the phone. He asked if I'd seen the front page of the New York Times.
I hadn't, so he read it to me.
I knew we were nearing 100,000 deaths, but it was grim to hear that landmark number. It was even more sobering to know that the names of 1,000 victims were listed. That was a reminder that we aren't just talking numbers, we're talking people.
So Dad and I talked a bit about how glad we are that we have the option of staying in a safe place, away from all this Covid worry. But he and I both know that this virus is mysterious and unpredictable. Dad was tested the other day, along with his entire assisted living community. Another resident is in the hospital, with Covid. Now I'm back to worrying again.
This New Yorker is sitting on my kitchen table today. It's reminding me that this is Graduation Day, for University of Texas students. They are graduating virtually, from home.
I can't even imagine how challenging it has been for college seniors these past months.
The stresses of finishing a thesis, or taking exams is difficult anytime. Add in the sudden jolt of being booted from an apartment or dorm, moving back with family... then struggling to finish, with no certainty about jobs or future.
I only know a couple of seniors this year. It was tough knowing what to write in their cards. It would be a lot tougher being the parent of a grad this year. I remember how it felt to watch my kids graduate. I can't imagine missing out on that.
Senior Year of High School
A week ago I watched the virtual graduation special on TV. I wonder how it felt to be a high school senior, watching. The show was about as uplifting as you could hope for. I was glad they kept a positive focus. We didn't need to be reminded of what the kids are missing.
Missing out on a real ceremony is sad, even for the kids who say they don't care.
I've been thinking about those special seniors this year, who are first in their family to graduate from high school. I'm thinking of the valedictorians, eager about giving their speeches. I'm thinking about the kids who had been looking forward to proms or sports banquets or music concerts. Or the kids that just needed closure, after 12 years of school. They had no idea when they started their final semester, what was ahead.
I've spent a few days, thinking a lot about students and graduations. I've thought about my own kids' ceremonies. There were no pandemics interfering and I didn't know to appreciate that.
But today, I allowed myself to stop and recall my own last semester of high school. There was no global crisis, but a change hit my household as suddenly as a virus.In March of 1975, my world turned a little upside down, just like the students in March of 2020. My parents out of the blue, announced they were splitting. Our family crisis came with no warning.
When I look back on how I navigated those next months, I feel like I can relate just a bit, to some of the kids today.
For me, everything had been breezing along beautifully, when suddenly my home had a whole different feel. My plans for college suddenly shifted and the focus was not on Beth's prom or graduation. Our house went on the market and my future was totally uncertain.
The last months of my senior year weren't what I expected, but I made it though. My "home virus" didn't affect anyone besides my family. There was no Twilight Zone World outside the house. No deadly virus, sweeping the nation. All the end of year activities went on as planned and I attended, with a slightly different perspective. I was like all the kids every year, who happen to participate in a celebration, while dealing with loss or crisis of some kind.
Trying to compare my 1975 to the struggles of the 2020 class, is a huge stretch. I won't try to pick which crisis I would have preferred. But I must say, the kids who graduated this year, will always be an amazing bunch. They'll have a bond with 2020 grads from all over the world. What an accomplishment for these young people. Their parents should be extra proud!
In the Present
It's been frustrating, not being able to plan ahead. Don and I indulged ourselves, imagining travel possibilities this summer. The thoughts got worrisome. Then we thought ahead to Christmas. Will the kids be able to fly home? We went back to living in the present... watching the birds in our yard and the people walking on a nearby sidewalk...
It's not healthy to "live in the past" all the time, but I've been doing more of it lately.
An ad popped up on Instagram, offering a year subscription to Reminisce magazine. $7. for 7 magazines! I ordered a subscription for my dad and one for me. I figure once we get them, we can talk on the phone and chuckle over some of the spotlighted features.
In the Moment With Dad
Every time I talk to Dad, we start out talk about NOW. He tells me if there are any birds at his bird feeder. He tells me what the headlines say, on his Springfield paper.
I tell him about the progress on our latest puzzle or what sounds I hear in my neighborhood at the moment. He knows, I'm not stuck in one room, but I want him to know I'm restricted like him.we are all restricted.
Food in the Future?
I often ask Dad what he had for lunch. He's never overly enthused, but he often adds, "I can't complain. I don't have to cook and they deliver my meals to my room!"
The other day, when we were talking about food, I dared to ask about the future. "So someday, when we're past all this and you can dine out and have the feast of your choice...?"
I guess that wasn't a good question.
Dad answered me quickly, without any real emotion.
"Oh, I don't think we're ever getting out of this."
And that made me pretty sad. We went back to talking about the past.
I never tire of asking about the plays that I remember Dad directing. Dad likes talking about the past, when he was doing creative, important things. Don't we all.
When I was a kid, I didn't understand or appreciate most of the shows Dad directed. But I'm curious about all of them, now. One play that I don't remember, was the first play he ever directed. He told about the local production of "I Remember Mama". He directed it when he was still in high school.
On Mother's Day, Dad told me the movie version was showing on TCM.
"It's pretty sentimental. he added.
"You mean like, sappy? Or corny? Or good sentimental?" I asked.
"Oh a real tear jerker. It's good." He said.
I love old movies, so I was happy to watch. It was nice to be able to talk about the movie with Dad the next day.
Mostly, the movie made me think back to the past, with memories of my own mom. Thinking back to the past is a lot better than living in the past.
I turned on the news this morning and allowed myself to absorb some of the devastating facts, that we've been dealing with for months.
More than 2.4 million Americans filed for unemployment last week. 38.6 million filed, in the last 9 weeks.
On May 9, the New York Times showed these words on their late edition.
I began thinking more and more about the past. How different it was for our country, in the 1930's. Job loss is devastating anytime.
People fretted over the headlines like they do today, but they gathered around the radio for updates from President Roosevelt.
CBS Sunday Morning on TV
A few weeks ago, I was touched by piece on the Sunday Morning program. They compared images of the Great Depression, to photos of today.
There were bread lines in the past and drive through food banks, today.
The famous Depression photo of the woman and her children, was similar to this image of a worried woman, today. If both were in black and white, the mask would be the only reminder of the date.
I was moved by the show and ended up calling my dad.
What do you remember?
My Dad was born a year before the Depression started. I asked what he knew about the struggles of their family.
He's told me before about the loss of the family business, that his father worked for. But I he had never talked about anything else. Dad thought a moment.
"Mother got a job for a while." Dad recalled. She sold flour and she actually really liked working." He laughed. Maybe it was a nice getaway from a house with so many young boys.
"We always had food. No one talked about money worried."
Then he paused on the phone, as if a memory was coming back.
"We did have fun. We used to go for long drives. My dad would take us in the car out in the country and we'd drive and drive and drive. One time we were gone so long, my brother cried because he thought we were lost!"
Dad thought that was funny. Then I remembered the summer drives our family of 6 took, on warm summer nights. Dad and I went back and forth a while, remembering the wonderful smells that poured in our open windows... Colonial Bread factory and mowed grass and the greasy aromas from drive-in burger joints!
I like the way our discussion of The Depression ended happy.
Dancing on my Toes
Don was cooking the other night, when I got inspired. I gave him a little dancing show, while he worked. Ouch. My feet still hurt. I got the idea of dancing in oven mitts from someone else, but the skill was all mine.
Oven-Mitt-Boot-Dancing is a lot harder than it looks!
I cranked up the volume on "Alexa" and let Nancy Sinatra fill the kitchen.
I stood high on my toes and "stomped" in my quilted boots, trying carefully not to crush those delicate thumb-heels!
"These boots are made for walkin' and that's just what they'll do!"
I haven't had such a good time since I danced around in go-go boots in 5th grad! It's going to be kind of sad when we start getting back to normal and I have to start acting my age.
I actually don't need to worry about running out of books. I have a huge pile of books that I'm excited to read. I just wish I read faster, so I could get to them all!
But my reading progress is slow. I'm distracted these days.
Initially, my attention span was just poor. I was constantly fretting about our new complicated world of Coronavirus. Now I'm distracted by birds or weeds or cracks in the wall, or things I should be doing. I still feel guilty, reading in the day.
Books for Kids
I've got plenty of books, but some people are running out of things to read. At the beginning of this stay-at-home period, I FaceTimed with one of my favorite families. They were doing well, as I expected.
There are 3 kids in the S. family and they are used to entertaining themselves, with books and games, art and cooking... an unusual family for 2020.
When we chatted in April, they laughed about how they were running out of books and wished they'd had a big trip to the library before lockdown.
So, I ended up digging through a boxful of old chapter books. There were favorites that belonged to my kids and my childhood picks, as well. I was glad that the kids were eager to adopt some of these well-loved treasures.
My Old Favorites
There were three books in the bunch that took me back to 6th grade. Oh how I loved reading the books about the "5th Formers" in their boarding school. I told Hannah that just like her, I was in 6th grade when I read them.
Then I suddenly realized Hannah and I were having a similar 6th grade experience.
Hannah is finishing her last months of 6th grade, schooling from home with her family. She seemed surprised when I told her my 6th grade memories were sort of the same. "I went to school in the fall and then after Christmas, we moved. I learned from home for the rest of the year."
1969 in Italy
I explained that when I was 11, my family moved to Italy, for just a half year. Instead of attempting Italian schools, we packed school books and my mom planned to teach the four kids.
I wish I could find a photo of our dining room table, in the apartment. It was a massive thing, forever buried in books and maps, pencils and paints. Mom gave each of us lessons for a couple weeks. Mostly though, we spent those months following whatever excited us. It was kind of like a quarantine house in 2020, only we had no TV or computer.
Cooped up in the Apartment
We four kids played together and we bickered and teased. We had crazy character tea parties and floated paper boats in the bathtub. We played Blind Man's Bluff and Foosball.
We learned about Dante and Michelangelo and the Medici family, because they were names we heard every day in Florence. We played games with the maps that were pinned to the walls, because we were curious... and bored.
We also quietly did our own thing, in whatever corner we could find.
My seven year old brother painted fantastic scenes of Florence. My older brother focused on learning Italian. My sister played folk songs on her guitar and I wrote my "autobiography" in the attic.
And we read and read and read.
No More Books
I remember running out of things to read and borrowing books from my siblings. A Human Comedy, To Kill a Mockingbird, Up a Road Slowly, A Miracle Worker...
Then our family took a trip to London and the 6 of us spent what seemed like hours in a book store. We came back to Florence loaded with books... in English!
What Did I Read?
I can remember what I read in the winter and spring of 1969. The books I read during that time, I will always associate with Italy.
I hope these kiddos are enjoying a few of these books. I wonder if they'll remember the books they read during lockdown. And will I?
I hope these kids get back to their school in the fall, like I did. I remember starting 7th grade with an enthusiasm for school, that I had never had before!
September seems far away. I so hope there are good surprises in the fall.
I Love Bread
There was a day when I used to make bread, but who has time for that?
Now I have time, but there is no yeast! Don has tried and failed on his grocery store trips. I made my mom's recipe for Beer Bread and it was so bad I through it out. Sorry Mom, I think your recipe is okay, I just cooked it into a brick.
Don made corned beef for St. Patrick's Day. That was way back at the beginning of all this lockdown stress.
It took him forever to track down corned beef. He was not at all lucky finding rye bread. We froze the leftover corned beef and finally found some rye bread! Yay! Many weeks later, we had Ruebens!
Dry Banana Bread
A lot of people are making banana bread these days I was thrilled when my bananas got ripe. I made the bread!
But I guess there wasn't enough banana This looks okay, but I had to slather on butter to moisten it. It still tasted dry.
Right now I am craving Italian bread... as in bread that you eat IN Italy. I want to be sitting at a cafe with a glass of Chianti and some hard rolls with cold butter. Yes, that's what I want right now.
Texas is Opening
Texas is easing restrictions. It's worrisome. Some salons and restaurants are open. I could get my hair cut. Don and I could dine in an actual restaurant if we wanted. But I'm not ready.
If I could trust everyone around me, I would be ready to venture out a little more. But there are too many people ignoring the virus and refusing to wear masks in store.
We'll just do carryouts from places like this neighborhood restaurant. With a sign like this, I know the owners are taking things seriously. Unfortunately, many of their customers aren't. The young woman working there, said they had been "booed" for having a sign, requiring masks. I told her the sign made me want to be a customer!
Lowe's Hardware Store
Two days ago, I went inside a store for the first time in two months.. Don and I cringed at the crowded parking lot, but felt relieved once we got inside.
The majority of customers wore masks and kept their distance. I felt like everyone was pretty much "getting it". There were reminders over the speakers now and then, telling us to respect social distancing. This is a weird world. But I was appreciative.
Who Will Wear Masks?
I was relieved that my first store outing was successful. I was happy to get all the things we need, if we hunker down for a couple more months. But, how are things going to get out there? Will people start feeling less uncomfortable about masks and just start making it routine? I doubt it.
When you have a president who refuses to wear a mask, you can't expect everyone to think masks are important. President Trump didn't even wear a mask when he visited the mask making factory.
The doctors who are trying to share their wisdom, are wearing masks now. He is starting to look like the silly one out there.
Pretty soon, he will be the only one out there not wearing a mask. This just makes no sense.
We've all been doing it. We've been spying into homes and we've been judging.
It's actually really entertaining. I just stop listening to the news and I stare at whatever is behind the news person... or the celebrity. I like to examine the bookshelves. I see there is a turntable behind this guy...
This fellow needs to tidy his books! But I adore his fireplace. Is this real? Does he live in a castle?
I got up close to the TV and studied these shelves! What are these little cutie things! Is that possibly a miniature puppet theatre, over her right shoulder? I need that! I love all her treasures. I should listen to what she says, because I like he whimsical things!
Peeking at Mine
I'm not doing Work Zooms or interviews for TV, so it doesn't matter. When I FaceTime or Zoom, I usually sit in the dining room, where my cell service works best. But where would I sit, for an important video call? I might be judged!
I could sit in front of my living room bookcase. There are a few tumble down books, I could fix. Would anyone see my antique refrigerator. I hope so.
If I actually wanted to reveal the real me, I'd place myself in front of this silly case of books and junk!
This bookcase is full of themes that I love. When I volunteer with kids and senior groups, I use themes that everyone can relate to.
I've got all my props and books, at the ready, for the next time I gather with one of my groups.
When will that be? When can we gather and talk about boats or telephones or picnics?
Who knows? A long time, I'm afraid. But until then, this silly shelf delights me. I need to dig into this collection and amuse myself with some books and toys. Maybe I'll do my next Zoom here.
Sugar Land, Texas
While pausing at a stoplight today, I studied the big sign at Smart Financial Centre.
It's sad to see the sign messages are still all about Covid. No announcements about shows and performers.
Hurricane Prep Week
Well, there was one other announcement. I guess it's Hurricane Preparedness Week! Or actually, it was last week. That means we're closer to Hurricane Season.
After I got home, it started storming. It's still raining and there have been flash flood alerts. I'm not really worried about hurricanes at the moment, but it was hard not to be reminded about Hurricane Harvey, in 2018. Our neighborhood had a mandatory evacuation, due to concerns of the rising Brazos River. That wasn't fun.
Oh dear. Floods, hurricanes, tornados, fires... these things happen. How does this all work with a Pandemic?
I've had lots of gripes about mail service over the years, but I actually do appreciate it. Especially now. Delivery workers must be feeling stressed.
Thanks to mail and UPS delivery, we've been able to get most of what we need without entering stores.
I've also been able to recycle all those envelopes.
I haven't been to a store in 2 months, but I've been to the post office 3 times. That's because I've had "essential mailing" to do. Essential for me... to send important things like chocolate chip cookies and puzzles and books to my grown kids.
Extra Slow Mail
It's frustrating that mail seems to be slower. But sometimes there's a good excuse. My daughter apologized for her late birthday gift. She didn't realize the craft kit she sent, was being sent from Turkey! It was pretty exciting to know how far my gift had traveled!
I fretted that my dad hadn't gotten the box I sent, with cookies. He's been confined to his room in assisted living. He needs those cookies before they get stale! Then I realized, his mail was being quarantined before they delivered to his room. I felt relieved to know they were being extra cautious.
Sometimes this quarantine feels like the Olden Days. Food rationing and pandemic flus, makes me think of my grandmother in 1918. She had to send a telegram to her mother when she got Spanish Influenza. Phoning was expensive back then. Letter writing was common.
This odd, backward time, has inspired me to send letters. Snail Mail is a good way to connect with some of the senior folks that I work with.
I don't have many options for cards in the house, but I did find quite a stash of old photos. I was able to make some cards and get rid of some junk at the same time!
On Cinco de Mayo, I got my own package in the mail!
My childhood friend, Diane said she had aimed to get the surprise to me in time for May Day! We both share memories of May Baskets, filled with sugary treats!
The mail was a little slow and the packaging took a bit of a beating, but my surprise was a total delight! The little box was full of the same candies and treats, that Diane and I would have bought at our neighborhood store, back in Grinnell, Iowa!
After getting the box, I texted Diane right away. Then I dug in for a feast. Later, I made a card, with a photo of a Troll doll. It's the blue-haired doll, that I played with, when Diane and I were neighbors.
A few days after mailing the card, Diane sent a text with this image.
Our trolls stood together! That made me grin.
One More Text
I replied to Diane's text. We talked about getting together in the future, when this pandemic is over. Maybe we'll have an adventure in Texas or Vermont, or somewhere between our homes.
Then I dug into my closet and found my "autobiography", the one I wrote when I was 11. This was the scribbled illustration, that went along with one of the many stories about Diane and me.
I love all the little reunions that have come about, thanks to this awful pandemic. So many people seem to be communicating more, with friends and family. Texts, phone calls, Zoom meet-ups and old fashioned mail!
It's hard to beat this little combination of old-fashioned & modern communication, with my old friend. Thanks Diane!
Hard to Look Glamorous
I had issues with my looks, nearly 4 years ago. If I'd been young and wrinkle free, I might have been braver about going out in the world bald. But, I wasn't that brave.
I did the wig thing and I also had tons of scarves. Don bought about 12 different tube-like boho-scarves and we ended up having some fun with fashion!
Looking Glam Today
It's hard to look fashionable today, since my hair is pretty awful. My last hair appointment was in December. Best to keep a hat on.
But those boho-scarves from 4 years ago, are back in use! Now we wear them around our necks when we walk. We pop them up, whenever we see anyone approaching. Do we look lovely or scary? Doesn't matter. Nobody would recognize us and gossip about our style.
Don has messed with some of our these stretchy boho scarves and given them a whole new look.
Gotta love this guy with his engineering and fashion skills! Gotta love a face mask, held on with a mini-carabiner!
It's easy not to shake hands, when you don't go out in the world. But how will it be, when I start getting out more?
How will we greet, with no handshakes and no hugs?
How long will this really last? Will our great-great-grandchildren laugh someday, when they see old movies with people shaking hands?
We've been talking about hands for months. Hopefully everyone is better about washing them.
But we've been hunkering down at home, we haven't been practicing as much.
Some people will be happy with an excuse for NOT shaking hands. Others will forget over and over. A week ago, the President sort of forgot about handshaking.
He went to visit the mask factory. He started to shake hands and awkwardly corrected himself with a hug. That's better. He also "forgot" to wear a mask when he toured the mask factory.
I wonder how many remember their last handshake. I do remember. Don and I went to a furniture store, in early March. The salesman introduced himself and shook our hands, before I could remind myself.
We bought a couch and he tried to shake again. So now I also remember my first handshake refusal.
I laughed and reminded the salesman, that we weren't supposed to shake hands. There might have been a fist bump, I don't recall.
No Handshakes Ever?
Not every culture shakes hands. My daughter in law reminded me of a lovely gesture she sees with refugees that she works with. Some place a hand over the heart... or offer a gracious bow.
But reaching out and greeting with touch, seems so natural.
Right now, I'm thinking of those who are quarantining alone. I am feeling incredibly sad at this moment when I think of my dad. What will it be like for him, when he first is allowed out of his assisted living lockdown. He is a big hugger. We might need to get really good masks! I think I will go call him right now!
I know I shouldn't watch, but I can't help myself.
Today, I watched part of the briefing in the Rose Garden and just shook my head. We're leading in testing! The number of COVID-19 infections and deaths are declining in US! These statements baffle me. And what's with those big bragging banners?
When the President opened to questions, I was stunned to watch how he handled a reporter, with her "nasty question". He got annoyed and suddenly removed himself from the briefing.
Lately I've been wishing we could gather around an old radio and get encouraging words from a leader like FDR.
Or maybe we just need a little glance at the local news!
I got a tip today and made sure we watched the ABC, at 6:30.
There was Little Jessie! We've known her since she and our daughter met, in 6th grade band. Now she's a nurse practitioner, who just returned from 40 days in NYC.
Thank You, Jessie!
Jessie is the kind of leader we need in our community. She's willing to do a whole lot more than wear a mask, to show that she cares.
I haven't been to a grocery store in 2 months, but Jessie just spent 4 weeks in the epicenter for Coronavirus cases. I know we can't all do what this young woman is able to do, but we can stop griping and appreciate!
Covid-Themed Mother's Day
For many, this is a complicated Mother's Day. Many are faced with decisions about how to celebrate Mom, with a lurking pandemic theme. I'm kind of glad my Mom Day was simple.
I'm missing Mom and my kids today. That's nothing new. I would have been missing them today, regardless of quarantine-time.
In recent years, Mother's Day has been a day to enjoy memories of my dear mom and to chat with far-away kids on the phone. Today is the hardest on families who live near each other, but are trying to stay apart.
I'm glad I wasn't one of those people torn with making a decision, about going to Mother's Day Brunch.
Many restaurants in Texas were open and serving brunch, today. I wasn't a bit tempted.
Keeping it Simple
Don offered me coffee in bed and I said, "Why not?" I've never been one to even want breakfast in bed. But, these are different times. Time to try new things, like lingering a bit, with my funny little book.
It was lovely outside, but we stayed inside, long enough to catch CBS Sunday Morning. The show was extra soothing today, with lots of tulips!
We decided to support one of our local Chinese restaurants for our noon meal. Kung Pao Chicken and Orange Chicken!
I was in heaven with my tea and chopsticks. Our Chinese feast did make me miss my mom and the kids, though. We have a lot of shared memories from numerous Chinese restaurants. Mom taught the kids to love Shrimp Toast and Crab Rangoon!
Gifts and Zoom
In the afternoon, it was time for gifts and Zoom. Those kids of ours made me laugh, as always! I'm so glad I have 4 now!
I miss the days of homemade cards and potholders. But there's nothing quite like Quarantine-inspired Mother's Day gifts! I am beyond touched that these kiddos have given me gifts that will give me hours of entertainment! Crafts and seeds! I will plant and stitch and think of them!
I keep saying it was such a simple, enjoyable day. But I forget that it was probably more stressful for Don. He was once again in charge of making sure my pandemic celebration was enjoyable. April birthday... May Mother's Day... Father's day????
In the evening, Don served me some Clos Pegase Rose. It was from a California winery, that we had planned to visit next week.
After a bit, a few little gifts slyly appeared! I absolutely can't complain about my Mother's Day.
In fact, the weather was so perfect, I didn't want the day to end.
So many of our shared quarantine days have felt long. (Especially in March) But, this was a good, long day.
My fortune cookie told me it had to come to an end.
My Not So Happy Blog
How dare I say "I don't like pessimism", when this is my 58th complaint about Coronavirus... after 200 complaints about Cancer!
But this is a venting blog. I'm allowed. I vent daily, so that I can be the optimist that I usually am.
Does that make sense?
Right now, I'm more delighted about the smell of my neighbor's Magnolia blossoms, than I am bothered by my itchy bug bites.
But earlier this morning, I wasn't so positive. I've been easily annoyed lately. Blame it on the Pandemic! But this pandemic is really dividing people now. That's actually more scary and sad, than annoying.
Today, I headed off on my run in a negative mood. I started at 7:30 am, which is late for me. This is how quiet my route usually looks. I go before the sun is up, to avoid people.
Today, I felt stressed to find out just how many people run and walk and ride bikes, a little later in the morning.
Navigating around people, just made me feel uncomfortable about everything.
I was bothered by the strong smell of bat guano, when I crossed 2 bridges.
I was bugged by the sound of a man playing tennis. (courts are open now) His throaty grunts were echoing in the morning air. And the air itself was so cool and breezy, it made my eyes water, which meant I kept touching my face. Then I saw 2 different people I knew, which led to two awkward greetings. I just wanted to see no one. I was a grumpy jogger today.
The Ribbon is Back!
Then I saw something that totally made my day! I've been running by the Hope Tree for over a month now...
In early April, I added to the tree! I wrote some positive words on a ribbon and tied it on the highest branch. (which was not an easy task) A few days later, I noticed my ribbon was gone. I cringed to think it had blown away and had become trash.
Today, I saw my ribbon, tied on a low branch! Someone rescued it, risked contamination and tied it back on the tree! That Hope Tree changed my mood today!
I am hopeful!
All this Covid news has made me curious about past pandemics. I've recently been thinking a lot about Spanish Influenza and Smallpox. After watching CBS Sunday Morning, I've been wondering about Polio.
How incredibly sad, that Polio affected children more than adults. Seeing this image of a child looking at his parents through a window, reminded me of the photos I've seen of isolated Covid patients. Sad.
The image that haunted me most, was one of a room full of "iron lungs". How terrifying! They look like metal coffins.
It still seems impossible that our world in 2020, is dealing with a pandemic. But when I imagine how hospitals dealt with past diseases, it makes me feel lucky to be alive today. Today's ventilators are like yesterday's iron lungs. Both scare me.
I Love Vaccines
I know there are lots of Anti-Vaxxers out there. But I love vaccines!
It's helpful, to remind myself of the discovery of past vaccines. I was born in 1957, soon after Dr. Salk's polio vaccine had become widely available. I'm glad I didn't suffer from the crippling illness. I could have, if I'd been born just a few years earlier.
All this thought about Polio made me want to talk to others. I called my Dad and asked if he remembered anyone, who dealt with the disease. His adopted sister! I never knew.
I texted my sister Jennifer, who is only slightly older, but has more connections. She told me a story about a doctor she once went to, who actually dealt with his patients, from inside his iron lung. Unbelievable! Jennifer has a friend, who grew up with an iron lung (her mother's) in her living room.
So today, I remember so many past diseases, with all their complications and I try to be hopeful. I know it may be a year, or 4... or more, before we have a Coronavirus vaccine. But I will cheer and celebrate and take that vaccine whenever I can!
National Day of Prayer - Today
Today, I learned that it was the National Day of Prayer. I read that news, as I sat on the balcony, with Tibetan Prayer Flags flapping in the breeze.
The flags were a gift from my daughter-in-law, a few years ago. I tucked them away, waiting for a special time to use them. I forgot about them, until recently.
Tibetan Prayer Flags
I can't believe I never really understood how these were to be used. Now is the time to learn, when our entire world is dealing with a crisis.
There are a lot of different ways to worship in this world. Some pray and some don't. But these prayer flags offer a symbol of hope, for all.
The flags are supposed to be displayed high. The breeze carries the blessings of each flag, while bringing good will and compassion to all beings.
It's hard to argue with that.
The five colors represent five elements. Blue for sky and space, white for air and wind, red for fire, green for water. Yellow symbolizes the earth.
On this day, I hope that people who pray, do so for all people and not just themselves. I hope they don't try to pray the virus away, because we need to do more than pray. I hope prayers go out to people around the world, not just the people we know.
On this day, I'm going to also think back to the Norman Rockwell exhibit that I enjoyed, just weeks before lockdown. I was moved by the four images from 1943... Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Worship.
Nearly 20 years later, Rockwell was able to share a more worldly image, in his piece titled, Golden Rule. I remember seeing those faces from around the world and wondering about their prayers and thoughts.
We are all in this together near and far... praying, hoping, wishing, together!
In the past two months, we have all learned how to connect with others. Most of us have latched onto Zoom or FaceTime or some special way, to feel closer with friends and family.
Today, an interesting connection happened, when the Blue Angels did one of their flyovers, in our area.
This flyover was meant to be a salute to the frontline Covid-19 responders.
Don and I could see from the map, that the jets would fly over our Sugar Land hospitals, not far from our home.
We thought about driving to a parking lot near I-59, for a better view. But the notice discouraged people from "traveling" to see the event. Maybe we could see from our home.
I texted some of my neighbors, in case they hadn't heard. I texted my "Book Club Friends" even though we don't all live in Houston/Sugar Land, anymore.
Around 11 am, the texts started coming in! Lisa and Lorrie were in different parts of Dallas, but both experienced the flyover. Lorrie, got a great video, from her balcony!
Then Christy was caught by surprise on her morning walk in Fort Worth.
My son-in-law's mother in Dallas texted me, to say Blue Angels were headed our way. She'd seen it on the news.
At 12:30, Don and I stepped onto our balcony and hoped. We weren't sure we'd have a view, but I liked the idea of seeing this experience from home.
We began to see neighbors stepping out in yards, looking up. We waved down to one family, who had walked out by the lake.
"I hope we can see it!"
There weren't many of us, but it was a fun connection. For a moment, I thought of the Italians singing from windows and New Yorkers, banging pots and pans. It feels good to connect.
Suddenly we heard the roar! It was quick and I fumbled with cell camera and almost missed it. But it was a treat, just the same! We saw them from our home! The same 6 jets that our Dallas friends had seen!
More Sharing Texts
The texts continued! Friends shared bits of video and descriptions.
I've seen airshows before, but there was something incredibly symbolic about why the Blue Angels were traveling in the area.
My Italian neighbor a few doors down, added a different video to our thread. I'm not sure when this video is from, but it put a lump in my throat. The colors formed a rainbow... while opera played.
I've been so concerned for our this special family. Their worries began much earlier. Their loved ones back in Italy, dealt with Coronavirus long before us.
I was so excited about our little bit of sky excitement, that I texted more family.I shared my short video with family in California, Idaho, Oregon, Louisiana and New York.
My brother in New Orleans wrote right back.
"I think they are coming our way!"
Sure enough, before 2 pm, Dave was sending us video from above their home in New Orleans.
The texts continued!
In the evening I messaged my friend Ann. Her son-in-law is one of the Blue Angel pilots, who flew over today. I said, "You must be so proud!" Then I let Ann know how the very quick flyover, had filled my day with little happy connections. So many people I knew were sharing their Blue Angel moments. This event was meant to salute the workers, but it lifted the spirits of so many who are staying at home!
Like a full moon that our families can enjoy from all over the country, those 6 jets connected us in a magical way. What a boost!!
I started this complaining list/blog, in May 2016. I posted 200 gripes about my breast cancer and then I was done.
On March 13, 2020, I started venting all over again, when another disease (starting with a C) interfered with my life. Only this time, it was affecting more than me. I ranted for a year, until I got my vaccine in March 2021.
Coronary Artery Disease was the reason I restarted this blog on September 26, 2021. This time it was Don who was dealing with a worry that started with the letter "C".
Coronavirus and Cancer, Coronary Artery Disease! All are evil, but none can totally get me down... if I vent! I usually end up feeling a little more positive at the end of each post!