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Posts Tagged ‘coronavirus’

Today I woke up with new hope in my heart. Can’t explain it. According to the news we are going into a rough two or three weeks.  This, as if the past couple have been a walk in the park. To honor my hopeful mood I decided to dust off my makeup, slap some on my face and establish a modicum of normal is this extremely abnormal experience we are all going through. The cat, after seeing me looking my best, handed me a thank you note on her way to take her morning siesta. As a footnote she suggested I take several walks during the day to give her time to collect her thoughts.

Foot traffic on my street has greatly increased of late. People are beginning to feel the need for fresh air I would imagine after being confined for a while. Reminds me of the old days when neighborhoods were busy social meccas. Seems today a lot of people have no idea who their neighbors are nor much interest in finding out. Back in the day, women talked over fences while clipping clothes on the line and men worked under cars or tinkered in their garages. Summer weekends neighborhood kids gathered at houses with pools to play Marco Polo or to shoot a game of horse at the basketball hoops at the elementary school. Industrious teens earned extra money mowing people’s lawns, babysitting or doing paper routes. Later in the day adults broke out the charcoal and “Kiss the Cook” aprons, put some Nat King Cole or Herb Alpert on the turntable and threw some steaks on the fire. Two martinis were not an unusual order for lunch meetings in those days. Packs of Camels non-filtered and Lucky Strikes sat on tables next to ashtrays provided by establishments for customer’s use. Such a different time and place.  People had far less information at hand and lived in blissful ignorance. Today information is at our fingertips twenty four hours a day and sometimes I wonder if we couldn’t use a few less second to second updates to give our minds time to breathe in between bursts. Those were simpler times in many ways, with far less rules to follow.

Something I have noticed since this damnable virus took over our world is that common courtesy seems to have come back in fashion. People are waving as they pass one another walking on the street. When in a store even though giving each other a wide berth, shoppers seem generally polite or to be acknowledging one another.

Perhaps this is by way of a wake up call for us. Truth is we are all in this together, bug or no bug. Perhaps whoever created our planet isn’t happy with how we have managed ourselves? Our world is after all only on loan to us while we are here, leaving us responsible to conserve it’s bounty for the generation to follow. No matter what religion or ethnicity we claim, in the end if we do not work together to do our best to maintain the magnificent creatures and glorious trees and flowers entrusted in our care we will all have lost the game by default. Slowly but surely our rain forests are dwindling, and our factories and cars continue to spew out toxic emissions that threaten to destroy our atmosphere. Man’s selfish nature will most likely be his undoing far before disease will take him down.

For me, I am trying to check on at least one friend or loved one every day. My phone rings often of late. People are checking in on me as well, some I haven’t heard from in ages. Wouldn’t it be great if we maintained these connections once the dust has died down and life, hopefully, has returned to whatever the new normal is to be? When we are able to move about freely again I know I will find a hug from my little ones far sweeter, and time spent with my loved ones and friends just that much more precious.

Maybe we should lean over the fence and explore who lives across the lawn from us rather than running in and out out of the front door without bothering to cast a glance in their direction? When was the last time you heard anyone say “run next door and borrow a cup of sugar”? We segregate ourselves with our devices and rapid fire lifestyles missing out often on what is right before our eyes. How many times have I passed a child trying to get a parents attention with the parent fixated on the screen in front of them? Life is short, children grown up quickly and those moments cannot be recaptured.

So, I shall take this time to reflect on how I live my life, because that is the only one I can control. Each day is another opportunity to get it right I believe. You can always start with right now to change a way of being. A friend of mine and I have been doing Qigong and Tai Chi exercises together on Skype. Really enjoying it. For months we have talked about it but have never done it. The movements in the tapes help to strengthen your body and enhance your flexibility. Must say though I fight exercise I find this type of slow movement and release of energy leaves me feeling refreshed and my mind cleared.

Hope we see the light at the end of this tunnel soon. My thoughts are with the people on the front lines of this pandemic who are fighting an unseen enemy with insufficient tools. They are the heroes in this story and most likely hold the key to how the ending will turn out.

Stay safe.

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So tempting right now to feel sorry for myself. No one can deny this is a trying time in our world. I’m sure it will be talked about, analyzed, and revisited often by generations to follow. Yesterday the sadness at the loss of my personal freedom became real for the first time. I feared a pity party to be on the horizon. My way of dealing with a full on, no holds barred, over the top Susie Pity Party is to immerse myself in the spirit of it, blow up a few balloons (probably using real explosives), then calm down, eat a brownie and get over it. If you can’t get around a mood then hop in the middle of it, get it out of your system, and move on.

Lately the earth feels unsettled. At least it does to me. Oceans are rising, ice caps are melting, infighting is the name of the game in Washington and all over the U.S., and though the economy may have seen some improvement (up until now of course) the middle class has slowly been whittled down from a strong robust tree to a toothpick. Hard not to be a little pessimistic when looking at the big picture. Yet, in spite of the virus tormenting us at the moment, just beyond my spare room a cherry tree proudly displays it’s gorgeous array of vibrant pink blooms. Each time I pass the window, the boughs beckon me invitingly as if to say, “enjoy”. Somehow spring with it’s warming days and light breezes, no matter what else may be casting shadows, always brings with it a fresh breath of hope. The trees, bare and skeletal during the winter months, begin to bud and flower. Bulbs push stems up through the earth, calves litter the pastures as you drive along rural roads, and Easter, a time of rebirth and renewal appears on the calendar. Life seems not to be ignored, and a fresh new face is painted on the land.

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In this spirit of spring I decided to pull the potting soil out of my shed along with my trowel and gloves and tackle the front yard potting project I’ve been putting off. While out in the back gathering what I needed, a little freckled face surrounded by a mass of unruly copper curls appeared over the fence. The girl, after politely inquiring as to who I was, responded in kind by informing me her name was Bridget. Her conversation, as unpredictable as her ringlets, moved from one subject to another as quickly as a drill sergeant marching down the line inspecting his platoon. Though never had I seen the tenants up until now, I was aware the house was recently occupied. Mom, I knew this only because Bridget was a fount of information, was seated on the back steps staring intently at the book on her lap. Looking up only when prompted by her daughter, she introduced herself maintaining an acceptable social distance, then returned to her book once the pleasantries were done. With mom otherwise engaged, Bridget continued shining her light directly on me firing questions in machine gun fashion one after another. I could still here her voice after I’d excused myself and disappeared beyond the fence towards the front of the house. During the exchange Miss Bridget told me about her two dogs, Pluto and Reggie. Reggie, looking to me to be a bull terrier mix, had already made my acquaintance some weeks back while I was sitting at the dining room table doing paperwork. Movement outside the window caught my eye. Looking up Reggie stood perched on the narrow ledge along the fence dividing the two houses. He checked me out for a moment then nimbly hopped down on the street side of the fence. Working his way to my front yard, after twenty minutes of sniffing, seemingly satisfied he’d located his sweet spot, he squatted and left a large introductory gift on my grass. “Thank you, Reggie”.

Like everyone else I’m feeling the walls close in a bit at my house with my time being spent just hanging out with Miss Boo. Not that she’s not good company mind you, she is, but I have to say she’s not much of  conversationalist. Yesterday I was sharing something interesting I’d read on the internet with her and the cat unabashedly turned her back on me and yawned. Even for a feline, she has attitude.

While I’m feeling a bit isolated, others may be suffering from too much togetherness. Little ones tiring of games and TV may be beginning to chafe at the bit to get out of the house and spend some of their excess energy. Parents, having their name called forty times before pouring their first cup of coffee, may be wishing they could have a moment’s peace before starting their day.  For me, I’m craving a little human companionship. The closet thing I’ve had to personal interaction in days was Miss Bridget of the fence and the Door Dash delivery guy who dropped dinner off on the porch and sprinted for his car.  I surely miss Rick during these times. Feels like the last couple of years I have been constantly doing battle. I’m ready to put down my sword and declare peace across the land. I’m tired. A little calm would be most welcome. When I find myself in a tight spot such as now it is helpful to remind myself of the people far less fortunate. Street people, for example, with no shelter to comfort them, no heat at the touch of a fingertip, and no one to comfort them if they are sick. Usually this is the kick in the behind I need to restart my engine. Today is no exception.

Miss Bridget arrived to remind me new life is a constant no matter what is going on around us. Planting the yard to show there is perpetual flux in the world we live in. The flower bed, nothing but soil and rocks at the moment, will be a riot of color in a few weeks teeming with life. Bees will be buzzing around the new blooms helping to pollinate a new another season of growth. Change isn’t an easy pill to swallow. We are faced at right now with total disruption of our routines and uncertainly in our future. This does not make for solid ground on which to plant our feet. However, we humans seem to show our best sides to the camera when times are tough. Stories of neighbor helping neighbor, brave first responders, generous donors, keep popping up on the news programs to boost our morale and remind us in the end we are all in this together.

Keep the faith, keep busy, get to know your neighbors (from a safe distance), lend a hand when and where you can, and ride out the storm safely. Have a productive day.

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Last night my brain went into hyper drive. Hate when it does that. Up until now I’ve been a little nervous and had that “unsettled” feeling in the pit of my stomach about what’s going on but the seriousness of the situation sort of settled over me. If we actually had to huddle in place for eighteen months what would that look like? Small insignificant inconveniences began to occur to me. Not being able to get my hair cut or colored or have my teeth cleaned, for example. Both seem insignificant now but what will my pixie cut look like if this drags on as long as predicted? Am I going to be a long haired senior with outrageous roots and no teeth? What about vet visits for Miss Boo or the alarming lack of toilet paper or anything else for that matter in the stores?  Will whoever is hoarding the paper goods or is sitting on a pallet of hand sanitizer be in danger as the need for these items becomes more critical? Apparently gun sales are also up. Something to ponder when you’re staring at the ceiling at the middle of the night. So many questions floating around in the air with no answers in sight, or so it seems.

People who have their savings tied up in stocks are looking at a bleak market, as well as small businesses forced to either go to delivery or lay off their employees and shut their doors completely. Usually I am a consummate optimist but even my fairy dust spreader seems to be on the fritz the past few days.

On a slightly positive note, lest we all fall prey to despair here, we seem to be coming together as  a nation. Suddenly the division we’ve been experiencing over the last three years seems far less important than the situation we currently find ourselves immersed in. Countries normally at odds are being forced to work together to fight a common enemy and democrats and republicans have to lay down their swords and work toward a united goal. One thing I learned out of the pain of losing Rick a year and a half ago, there is always a gift hidden in suffering. Even though you often can’t see it while going through it, it will reveal itself.

Yesterday a dear friend came over. We meditated, which was extremely relaxing, and watched something funny on TV taking our minds off the world for a bit. I ordered books on line to fill the empty spots and took out a sewing project I have put off in lieu of other more pressing things I had penciled in on my schedule.  As the weather improves I’m going to begin to take a daily walk again. The only downside to owning a feline rather than a canine is they are resistant to joining you in an activity requiring actual exersion. Boo’s idea of a rigorous workout is walking from her bed to the feeding dish and back.

In the middle of all this uncertainty I try to find things to be grateful for. Thankfully, it isn’t summer yet. Not that I have anything against summer. As a kid I looked forward to the dog days more than any time of the year other than the holidays. That last day of school when you are released for three months to swim, stay up late and generally drive your parents to the liquor counter. It was a glorious freeing right of passage before having to face the pitfalls and responsibilities that come with achieving adulthood. However, these days summer in California signals fire season is on the move and PG&E hosted blackouts have become the standard of the day. This year I have a generator. I am most thankful for that. A friend is coming to help me understand how to use it. Times like this I do so miss having Rick to lean on but again I am thankful I am blessed wonderful friends who allow me to lean in their direction from time to time. For now there is food in my cupboard but the plan is to begin planting the large bed towards the back of the property so fresh vegetables are handy should there be a need. A plus of doing a project like this is that along with helping yourself keep fresh food on hand it occupies a busy mind for a while giving you a break from the stress swirling all around us.

Rain is returning to the area over the weekend. The dry soil is lapping it up like a thirsty dog after a long hike. Though not filling our cup it certainly has added to it so I am most thankful for this. With the weather seesawing from warm enough for short sleeves and shorts to chilly enough for sweaters and scarves it is hard to know what to take out of the closet. Today I will be thankful I have a closet with clothes hanging in it to choose from.

Each day I try to check in on my friends, in particular the ones who live by themselves and are more isolated than I am. If it weren’t for my asthma I would answer some of the calls for volunteers to deliver food to shut ins or help with distributing food at the food pantries. I have signed up for working away from direct contact so have been busy on my computer doing what I can when I can.

The doctors and nurses working on the front lines of this crisis are amazing. How difficult it must be for their families who are left to fend for themselves and worry about their loved ones. So, I include them in my prayers before closing my eyes at night.

This will pass as all bad things do but for now we are left to tune in the news in hopes of hearing a viable cure for this virus has been developed or stay inside and protect ourselves from a suddenly dangerous world. Keep the faith, or if that is not your bag at least try to keep positive. Anxiety is also a dangerous road so try to do things that relieve your mind for a bit to keep you from traveling down it 24 hours of the day.

Stay safe, be vigilant. Talk soon.

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Woke up this morning, washed my face and poured my coffee as I do each morning, but it didn’t feel in the least like a typical day in the neighborhood. When I first opened my eyes I wondered for a moment if I’d been dreaming there was no food on the shelves or if it was actually true. Walking past the five six packs of bottled water now stored on my dryer, the reality of the situation once again dropped over me like a lead tarp. The restrictions on our lives only in place for a short period of time it already feels as though I have an ankle monitor snapped around my ankle making the front door seem like an impassable line with danger lying just past it’s borders. Darn.

Yesterday I had to go to the grocery store. I found myself totally unprepared for the long lines and empty shelves waiting for me there. My shopping cart was half full by the time I got in line with the rest of the people buying whatever they could get their hands on. Luckily I got two loaves of wheat bread which should last me quite a while if frozen, because by the time I passed the bread aisle the only loaves available were a couple of raisin and one rye, and people were fighting over tortillas. What, as they say, is our world coming to?

Doing my part I have cancelled all my non-critical appointments and placed myself on a in-house arrest. Not one to let a lot of grass grow under my feet during normal times this is a difficult sentence for me to accept. However, the same principle applies here as I apply to littering. It’s not the one plastic cup a thoughtless guy tosses out the window ending up on the side of the road that destroys the beauty of our roadways and national parks, rather it’s the accumulated cups of many indifferent litterers creating the eyesore. All of us working together will hopefully help to bring an end to this difficult bug.

Life lately reminds me a bit of the only white water rafting experience I have had until now. The river in question was located in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies. Though early summer, the water was the temperature of ice water requiring rafters to pull on wet suits before heading downstream. There were six occupants in our raft plus the guide. Instructions were given by him as to how to proceed. Each of us held a paddle and were told we would be asked to row at given times during the ride. “Should you fall out”, the guide went on to say, (Fall out? What? Am I falling out?) “point your feet downstream to avoid hitting your head on rocks or objects either above or below the surface”. I can remember being absolutely terrified as we began our descent through the first round of rapids. “Row”, was yelled from somewhere behind me, and though my hands were nearly frozen my survival instincts kicked in and they obeyed the command digging my paddle deep into the roiling water. We drove down over the top of a roll of water. Freezing liquid momentarily washed over me capturing my breath before we resurfaced. “Mama”. At one point at a somewhat slower fork in the river we passed a huge moose standing by the bank watching us as we tumbled along. Probably the massive animal was thinking, “humans, go figure”. I know I was.  In the middle of the chaos I gave in to the ride and allowed the exhilaration of the experience to overtake me allowing me to settle in and feel the excitement. Finally reaching our destination, I wanted to jump out of the raft and go back up and go down again.  Though truly there is no excitement involved in what we are experiencing at the moment, I do feel that once through the rapids if we do what is necessary the water will once again smooth out and calm will be restored.

This whole situation gives you plenty of opportunities to work on conquering fear. For me, I live with a cat. Though a loyal companion she is not much by the way of help in a crisis situation. Secondly I have asthma and this with my age puts me smack dab in the bullseye of the vulnerable group. Keeping a cap on allowing fear to overrun me can be a daily, even moment to moment proposition. Thankfully I have friends and family checking on me regularly to make sure my head is above water and my feet are pointed downstream.

In the end all the worrying in the world will not alter the outcome. Either I will make it to the end of the river or I will not. Truly it is as basic as that. As I have mentioned I do not intend to waste any of the time I have left in my life so I shall believe in what I believe and move on with conviction. What else is there to do?

I have been keeping in touch with people, catching up on things around the house, working on the dreaded pile of paperwork waiting for my attention and generally trying to convince my mind things are going to settle back into a routine here pretty soon and life as we knew it will return to normal, or as normal as mine gets.

The cat, unaware of any shifts in her universe, sleeps peacefully on the pillow next to me totally oblivious to it all. Must be nice. Must admit I am feeling a bit world weary and frayed around the edges. How lovely it would be to be able to simply relax for a little while without something showing up which makes the world seem a little more unsettling. Makes me mindful of how people must feel in war torn countries forced to deal with uncertainty every day of their existence without respite.

Because it is how I cope with things I try to count my blessings during stressful times, thankful for the roof over my head, food in my cupboard, and people populating my life. It’s tempting to want to stack paper goods up to the ceiling and buy peanut butter by the crate, but if we do that there will not be enough for our neighbors, family and friends so I try to buy responsibly.

Last night I did deep breathing exercises before I went to bed. Still my mind conjured up scary images while I slept and woke me up way to early to begin the process of dealing with a different feeling world once again.

One of the things I did learn while pushing through the grieving process after losing Rick was that as dismal as today may seem, a month, six months, a year from now everything will appear much differently. Hope always hangs brightly in the distance like a beacon in the storm.

Hang in there. Read that book gathering dust in the den, pull out that knitting project you never finished in 2010, take an on-line class, teach your kids to cook. Get creative. Talk soon.

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The old statement, “if it isn’t one thing, it’s another” certainly applies to my world of late. I don’t know who’s credited with this little gem but they certainly knew what they were talking about.  Two weeks ago my mother fell once again and had to have eight staples in her head. Thankfully she’s on the mend with no noticeable changes in her physical or mental condition. To add to this mix we are all dealing currently with the coronavirus which not only populates our airways and conversations but is running rampant across the country. Today I have to take my mother to get the staples removed which naturally requires a visit to the doctor’s office, not the first place you think of going when there is an unchecked virus on the loose. By definition, a doctor’s office is where sick people go.  Also, she hasn’t been able to have her hair washed in two weeks. You are shaking your head thinking, “and?”. To understand this you would have to have lived with or around my mother and other ladies of her generation. Once a week whether caught in the midst of opposing gunfire or fighting off malaria women of her age group gathered at the beauty salon to have their hair washed and set and to catch up on the latest news swirling around.  Mother has forgotten many things but this particular weekly event is permanently affixed in her mind. Because she has broken her hip this cannot be accomplished at home so a trip to the beauty salon is also on the table. Another undesirable germ paradise to look forward to. Armed with alcohol wipes and determination we shall overcome this as well.

As I have said many times previously, being responsible for yourself is a big enough task but having the responsibility for the well being of another person you love really adds another layer to your days. Not that I ever mind, I do not. I was in a caregiver’s group when Rick was sick and one of the ladies asked me if I was ever resentful. My answer was an honest no then and it would also be a no in my mother’s case. Tired, yes. Frustrated at times, no doubt. Never, though do I feel resentful. As we baby boomers move into our golden years (golden right) and are living longer, many of the generation following us will be tasked with taking care of our needs as we cannot. From what I’ve read a lot of us haven’t planned well for retirement. If I was in a group asked who had not I’m afraid my hand might be waving in the air. I thought I was planning well but life didn’t always cooperate and somehow the years got away from me before I got a handle on it.

Fear of the virus being the rule of the day the stores are being depleted of everything from hand sanitizer to paper products. Yesterday I went out with a friend in search of toilet paper. A quest I have never before considered to be fraught with pitfalls. First we pulled into Costco. On reaching the back of the store the pallets with paper goods sat completely empty and we were told they were not going to be restocked until the next shipment arrived. The clerk jokingly suggested we subscribe to a newspaper. Hmmmm. Next we hit Walmart only to discover they had paper towels but not one roll of toilet paper was available for purchase. We passed an elderly woman on the way out of store who had two packages of TP in her cart. My friend jokingly asked if she was planning on selling them on EBAY for $50.  She smiled, but then I could see her mind working. Oh-oh. This really upsets me when people dive in to take advantage of an already dire situation. For example, a friend told me about a Dean Koontz book, The Eyes of Darkness, in which he eerily predicts a virus with similar manifestations emanating from a lab in China. The book was written I believe in the early 80’s. For those of you unfamiliar with his writing it is of the same genre as Stephen King. At one point I’d read nearly everything both men had written. I thought it might be interesting to search for it and give it a read. Though most copies I found were reasonably priced, I found one copy out there, paperback mind you, listed for $899. Probably last year it was going for $2.99. Really? Do these people sleep at night?

With all that is going on health wise and politically this can be a difficult world of late. People are angry and afraid, not a good combination. Had a person tell me the other day “people can be disappointing”. There is no correct response to that. People can be many adjectives. I don’t think you can take one word and use it as an umbrella to cover all like creatures. Some people can definitely be disappointing. Most people are disappointing at one time or another, but people in general are not always disappointing. To my mind at least. If you feel the need for labels along with disappointing you might toss in inspiring, kind, joy filled, generous, and a myriad of other uplifting words that apply to most of the people in my life.

You might not believe this, knowing me as you do, but I am highly imperfect. Being flawed is part of my charm, or so I tell myself. Every day I make mistakes but I also try to learn something new, be impressed by the world around me, do something without expecting something in return, and remember smiling is still free. I stumble and fall along with the best of them, quite often both figuratively and literally. I do try to be my best self and give myself due credit for that. Like a painter touching up a painting by an old master with cracks and flaws after many years of exposure, I keep healing the wounds and heeding the lessons coming my way. Somewhere inside of me I hold to the belief that lessons keep coming our way until we pay attention. In my life this has definitely been the case. If I strayed along a path over and over again that didn’t serve me I continued to elicit the same result. It’s like the universe knocking on your head saying, “hello, anybody in there”? What is that saying, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result”. There you go.

Truth is I don’t aspire to be perfect. I think a perfect person, and up until now I haven’t met one, might probably be boring. Imagine a life with nothing but perfection in it. How would be even identify it when we had no imperfection to hold it up against? Without the rain there would be no rainbows.

As to this virus, I really don’t know where we are heading with this. For me, I will not give in to fear. I will follow the guidelines and use necessary precautions. I wash my hands thoroughly and often and am careful about not touching my face. This, for me by the way, is the hardest thing not to do. Who knew? Other than that I still have a life to attend to so shall do the best I can to keep up with it with the limitations now imposed on it. My son and his family were headed to Disneyland for my granddaughter’s eighteenth birthday this weekend, but Disneyland is no longer an option having closed their doors. It is hard to sort the wheat from the chaff on the news stations so I have taken to listening for a few minutes and then turning the TV off. Too much of a bad thing cannot be good for you.

Though most St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have been tabled, at my house I shall be in the kitchen cutting up the cabbage and carrots to be tucked in next to my corned beef in the slow cooker. Yum and yum. Find your joy where you can.

Hope this finds you safe and well on the beautiful pretend spring day, at least here in Northern California. It is March, yes? Supposed to hit near 80 degrees. Weird.

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