Posts Tagged ‘covid’

I had minor surgery on my back yesterday to remove a cancerous area. This is not my first rodeo when it comes to this type of surgery, and it won’t be my last. As I said in my previous blog, it is the curse of being a fair skinned, light eyed person of English descent. I shall drop a note to the Queen one of these days and tell her I don’t at all appreciate the extra burden my British ancestry has imposed on my life.

The appointment was set for the ungodly hour of 8 am. It’s not like I’m not up with the chickens, but don’t necessarily wish to be on the road that early now that I’m not punching a clock anymore. Several friends called to wish me well, putting me a little behind. I gathered up the accoutrement it appears necessary to get me up and running and locked the door behind me. In the car, I cranked her up, and noted the “check engine light” that keeps turning on and off, was once again front and center on my dashboard. I contacted Ford the other day to get an appointment to get this looked at and the overly burdened lady in their service department told me she could fit me in just before the holidays roll around again this year. Sadly, with everything being so far behind, I told her to add me to the roster. Sigh. What’s a girl to do?

Pulling out into the street I glanced down at my feet only to have instant realization of how distracted I have been of late. Secured on both feet were my big green fuzzy slippers. Thankfully, I noticed before I plodded into the doctor’s office to check in for my appointment looking like an oversized version of Oscar the Grouch. If there are any keepers out there needing work, please leave your applications with my people and I’ll get back to you. Good Lord. So, back in I went, now late, and shoes were put on both feet as it should be. All was well with the world.

The procedure took about an hour. Once they anesthetize you, the worst of it is over. Until, of course, the numbness wears off. I was a dental assistant in a former life. One of the things I liked least about the job, and there were many, was being the one who prepped the syringes. Always, I felt like the executioner getting the noose secured to the scaffold. The practice I worked for specialized in orthodontia. That being said, most of the victims, uh patients, were children. That was difficult for me. Why on earth I ever decided to go into that field to begin with still boggles the mind. I can’t stand the dental office. The smells, the noise, the pain, the blood. I would rather be shot in the foot. What was I thinking? I actually wanted to be a medical assistant, but couldn’t handle the thought of giving people injections. Perhaps neither job was in a field I should have been sniffing around in. As a teen, I wanted to be a nurse for a while, like my paternal grandmother. Somehow I knew my total inability to deal with visceral issues such as throwing up or worse meant I wasn’t ideally suited for training for that profession.

After the surgery, they had me straddle the chair and drink apple juice from a juice cup. A nurse came in and handed me a package of crackers, instructing me to eat them before leaving. With the little shirt on they gave me to wear during the procedure, I felt like a fourth grader. To complete the picture, the doctor kept referring to me as a “peanut” because I am a rather slight human. Truth is, I didn’t mind it. I’ve been called worse. So, I can check that off my list. It felt strange when they asked me to confirm my information at the front desk. One of the questions the lady in reception asked was whether Dale was still my emergency contact. “Sadly, no”, I replied. Watching her delete him from my records felt deep to me. The significance of that action was not lost on my heartstrings. I have to go back every two days and have the bandage changed for twelve days, because where the wound is located I am unable to reach myself. The universe was giving me a clear message, “You’re on your own, kid. Better learn to deal with it.” Heard and received, thank you very much. Driving towards home, my mind told me I needed a treat so before merging onto the freeway I pulled in behind the other cars at the Starbuck’s drive-thru. A caramel frappuccino has cured many a rough day for me.

After I came home, I gave myself a rare pass for the day and binge watched Netflix shows and did not one productive thing to support my goal of being a useful human being. It was rather glorious. Wouldn’t want to do it every day, but I think my body was telling me it was tired and needed to rest, and I felt I needed to honor the request.

Today I am stiff, but doing much better. I seem to have picked up some juice after wiling away a 24 hour period on my back eating Doritos and enjoying some chill time watching Grace and Frankie. Definitely, a walk is in my future today before those corn chips decide to take up permanent residence on my posterior side. I had to cancel a session I signed up for several months ago with a local grief group meeting today which saddened me. This was a new group, and I was looking forward to meeting others in the area dealing with the loss of a spouse or life partner. With things as they are right now with the bug, going into an unknown group of people who have a choice of whether to mask up or not is not an option for me. Between my mother, who is most vulnerable, and our littlest member, who is three, I can’t take the chance of bringing a hitchhiking germ home with me.

One thing I remind myself frequently, as these are challenging times, is that a year from now things will look different. As with everything, the tide will go out again and we will return to normal (whatever normal might be). So, I forge on undaunted and plan to clean out closets and drawers today in case the Queen stops by for tea.

Take a breath, drink in the glorious pink colors cascading across the sky as the sun comes up, and hold tight to the good thoughts of better days to come.

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I got up early this morning to go get my blood drawn. Even though I’ve had Covid, am fully vaccinated and boosted, and stamped with the USDA seal of approval, I still can’t help but absorb all the Covid news circulating on the television. Makes you ponder the thought, will this ever end? I got a text from my mother’s caregiver this morning alerting me positive Covid tests are required 48 hours prior to a visit until February. Problem is I can’t find any tests locally. Tried to order them on line and some of them were $84 for a kit. There’s always someone willing to make a profit on misery I’m afraid. It doesn’t help that there is so much conflicting information being given out by this agency or that. First, they said cloth masks were fine, now they are not. Then it was hospital masks were the best. Just when I got settled in with those, an MD came on some talk show and said they provide little or no protection. Now they are saying the N95 masks are the ones to wear. I have several, but when I wear them they keep steaming up my glasses. I guess that’s better than getting sick, but I am feeling a little sick, sick and tired. Maybe I should just wrap myself in visqueen and duct tape and be done with it.

Do you need anything at the market?

I have friends in both camps on this question. Some of my friends have their food, prescriptions, well everything they can really, delivered. Others, wear masks hit and miss, or seem to always have one floating around somewhere under their nose or hanging off one ear, and don’t seem much concerned about it one way of the other. I also have friends who are unvaccinated. These friends create a problem for me. My world is populated with an elderly mother, vaccinated but not yet boosted, and a three year old not eligible to be vaccinated as yet. They are my concern. Most likely I would just suffer mild symptoms if I got the bug again, (already had it at the beginning of all this), but the result of the virus for them could have far more serious consequences. So I float about in the murky world in between trying to protect myself and those I love as best I can.

There was an older gentleman in line in front of me at the lab standing full on the 6′ foot apart marker as the large sign instructed. When I got in line behind him, he stepped off the marker for a moment and turned to acknowledge my presence by nodding and I think smiling. Hard to tell these days what a person is doing beneath their masks. For all I know, the man could have been sticking his tongue out at me. Preparing to nod and smile back, a big fly took that precise moment to dive bomb my glasses and I waved it off with my hand. The man, I’m assuming thinking I was gesturing he was too close to me, took the hint and hopped back on his marker and waited to be called with no further communication. Life, at times, is just too funny.

I don’t like having my blood drained. Sometimes it feels to me like they keep filling and filling the little vials. Makes you wonder if you have enough left to keep things working properly. Lately, blood banks have been advertising big time for blood donors. I have never done that. For some reason, I always thought they wouldn’t take mine. Writing that the statement it sounds ridiculous even to me, but that is the truth. It’s not like I’m suffering from anything vile, or am carrying something I am aware of I could pass on to an unsuspecting recipient. In spite of that logic, I have for some obtuse reason, always had the feeling I would go in and sign up and they would look at me and say, “No, but thank you for thinking of us”. Now that I’ve said it out loud and committed it to paper (so to speak), I believe I need to do it both to help people who need it, and to clear out the cobwebs in the logic making section of my brain. Definitely a malfunction somewhere.

I am also scheduled for surgery later today for a spot on my skin that got a bad report from the lab. Thankfully, it’s not on my face, but rather somewhere lurking on a shoulder blade. The curse, so I’m told, of being a fair skinned, light eyed, person of English descent and a former sun worshiper. Let’s face it you can’t live in California if you are running around lily white. People here find it offensive. Now that they’ve determined the actual sun is damaging for our skin, people have turned to salons to get their tans or are having them sprayed on. I am the only member of our family I am aware of that doesn’t actually ignite when exposed to the sun. I will tan, and tan beautifully, and for doing so most of my young life must deal with what I will be dealing with a few hours from now. These days, I only worship the sun from afar from beneath a hat with a brim, lathered with twenty layers of industrial strength tanning lotion. Yawn, I know!

My mother’s last husband, Will, was a commercial pilot. Preceding his time in that job, he was a highly decorated fighter pilot during good old WWII, flying many missions in defense of our country. It is my understanding many pilots from that era went on to fly commercially. I also have an uncle on my father’s side of the family that flew many years for a large Canadian airline after his war effort. Will had much trouble with his skin in later years, having spot after spot removed from his face, arms and legs. This was attributed to the fact the glass in the cockpit does not protect their skin from the damaging rays. Apparently, the likelihood of getting melanoma and other skin cancers is much higher in flight crews then us ordinary landlocked humans.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be responsible for flying one of those jumbo jets. I have flown in smaller versions, and even taken a lesson myself. That was unnerving enough, but to man (or woman as the case may be) the controls of something that size must get the blood pumping at an amazing rate. Will described it as exhilarating, but the word that came to mind for me was terrifying.

My children’s father had a big yen for soaring through the air. After both children had entered school he came to me and said he was interested in getting his private pilot’s license. Oh boy. I had a feeling I would somehow be dragged into this desire, and it really wasn’t something I was enthusiastic about. Oddly enough when I was in college I wanted to be a flight attendant, but I got married and had kids instead and had lost the taste for it. After much cajoling I said fine, but said please don’t make it my quest at well though I would support his wanting to do it. Right. Well, it looked good on paper, again figuratively.

A flight school was located and money exchanged. Pretty soon, my other half’s weekends were filled with hours flying the friendly skies with his instructor learning how to maneuver the Cessna they trained in. On occasion, to offer support, the children and I would stand on the tarmac and wave enthusiastically as the small plane took off and landed and was put through it’s paces. To his credit, he saw the course through to the end and was finally ready for his solo flight to get his license. We were young, I shall preface, before continuing. The route was to take him from the small local airport near our house to Bakersfield Airport, another small local field. Yay. Amazingly, my husband suggested I accompany him. What? Really? Let’s hit refresh. The definition of solo, “done by one person alone; unaccompanied”. Hmmmmm, what part of that could you be missing?

As I said, we were in our early twenties. My only defense is my brain wasn’t fully formed yet. Truly I have nothing else to offer here. Again with much cajoling, I somehow agreed to this ridiculous idea and said I would go. A plan was formed. He would taxi down the field alone and then pick me up at an assigned place and we would take off together. K. Looking back, I can’t clearly remember how we finagled my getting in the plane, but into the plane I got. We flew up through the mountains and the wind was up. The wings dipped right, and then the wings dipped left. I realized at one point the sound I heard over the engines whirring was me praying out loud. Next, we hit a bank of fog moving in from the coast. By the time we hit Bakersfield, the soup was fairly thick. My husband contacted the tower for permission to land and instructions were given. I felt like I was leaning on one side when a voice came through the radio yelling “abort the landing, followed by our flight number”! Then he added now yelling, “Adjust your wings, you are coming in sideways. Oh man. When we miraculously finally touched down on good old terra firma, rather than just punching my hero straight in the nose, I made my way to the airport bar and ordered something double and alcoholic. When he suggested we were going to have to fly back, I said he was perhaps, but I definitely was signing off as co-pilot of that operation. In the end, I took an extremely expensive cab ride back home, the cost of which was never mentioned by my husband.

Small planes, propeller versions, feel to me like you’re hanging in the air suspended from a spinning top likely to be dropped to freefall spinning to the ground at any moment. This is, most probably, because that is precisely what you are doing. For those of us with an itch to soar with the birds, I would suppose it is one needing to be scratched. For me, I like my feet planted squarely on the ground and my face looking upward at the beautiful blue sky. What a lovely bit of capriciousness of nature, we are all so alike and yet so uniquely different as beings.

Happy flying, or singing, or drawing, or surfing to you today. Follow your dreams wherever they take you even if you encounter a little fog along the way.

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Well here we are at last. We just stepped in it, 2021 I mean. It will be kind of strange not to be referring to 2020 anymore, strange good not strange bad, mind you. This month should prove to be an interesting start to the new year. Once we get to the end of January, hopefully the dust will have finally settled over the election, many more vaccines will have been administered, some of the essential workers can put their feet up and enjoy some time with their families, and life can at least take the first steps toward returning to a sense of normality. Currently Northern California, where I make my home, is the only part of California not at full capacity in their IC rooms. We are in general, less populace than the midsection and southern end of the state, which could be contributing to our numbers being lower. Getting control of the virus will hopefully be the first and main concern of the new administration moving into the White House.

New Year’s Eve passed uneventfully at my house. As usual I didn’t make it to midnight with my eyes open. Well, if you go by EST, I made it. New Year’s Eve has never been a special holiday for me. Over the years there have been many parties and gala events I’ve attended but for some reason I barely made one serviceable memory of New Year’s Eve out of the lot. There was one back in the late 1990’s that was really a bomb. Not literally, mind you, but there was truly nothing redeemable about the evening from beginning to end. My main squeeze at the time loved, loved, loved New Year’s Eve. For him, it was the highlight of his entire year. As the holidays drew close the first year we dated, he suggested booking a New Year’s package at a seaside resort.

The New Year’s package in question included a two night stay at a four star resort in one of their premier rooms with a fireplace, sitting room, private hot tub and panoramic view of the Pacific. On the big night, we would enjoy a lavish seven course meal, complimentary champagne, and dancing following dinner in their grand ballroom. Sounded pretty grand to me. Aware he had spent a great deal of money on the weekend, I didn’t want to disappoint. About a month before the event, I went shopping and indulged myself in a particularly dreamy and well fitting sea blue formal with a touch of bling sprinkled across the front for a hint of magic. The shoes I bought to compliment the gown were also reached beyond my budget, but since the gentleman was paying for the entire weekend above and beyond my attire, I felt them worth the splurge.

At that time, I held down a very demanding job in a high tech company. The hours were intense. Many nights I would be driving home after a long day only to get paged (Yes, paged. This was before everyone and their labradoodle had a cell phone.) to return to work. Some days I had to prop myself up by sticking brooms under both arms to keep myself in a vertical position. Every night dinner was catered in the company’s incredibly well equipped kitchen because most people working their nearly called the place home. The job was demanding in so many ways besides the hours. I was a graphic designer for the firm as well as the only employee there with significant experience creating Power Point presentations including animations, and videos etc. This made me the go-to gal for such projects, and the need for my services came up frequently. The title Power Point Specialist was tagged on to my original title giving me more responsibility for the same paycheck. Sigh.

At any rate, the thought of a few days R&R was mighty appealing that particular New Year’s as I remember. Even though I was relatively young, the long days and little sleep were starting to do their work on my immune system. A few days after Christmas, I got a head cold. It wasn’t one of those colds where your entire face looks like you’ve been bobbing for French fries, but it was definitely slowing me down. After blowing my nose steadily for a day or so, the symptoms migrated to my lungs. Oh-oh. As is typical of my MO, I kept on pushing through the week, and by the time I reached the day before we were to leave I was beginning to feel really miserable. I had the chills and was hot concurrently, and my chest was beginning to feel as it it was being held hostage by a boa constrictor. I asked my boyfriend what the situation would look like for him if I couldn’t go. From the expression on his face I knew the answer wasn’t going to be “not a problem”. Apparently, he would lose his money, as it was too late to cancel, and his New Year’s would be a total disaster. Is that all? Sucking it up, I insisted I was confident I could rally. These words were coming out of my mouth, but my internal systems were all screaming in unison, “Noooooooooo. Run, save yourself”. I should have listened.

He picked me up at my apartment mid-afternoon. I had the day off so took advantage of the time to take turns sleeping, coughing, then sleeping and sneezing for a change of pace. Looking at my face in the bathroom mirror, I knew even that gorgeous sea blue dress wasn’t going to save me. Droopy red eyes, weepy nose, pale cheeks. What’s not to love? Hack. Trying hard to be cheery and good company as we drove up the coast, secretly I was hoping the nausea rising in my throat would remain at that level and not reveal itself on the carpet of his beloved BMW.

The hotel lobby was beautiful, still fully dressed for the holidays. It seemed to me they had switched the thermostat to sauna as riverlets of sweat made their way down my body. The urge to strip down and climb in the fountain which was the focal point of the massive entryway was overwhelming.

After checking in, our bags were loaded on a cart and we were escorted to our room. True to the brochure, the spacious suite had all the promised amenities, the most impressive of them being the glorious ocean view visible beyond the sliding glass doors. All I saw was the large bed calling my name. After a rather alarming coughing fit, my date suggested perhaps I needed to grab a nap so I’d be fresh for the night’s festivities. Ya think?

Waking up some time later, I pulled myself together enough to take a shower and apply some make up to my ashy cheeks. Dressed and ready for a celebration my body wanted more than anything to lie down somewhere until the room stopped spinning. Once downstairs, we followed the signs to a reception area where we signed in, we’re handed festive hats and noisemakers, and pointed towards the bar. I ordered a cocktail. Not. My head began a drum roll Gene Krupa would have been proud of. Ignoring the beautiful cocktail trays circulating among the partygoers, I struggled to convince my legs their function at this affair was to hold up my body.

When the cocktail hour was complete we made our way into the huge dining area. Each table was numbered so we wove through the maze and located the number corresponding with our tickets and sat at the seats with our names in front of them. Check please. Again, with all the people in the room the temperature had risen, along with, it appeared, mine. Whew. The first course was a simple plate of fruit, artisan greens, toasted pecans, and blue cheese drizzled with a delicate balsamic dressing. My stomach was doing the lambata just looking at it. I picked at it to appear interested and smiled when asked a question by my date or others at the table and nodded in agreement or disagreement at the appropriate moments. Ach. Six courses to go. No way. The second course was lobster bisque. Normally, I would have stood up at my seat and danced in place, as I do love a good lobster bisque, but as the rich smell made it’s way from the bowl to my nostrils my body finally took over the reins. Feeling unbelievably nauseous I sprinted across the room barely making it to the ladies room before the first course beat me to it. The groans coming from my stall prompted a guest outside to ask if possibly I was dying or worse.

My date was waiting for me outside the door. Taking one look at me, he guided me to the room where he deposited me in bed. I assured him I would be fine and to save himself and go on without me. Back down he went to enjoy the I’m sure delicious prime rib cooked to perfection followed by the promised Baked Alaska.

Realizing I needed something more than a less than helpful date, I phoned the front desk and asked if the hotel had a doctor on call. Explaining I was quite ill, a concierge doctor showed up within the hour. Pneumonia was his diagnosis. I was given heavy duty antibiotics and strict instructions to remain in bed (a choice I had already made) which I did for the remaining of my five star weekend. What a quiet drive it was back down the gorgeous California coast, a view I mostly missed because I was prone in my seat waiting for the grim reaper to arrive. Thankfully, after several days and the miracle of modern medicine, I began to come up from the fog. A lot is revealed about a partner during a crisis. In this instance, I learned the event and the outlay, for this person, outweighed my well being. Not only did he stay downstairs and get his money’s worth New Year’s Eve, but the following day while I was coughing up a lung, he booked a boat tour. I remember a therapist offering a bit of advice during a session years ago I’ve carried with me ever since. Pay attention not to what people say, because they can say anything. It is what they do that is important. Wow, has that been true. Someone can tell you anything. They could say they are in Mensa or that they beat out Ken Jennings on Jeopardy, but if they don’t know who Abraham Lincoln was, neither is likely true. People always show themselves if you know them long enough, and this was certainly true in this case. New Year’s Eve was pretty much the death knoll for our relationship, and nearly one for me as well.

So, that, among so many other New Year’s Eve sums up my love of the celebration. For me, feet up on the footstool, cat on the couch, popcorn in the bowl, perhaps a little bubbly in the glass and I’m good to go. Hope you enjoyed a safe and healthy New Year’s weekend. 2021 YAY!!!!

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Here we are four days after Christmas and my holiday decorations are still happily twinkling away. So not like me this behavior. The tree goes up the day after Thanksgiving, and comes down the day after Christmas. My best friend asked me why I feel the need to this. Why? There has to be a why? If I were to hazard a guess it’s because I’m a bit of an order hound at times. Order and having things where they are supposed to be is important to me. I’m not sure why actually. I don’t perform at my optimum when chaos abounds. My children remember me doing this when they were young so this has been my mantra for as long as they can remember. So firmly is this ingrained in me, I’ve thought of having a tee shirt made to wear for the occasions. But for this tradition, as with for so many other “normals” in 2020, it seems I have thrown the playbook out the door. The tree has brought me great joy over this unusual holiday season, and I intend to hold on to that happy feet feeling at least until the new year is rung in.

There’s always a little depression that settles over me once all the decorations are tucked away in their boxes for another year. The hustle and bustle of the holidays, with all the memories (good and bad) behind me, and a fresh new year unfolding with all it’s expectations and disappointments waiting to be revealed. I missed Rick especially this year, not that I don’t always feel his absence. I can’t imagine what he would have thought of all that is going on, but I certainly wouldn’t have wanted him to go through a cancer battle with all this other stuff floating around in the air.

I got to thinking this morning. I know! Sunday is my thinking day. I try not to immerse myself in too much heavy thinking the rest of the week. However, I have to devote at least one day a week to actual deep thinking in order not to fall off the edge of reason completely. It seems to me we have a harder time fighting or believing in the dangers of Covid mainly because it cannot be seen. In this case we have to have “faith” in our scientists and medical personnel to guide us in the right direction. Webster defines faith as “a firm belief in something for which there is no proof“. In the case of the virus, we do have proof. Our scientists and medical professionals are detailing the facts of the seriousness of this pandemic for us on one channel or another all day long. Hospital wards are overflowing and our loved ones are getting sick, or worse case scenario, dying. More proof. Still, the “enemy”, if you will, remains invisible. An opponent so small as to not be perceived by the naked eye, yet capable of pervading every part of our world with the sole intent of infecting human bodies and disabling it’s hosts. Not a good actor, not a good actor at all.

It seems hard to remember a time we weren’t either talking about the virus or hearing about it in the media. I feel like a sailor lost at sea for months and yearning to see dry land on the horizon. I am looking forward to sticking my arm out for my vaccination (hopefully with minimal side effects) and getting on with it.

It will be interesting to see how the transition from one president to another transforms. I surely wouldn’t want the job, and admire anyone with the willingness to serve signs up.

On the home front, admittedly my home front, I am dealing with several after Christmas dilemmas. First, my mother is in a bed and board twenty-five minutes from the house. I visit her once or twice a week. When I do, I have to follow strict Covid rules including maintaining a safe distance from her and having both a face mask and shield in place. Though the dementia keeps the threat of the virus quite far removed from her on an emotional level, it still manages to create some ripples in the water on a physical level. Because they have to follow state guidelines in these facilities to the letter, the residents, or inmates as I prefer to call them, are unable to eat together in this facility as they don’t have a large enough space to accommodate them if seated the required six feet apart. This lack of socialization is exacting a toll on them in the same way children are experiencing isolation symptoms by being virtually schooled without benefit of classmates. Also a difficult wrinkle, I cannot hug her. This is something we were used to doing, and used to doing often. To add another nail to the board (sorry, the word coffin gives me goosies) she can’t go out with me for our weekly lunch and hairdresser appointments thus shrinking her world to an even tighter fit. Truly she amazes me. She breezed through Covid with the other residents, with only one of them, the only male, showing any significant symptoms. Even he, has returned from the hospital and is on the mend. Wow.

Dementia patients display all manner of symptoms as their confusion deepens. In Mother’s case, she has developed a fascination for Kleenex. Her enjoyment of the product is to such an extent, the manufacturer sent us a holiday card saying, “Thank you for your patronage. Your family’s support has managed to allow our company to remain afloat during these trying times.” You’re welcome. How one small woman can manage the tissue consumption she does, almost defies comprehension. If I didn’t know it not to be true, I would believe she is either consuming the sheets or running a black market Internet tissue site on the side. Not only does she put the tissues to the obvious use, but she also stores them in drawers, crevices and pockets, folds them, and generally just loves the stuff. Puzzled about such strange behavior, I looked this up and was surprised to find it not unusual for someone with dementia to have tissue issues (if you will). Some sufferers prefer paper towels, and many like to fold and refold dish towels or simply enjoy manipulating pieces of paper. According to my reading, some of this bizarre repetitive behavior may be attributed to boredom. Makes perfect sense to me. Mother has always been a very active person. A “doer” one might say of her. For her it must be absolute torture to be trapped in a wheel chair as well as being limited to the walls of the house she lives in. Her thinking may be a little askew these days, but I’m sure she still has well defined feelings going on inside. Poor Mama. It is terribly difficult to watch your parents lose their independence. While visiting I discussed my concerns about the boredom with her caregiver. Surely, there has to be a way to stimulate these shut ins? From what I looked up, games, music, reading to them, anything is better than sitting in a chair waiting for the grass to grow. Soooooo, we’re going to embark on some new ideas, imbue a little fresh blood such as I suggested in the paragraph above about Washington D.C. Sometimes when you have cooked the same recipe over and over it helps to have a new chef taste it add a new spice or two to liven things up. I even suggested music or dancing. This suggestion immediately got a negative response. “Why not”, I asked? They may have a few wires crossed but are not incapable of understanding simple concepts. Dancing, or so I’ve read, and music, are good for the mind and soul. I looked at my mother and raised my arms over my head. She watched me curiously for a moment, then put her arms up over her head. “That’s the spirit, Mama”, I thought! I moved my arms from side to side, then wiggled my fingers back and forth next adding a little foot tapping for emphasis. Quickly she got the idea and before long we were dancing. Perhaps Fred and Ginger weren’t turning over in their graves, but at least we were bustin’ a few moves as my grandson might say. Hah. So, keeping her interested and engaged is high on my to-do list for 2021.

The second dilemma concerns returning gifts to the stores. I’m feeling blessed this year my friends and loved ones gave me some lovely gifts, but a few have to be returned due to size issues. According to gift receipts included, these exchanges must be done in-store. In a normal year I’d just go to the store, get in line, and return them. This year I’m not sure that’s the plan I want to follow. Even though I’ve already had the virus, they really don’t know if that insures you can’t be reinfected. With the vaccine out there tantalizingly near I don’t want to take the chance of getting sick again before I have access to it. Not exactly a weighty problem, however, one I’m mulling over in my head this morning.

As we step hesitantly into this upcoming year I carry in my backpack a bag of hope. Hope for a rainy season to soak the ground and keep the fires at bay. Hope the vaccination is received by enough citizens to establish herd immunity and keep this damnable virus as bay allowing us to get back to a semblance of normal. Hope that this new administration helps to heal the wounds this country has sustained, and hope that people will come together once again in spite of their differences and work for the good of the whole.

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My heart goes out to those overworked healthcare care workers practically begging us not to travel to friends and family over the holidays. Good news, all but 84 million of us paid attention to the warnings. Sigh. We really can’t deny ourselves. Even with the vaccine on it’s way to relieve some of the stress the virus has placed on our country, people will do what people want to do.

Aside from all the Covid saturating the news, the less than peaceful transition of power looms heavy in the headlines. For those of you who have ever ridden a jet ski and fallen off, that’s what the end of this year with our government feels like to me. No rider at the controls and everybody going around in circles. “Jet ski”, you say? A jet ski, is essentially a water motorcycle. Not all, but some, manufacturers have a built in function wherein if the driver falls off while the jet ski is in the water the vehicle will turn to the right and circle so the rider can swim to retrieve it. Just so you know.

Speaking for myself, I’m starting to believe we should do a clean sweep in Washington and start from scratch when it comes to our legislators. Some of these old dogs need to be moved out to allow room for some new blood and fresh ideas to take their place. The government, like my house after my taking a month off to recover from the virus, is in need a serious deep cleaning.

I am steadily regaining my pre-Covid stamina and my brain fog seems to be lifting. Always I have been a being of high energy and having lost that for a while was disconcerting. I seem to find myself in the kitchen a lot these days. After Rick passed, hard to believe it was two and a half years ago, I lost interest in cooking. However, my enthusiasm has been rekindled since finding myself restricted the house for so long during 2020. My size 2 pants gathering dust in my closet, will testify to the fact I haven’t been missing any meals of late.

Too many people out there are struggling this holiday season. I feel immensely grateful to be here celebrating the passing of another year and to have leftovers in my refrigerator from my Christmas dinner, and a roof above my head to keep the rain off.

Over my lifetime like most people, I have experienced times of peaks and times of valleys. At the time they felt more like insurmountable peaks and bottomless crevices than blips in the road. Always though, when it was darkest, the clouds parted allowing shards of sunlight to shine through. This year has definitely been a deep dip on the chart, but I hold on to the knowledge at some point somewhere down the road life will be bright again. Spring with all its glorious rebirth and rejuvenation has always followed a brutally cold winter.

Someone asked me the other day why there has to be so much human suffering. Why anyone might suppose I hold the key to this door I can’t imagine. The answer, or one I’ve heard proposed often, is without suffering how would we recognize bliss? Yin and yang. Balance in all things in nature. I try not to stay too long on that train of thought, because once I hop on board, I find it difficult to see a destination in sight. There are so many unanswered questions in this world. I would hazard a guess after populating this planet for hundreds of years the things we don’t know still vastly outweigh what we do. If you wade too deeply into this pool, you will end up under water. There is no Alex Trabeck standing by the board to reveal the answer once you have posed the question. Sadly, there is no Alex Trabeck in the picture at all, at least in his physical being. I shall miss him.

There are many questions I would ask at the end of this eventful year. For example, why are our highest elected officials (and I emphasize the word elected here- serving at the will if the people) out on the golf course whining about their lot in life while so many citizens across the country are going to bed hungry? I liken it to while watching your house burn to the ground while you draw your 9 iron out of your bag and hit it to the green. Lack of understanding as to why you put in a place of high authority in the first place. Basically, to PROTECT and SERVE, and this does not mean yourself. Nero had nothing on these folks with his fiddling while Rome incinerated. At least he was crazy, although that piece of the puzzle may fit in some instances in this puzzle as well. It does seem a bit like the world has gone mad. I’m just saying.

We managed to pull Christmas out of the hat at our house in spite of the many roadblocks. One after one, all the splinter groups in our family checked in virtually. We shared present opening and some much needed laughs. Though unspoken, I think all of us were missing being able to reach out to one another for a hug or two, but at least we were as to together as the situation safely allowed. I pared down my usual prime rib to filet mignon served with sautéed mushrooms, twice baked potatoes, hercot verts and cheddar and apple pie for dessert. It was delish, if I do say so myself, and apparently I just did. So many families were facing an empty chair at their holiday tables, so I will be thankful again and again all my faces were accounted for.

One thing of note about these trying times I have noticed, has been the kindness and generosity people have extended to one another. Even on a personal level, I have seen this over and over and heard similar stories from friends and loved ones of simple acts of kindness. It is heartwarming. Truly, or sadly depending on your point of view, we humans are at our best when at our worst.

I hope your Christmas was a success. One more week and we can put 2020 officially to bed, yay. That, is definitely a reason to break out the fireworks!!

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I have spent the last week watching the balance on my credit card go up as I frantically searched for items for those on my Christmas list. Each year I tell myself I’m going to stop doing this and simply put up my tree, pour a glass of eggnog, and send everybody a card with a small enclosure. This year in particular between recovering from Covid, being unable to go into stores to shop, and the general mess our world is in this would have been a completely understandable approach to take to the season. But did I do this? Nooooo. Instead I made myself crazy trying to think of just the right gift, ordered it on line, and prayed it would either get here or to whoever I sent it to in time for Santa’s big day. Why? Because I love to do it. Perhaps I was an elf in a former life? Wrapping presents with A Miracle on 34th Street playing on the TV is one of my favorite ways to wile away a winter afternoon. A steaming cup of cocoa with the lights glimmering on the tree makes everything feel safe and oh so festive.

I haven’t felt too safe of late. Maybe that’s why I rescued the holidays this year. It’s like, let’s salvage something out of 2020, lest we just have to discard the entire year as a bust and move on. Yesterday, I took my first trip outside of the house since I got a positive result on my virus test the first of November. Oddly, or perhaps not, I found it a little unsettling. For those of you who aren’t working or haven’t been regularly going out to run errands etc., you might well understand this feeling. Suddenly it felt like our world has taken on a bit of a sinister tinge with everything I touched or everyone I came in contact with a possible donor for “the bug”. Most likely, having had it, I have developed a temporary immunity. This would be the side blessing to the miserable symptoms the virus brings along in it’s bag of tricks. According to three different medical professionals I have talked to since receiving yet a second positive test two weeks ago, I am no longer contagious. That being said, my vet, my allergist, and several others have opted out of enjoying the pleasure of my company at several recent appointments after being informed of these results. Hmmmm. To be sure I wore a mask, donned a suit of armor, immersed myself in a vat of Lysol and went in and out of a UPS store without standing near to or touching anything with the inclusion of using my own pen to fill out the requested forms.

While standing on one of the now familiar social distancing spots instructing patrons to “Stand Here” in UPS, a lady bustled through the door with a 33 gallon trash bag full of boxes. Without so much as a glance to the line of people waiting their turn, she marched up to the counter and dumped everything out in front of the clerk waiting on the customer before me. The clerk, a really wearied looking woman who most probably was telling herself she wasn’t getting paid nearly enough to do what she was doing, starting checking in this ladies packages. People behind me started to murmur among themselves. Oblivious apparently, this woman continued to fill out paperwork for the at least fifteen boxes she took out what seemed like a bottomless bag of goodies. Really? I was digging deep to locate my holiday spirit and trying so hard to be a pleasant human being. Life is so stressful lately, was it really worth it to add to the ugliness already floating around in the air? Possibly. I asked the clerk politely, “Do you take appointments?”. The clerk looked at me as though she could happily shove all this ladies boxes on the ground, grab her coat, and head home for a glass, or possibly an entire bottle, of wine, but said, “no, why”? I said I just wondered because the woman she was waiting on just walked in front of everyone else who had been waiting patiently in line as though she had scheduled a time to be waited on. It got very quiet. The lady with the packages shot me a look that did not convey “happy holidays”. Sorry. Sometimes you have to speak up for what is right. After the brief silence, the customers behind me clapped. You’re welcome.

Being quiet in the face of injustice, somehow to my mind makes you complicit. Whether you speaking up creates change in the outcome, in a way becomes irrelevant. More, it is the willingness to stand up for what you believe in and speak your peace in spite of loud objections from those of a different opinion. Over the past few weeks I have watched our country sink into the quicksand and it makes my heart sad. Where are the idealists these days, or have people just sold out to fill their pocketbooks or stoke their egos? Someone on Facebook commented the other day masks were for sheep, and wearing a mask compromises your immune system. There is so much garbage floating around on the information highway, it is hard to know what direction to follow. It is unbelievable to me these small face coverings, a minor inconvenience at best, have created such a furor in our citizens. As I’ve said before, if I thought it would save one person from being sick, or worse yet dying, I would wear a mask every day.

A vaccine, or several viable possibles, are on the way. This poses a new dilemma. Will people take the vaccine? In order to stop this virus from continuing to demonize our lives, I heard something like 80% of the population need to surrender their arms and get the shot. I told someone the other day I would be first in line and was surprised when she responded “I can’t believe you’re going to take that Kool Aid. Why would you”? I struggle to understand this thinking, while at the same time trying to wrap myself around the ideology I am not always right. What? I know. To me it is like having a flat tire in a remote area. You have a jack in the trunk but have never used one. Though not really familiar with the workings of the jack, you could take a chance on using it and putting on the spare and getting out of there, or you could sit there until a bear comes along and makes you his afternoon snack. Perhaps not the best analogy, but you get the idea…..hopefully. If obtuse was a lifestyle, I would be living the life.

My asthma is a condition that makes it even less desirable to invite Covid-19 into my body. I never had asthma until fifteen years ago, going through most of my adult life without it. Twice I have been hospitalized for it, but thankfully these days it is pretty well controlled with daily steroid regimens and occasional Nebulizer treatments. There are many people out there are dealing with so much more, so I shall never complain about having to handle this.

To add to the mix, people are about to run out of government funded programs to help see them through this epidemic. Congress, is perched on the precipice of going home for the holidays with no stimulus bill in sight. How does that work? Basically, legislators work for the people last I heard. So, you just break for a week or three and leave everybody without food on the table or any relief from possible eviction? Well, they have food, and health care, and a roof over their heads. That’s like owning a business such as a restaurant. You have placed a massive food order for the expected holiday diners and your entire wait and kitchen staff takes off their aprons and heads home leaving you to fend for yourself. Unbelievable that they could not reach a compromise on some kind of help before shutting off the lights and going home. Perhaps they still will. I will choose the high road and leave the light on for them.

So, that is my rant for today. Hope this finds you well and looking forward to the holidays. Talk soon.

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Have any of you been following the news story about the mysterious monolith found by helicopter pilots in a remote area of the Utah desert? On a mission to count bighorn sheep, the pilots spotted a tall metal structure buried in the ground. Curious, they landed to investigate the strange sighting. The monolith looked exactly like the one the chimpanzees found in 2001 Space Odyssey. Such a weird movie that one. I saw it on my first honeymoon at a theater in downtown San Francisco. My new husband loved the film, where I found it odd and more than a bit disturbing. This recent story seems to lean closer to my line of thinking, for as strangely as the unusual structure appeared, it has now vanished with no explanation offered. To add teeth to this mystery, the same day the monolith disappeared in the Utah desert, another monolith appeared out of nowhere in Romania. Wow. Good stuff here. Nobody loves an unexplained alien story better than me, or any good story for that matter.

I’ve mentioned many times I am an avid reader. Truth be known I have carried on somewhat of a love affair with words most of my life. The original seed, I believe, was planted by my maternal grandparents who provided my overly active young mind with a library of books to keep me out of trouble. I can remember climbing through the looking glass with Alice, sneaking into Mr. McGregor’s garden with Peter Rabbit and spending days on the farm with Honeybunch. Long winters in Nova Scotia lent themselves nicely to lying by the fire, book in hand, and going off on adventures in faraway lands or unraveling puzzling mysteries, For me, having a book to read is sort of an extension of my own life, an added dimension if you will. Books offer up a window into another person’s imagination often not available by simply engaging in conversation with them. I know when I write I share pieces of me with my reading audience I might not otherwise lay out on the table.

Sci-fi has never really been my bag. The only science fiction writer, more horror really with an occasional sci-fi flair, would be Stephen King. If I could write like him, well, I’d be rich and famous just like him now wouldn’t I? I’d be living in a big house in Maine and married to Tabitha. I always thought it was so serendipitous he married a woman named Tabitha (for those of you old enough to have tuned in Bewitch, you will understand the reference here). What a story teller King is. I think a lot of readers discount his writings because of the genre, but his stories, in particular The Stand, are compelling in so many ways far beyond the horror aspects of the plot lines. Carrie was his first novel, followed by Salem’s Lot, one of my favorites. I can remember reading the latter on the subway going into work in Boston. I got so engrossed in the story line, by the time I looked up I had gone three stops past where I needed to get off. Stepping off into the snow coered station I found myself at the Harvard for the first time since I’d moved to the state. I never got back there again in the next three years before returning to California, so I always credit Salem’s Lot with allowing me the chance to see the beautiful campus before I left.

For all we know, aliens walk among us. If you’ve ever watched some of those National Geographic specials featuring “deep sea creatures” you have to wonder if some if those odd looking beings didn’t fly in on the mother craft. So peculiar. Well, let’s face it some of the African animals like giraffes or anteaters could easily fill in as extras in Star Wars. Aliens, I would suppose, could be totally different life forms then what we expect to see. They could be gaseous clouds, miniscule parasites, or even plants. For all I know, the poinsettia innocently sitting in the pot on the living room table could be an alien life form left here to spy on it’s human host.

It will be interesting to follow the monoliths. Most assuredly this is a human occurrence, not little green men going about the planet toying with our minds. However, there are so many unexplained “alien” sightings over the years makes you wonder what really is floating around out there. Look at the space men painted on caves by early man. Without ever seeing another group of humans in another part of the world how was it they all captured similar images? Then there is runway in Peru? I could go on and on, I often do. Anyhow, a little alien to think about today rather than the virus, the economy, the fact I haven’t done any Christmas shopping yet, and let’s not forget the transition of power in D.C. Sigh. Let’s go back to the aliens.

It’s intriguing the idea of other beings. The missing pieces about such other-wordly travelers, however, could turn out to be a little unsettling. It isn’t written anywhere they would necessarily be friendly visitors. Maybe, like in War of the Worlds, the aliens might want to inhabit our planet, and would expect us to give our 30 day notice. Also, who knows what bacteria or general space cooties beings from other galaxies might carry? I guarantee generating an effective vaccine for an alien virus might be challenging.

On the subject of vaccines, I guess several vaccines have been approved or are near the approval stage for Covid-19. Thank God. I had my second Covid test yesterday to confirm I am virus free. Hopefully, I will get the results in several days. Being an over achiever, I have gone and gotten a secondary infection in my sinuses. This now will require two weeks on antibiotics. My friend was dismayed I had to take another regimen of medicine. I look at it a little differently, I am thankful we have such amazing drugs to take. Don’t misunderstand me, I am a terrible patient. I avoid adding any new pill to my daily regimen at all costs, but if there is one specifically aimed at improving my day to day life and returning to me to good health, well bring it on.

I hope this finds you safe and well. As I said in my last blog keep vigilant, this virus is rough and tough.

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