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Posts Tagged ‘isolation’

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With the self-isolating continuing here in California those of us not on the front lines in essential businesses continue to spend most of our time at home. I have noticed I am getting a little loosey goosey in my attire of late as are many of my neighbors. This morning I noticed my neighbor across the street putting his trash out in his boxer shorts. When he became aware of me also dragging my bin to the curb, rather than hiding behind his trash can or looking embarrassed, he waved and struck up a conversation. Hello? The other day I was out front watering when I noticed my neighbor on the right coming around from her back yard. Normally the woman is well put together, but that day she was wearing purple yoga pants with an oversized lime green tee shirt and flip flops with a strap flapping that had seen better days. When I waved hello she covered her mouth, but not before I noticed she had neglected to put her teeth in. No judgment here, Samantha. I get it, I really do.

As I said, I’m not doing much better. There’s something freeing about knowing no one is coming to visit and you’re not going anywhere yourself. I have adopted this “manana” attitude. If my hair has begun to part like the red sea in the back or stick up like a cockatoo on the top, I can convince myself it has at least another day or two of wear before I need to dust off the shampoo bottle under the bathroom sink and put things back in order. Yesterday I caught my reflection in the mirror and I have to say it wasn’t pretty. Now it is just the cat and I sharing space, and though the cat is content as long as there is kibble in her bowl and a treat or two forthcoming, one does have her pride. There I stood with my naked face, hair askew, in pink socks with green watermelon slices on them, gray jogging shorts with a notable bleach spot center front, and a tee shirt with “In Dog Years I’m Dead” emblazoned across the front given to me on my fiftieth birthday. Should I fall and hit my head, is this really the way I want to be found? Since I am dressed exactly the same way this morning, I believe the answer here is “works for me”.

My hair dresser sent me a text yesterday, the salon is closed for at least another three weeks and then the reopening date is uncertain. Apparently they are researching doing hair outside. Now that I find interesting. Ladies with hair dye slapped on their roots or wrapped in tin foil seated out in the parking lot waving at passing cars. It is an image I may have to learn to embrace.

In an effort to keep my mind occupied I looked for a movie to rent last night. Seems all my favorite TV shows have been cancelled so I was looking for something exciting to watch. The first ON DEMAND movie I looked at was $20.00 to rent. Whoa. What happened to the $5.99 movies I thought were kind of pricey? Does somebody show up at the door for the $20 selection with a tub of popcorn, a jumbo box of Junior Mints and a large Pepsi? Reminds me of going to sports arenas. Rick and I went on our first date to a Sharks game in San Jose. Sharks, for those of you less than enthusiastic about sports, are the hockey team for that area. Growing up in Nova Scotia hockey is a game I have some familiarity with so I was looking forward to going. The Sharks were playing the Canucks, a team out of Vancouver, so I got to root for my homboys. Yay. On our way in we stopped at one of the concession stands to get something to eat to take to our seats. Two hot dogs and two beers came to nearly $30. No wonder they can pay players these off the charts salaries. Whew. I’m going to buy up all the hot dogs at Costco and stand outside the stadium and sell them for half price, say $4, and still make a tidy profit.

So, TV not exciting, house cleaner than it’s ever been, hair put off until a week from next Tuesday I turned my attention to my creative side. My daughter and I are working on a book series together. She writes in this case, and I’m providing the illustrations. We have just completed the first book and are beginning to work on the second. These are children’s books with a recurring theme presented with different characters and scenarios. When we get the first one published I will share for those of you who are interested.  Art is something I’ve put on the back burner for a while. With Rick being sick for several years there wasn’t really the opportunity to do much on the side nor the inclination. Nearly two years has passed since he died, and I find myself beginning to reopen again and the pricklings of interest in everything I love returning to my nerve ends.

Someone asked the other day, “Why do you write?”  I answered, “I write because the stories bubble up in my head, and I need to get them out.” Sounds kind of sophomoric but that is why I write. If no one read what I wrote, it might be less gratifying, but I know I would write nonetheless. I am compelled to for whatever reason and have been since I was young. Always growing up I had a diary or a journal. My meanderings were far more childlike and probably (or hopefully) sillier than what I write now, but I can remember reaching for my diary every night before turning out the light. Kids these days, I don’t suppose have diaries anymore. Guess I am an old dog who enjoys holding the book in my hand and turning the pages. I say that, but here I am tapping away at this blog on my laptop. Hah. Do as I say, not as I do.

Luckily I am a human to whom being solitary is not a death sentence. I can be alone with myself for some time before needing either some company or something to occupy my time. Thankfully, I have any number of hobbies I enjoy which helps to keep my mind engaged as well as my body. Exercising, aside from walking which I do every day, is now part of my daily routine. I’m not a fan. Always I have hated going to the gym. In my twenties I went three times a week. You could have bounced a quarter off my abs. These days if you put a quarter on my tummy you’d have to send a team in after it. This is not true actually. I am rather a thin being, but I haven’t done a crunch or a sit up since Reagan was in office. Recently this situation has changed because currently I am going to physical therapy for my spine. Apparently, along with the other aging body ailments, my bones are getting a little less dense. This has caused a lower back situation which requires some strengthening of my “core”. My PT, Dan, is a young man I would guess to be about thirty, with bounding enthusiasm for his job and endless ideas of ways to torture one’s body. Good Lord. Yesterday he slapped weights on my ankles and then had me lie in a variety of contortionist positions while moving my legs in unnatural positions. I asked him if he enjoyed inflicting pain on his victims, to which he replied, “I don’t hate it”. Sadist.

I have also been doing some meditating and reading some uplifting spiritual books. Helps me keep my well-being at a maintainable level.

So, today I have work on my schedule which is a good thing. Keeps me off the streets and in my watermelon socks. Have a good one. Hold the good thoughts and dance with the cat if you must. Talk soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am tired. Tired of complaining, hearing people complain, complaining about people who are complaining and generally just tired of the whole mess. How about you? This has been a weird and unpredictable couple of weeks even for my life which in a normal world often veers off to the right. Sigh.

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To begin with the microwave died. This truly is not a life shattering experience but with everything upside down in the world, it is an added irritation. So programmed am I to warm up a cup of cold coffee or reheat something for lunch, I find myself opening the microwave door and inserting something inside every five minutes before remembering the damn thing doesn’t work. The nice thing about renting rather than owning your house, is that when something breaks down the phone call you make is to the landlord. You don’t have to go through all the rigamarole of finding a repairman or going to the store and getting a new appliance. I rather like that. For years Rick and I watched as our vacation money flew out the door to replace a broken water heater or the money put aside for a special dinner went instead toward purchasing a replacement for a broken dishwasher. There is a downside to renting as well, of course. I do miss being able to paint a wall chartreuse if the spirit moves me, or on a whim adopting a litter of Great Danes without having to ask permission. Other than that, I rather enjoy the freedom of not having to worry about when the other shoe is going to drop when it comes to house repairs. These days I will take a win wherever I can find it.

The landlord said the earliest she could get a repairman to replace the microwave would be mid-August. I’m not surprised. She was kind enough, however, to offer me a loaner microwave, a countertop model rather than one suspended over the stove such as I have now. This is better than no microwave for sure. However, my kitchen is a two-butt kitchen. Even with only two people operating in it at the same time, cheek to cheek contact is definitely a risk you take. Perhaps I can put it in the spare bathroom though cooking food next to the toilet doesn’t really seem like the most desirable of plans.

The lawn is also included in the obscene amount of rent I dole out every thirty days. I’m thankful for that as well. I neither have a lawn mower nor the desire to push one around so am happy to have someone checking both boxes. Recently they hired a new team to manage the landscaping. They swoop down like vultures on road kill, machines whirring, grass flying, and are in and out before you can say lawn genocide. What they do to the lawns in that short of a period of a time is mind blowing. How you mow a lawn leaving huge patches of long grass next to nearly shaved areas defies understanding. Once I asked them if they could take care of the weeds on the side of the house. They took the weed whacker and leveled everything but the house itself including all the viable plants minding their own business in that bed. Looked like locust had passed through. Personally I believe there was a method to their madness. I never asked them to whack the weeds again.

I also pay “cat rent”. Amazing. This is a relatively new gimmick for landlords to extract that last ounce of blood out of their tenants. Boo hasn’t worked in years, so this falls to me to take care of. I’ve gently suggested there are mice to be chased and lizards to be tailed but she remains steadfast in her desire to simply perch on her queen’s pillow and wait for me to serve her.

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To add to the mix, I got my “bundle bill” as I call it, day before yesterday. Its where your service provider bundles all your electronic needs into a nice little package that fluctuates more than the stock market when changes in interest rates are announced.  I’ve been in this house a year and I signed up for a year contract. Now if you are waiting for the provider, in this case the television service, to notify you your year is up you will be sadly disappointed. It is up to you to monitor the last day your “discounts” awarded when they initially sucked you in will no longer be in place. Mine had just expired. My bill went up from $187 to a little under $300 for last month. Ach. On the same day the bill arrived, two fresh faced young people knocked at my door suggesting they could lower my bill significantly and offer me another cable provider along with several tantalizing perks while keeping the same Internet and land line provider. Hmmmmm. They showed me their badges, called the office to confirm they worked there, and offered me a worm I could not seem to pass up. Now I know better. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. This was Rick’s adage and he applied it to almost everything. That being said I plowed forward all pistons firing. After contracts were signed and deals cut the two porch pirates left with a promise to call me once the new system was installed to make sure everything went smoothly. Okie.

The installer arrived as promised. He removed the old equipment and began the process of setting up the new system. First, he had to drill a hole in the bedroom ceiling in order to get the cable to the second TV. OK. A long dark cable now hangs down behind the dresser. Not pretty, but I can live with it. Then he told me there was an extra charge for hooking up the Internet to the TV which was supposed to be thrown in for free. I finally convinced him, after showing him my contract, this was to be included. Reluctantly we got that going. Then I was offered free HBO for a year and Cinemax for $10/mo. Doable. The sales duo also convinced me all the channels on the less expensive package included the channels I said I enjoyed. I know I was there during this conversation but obviously not paying attention. One up and running every channel we clicked on said “you are not authorized to watch this channel”. Basicially, we determined our options were the knitting channel and the news. Hmmmm. Also, HBO and Cinemax were not activated. The installer indicated this was not his problem. Of course not. This would require a phone call on my part. First, I tried called the salesperson’s contact number as instructed. Straight to voicemail. Naturally. Next I went to the customer service number provided and got dumped into the loop at the call center. Not only could I not understand the representative I got on the phone but it sounded like she was answering in a wind tunnel. Turns out it would take three days to activate the pay channels and surprise, surprise if I wanted the channels I usually watch there would be an additional charge. I felt the hook sinking deeper into my lip. I asked to speak to a supervisor. I was told she could make me an appointment.

Sooooo, I was now in for less money than the $300/month but more money then the original contract. I decided to call back. This time after circling the endless loop of questions and rerouting I got a young man who tried, I believe, to help. He offered me the pay channels free for three months but said there was no way HBO could be given to me free for a year. I said I had a contract. Apparently that held about as much weight as single layer toilet paper. Good Lord. I asked to speak to a supervisor. He said he would call me back with a direct number for me to call. Right. Um, that never happened. Now I was getting really frustrated, and the hair on the back of my neck was beginning to stand in place so you could add mad to the pot. Once again I called and miracle of miracles I got someone in Idaho who actually could help me. First, she told me these reps probably were third party reps (turned out they were not but actually employees like her) and that they basically said a lot of things they couldn’t follow through on. In the end I got stuck with paying extra, no HBO for a year but rather three months, and they did throw in faster internet speed as a bonus for my trouble. After all this the original little girl at the door called to say she was going to straighten everything out. Why? Why me?

Sometimes I think I’ve learned all my lessons but find lessons keep showing up, sometimes on a daily basis. I guess for today I’ll just be thankful I have a TV and a house to watch it in. I’ll be thankful I am well for today and have friends and loved ones in the same condition. I will wish you good health and a safe route through all this maze of uncertainty in the future. Finally I will take this lesson to heart and remember to never sign anything without thoroughly investigating it. I can see Rick shaking his head and wish he was here to handle these things the way he used to be.

Bye for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Another week in isolation. Sigh. After hearing on the news that a woman in Texas sat in line for eighteen hours waiting for food from a food pantry I made a promise not to complain. Although my pantry staples such as paper towels etc. are dwindling I haven’t missed a meal as yet (as my scales will corroborate) so feel I had best keep my mouth shut for more reasons than one. Everyone seems to be having trouble locating paper products I’m hearing. I finally located Kleenex for my mother I believe from a website in China. I’m not kidding. It took two and a half weeks to arrive and I could have furnished my living room and had change left over for what I had to pay for it. My son, Steve, called yesterday while in Costco. Apparently he scored Kleenex but still can find no toilet paper. With a house full of teens at his location this situation is bordering on critical. Teens tend to undervalue the products they are provided I have found. One roll of paper towels could be called into service to clean up a few drops of milk off a counter.  From first grade until high school Steve played soccer. Being a working mom I wasn’t always home when he got back from practice. Team members were given carte blanche by my offspring to pillage our cupboards for snacks and juice. My grocery bill began to rival the national debt until I finally realized where the leak was occurring and put a plug in it.

One thing I am definitely noticing about me these days is a sort of general malaise. Since I seem to have all the time in the world to get things done I have adopted an “I’ll do it tomorrow” attitude which for a steady doer such as myself is a tad unsettling.  Yesterday I realized I hadn’t hopped in the shower for three days. The fact that that the cat, usually joined at the hip with me, had begun maintaining social distancing alerted me I’d better remedy the situation.

Though I may be sitting in my dining room, in my mind I am in Hawaii. Images of pristine beaches lined with elegant palm trees and caressed by glistening azure waters keep filling my thoughts. Though I could not live in Hawaii, I love visiting. Over the years I’ve been to the islands four times.  As much as I appreciate the glorious landscapes, resplendent flowers, and friendly inhabitants the thought to me of being confined to an island space with the only avenue of escape being an airplane triggers my claustrophobia. However, spending a few weeks there enjoying what the islands have to offer is definitely always a plan I could embrace.

I was twenty-two when I first landed in Hawaii. My husband at the time, the father of my children, had won a week on Oahu through a local condominium development drawing. The trip included a seven day stay at a Waikiki hotel one block from the beach, a one day Jeep rental, and show tickets to see Don Ho. When you travel, even if the accommodations are free, expenses such as food and entertainment need to be accounted for. Our budget at the time with two toddlers had room for an additional taco split four ways at Taco Bell on payday and not much else. Taking this into consideration, we decided to bring food with us. We borrowed an extra large suitcase from a family member. One of our wedding gifts had been a Farberware indoor grill which had never been taken out of the box. The grill filled half of the extra luggage with the additional space taken up by hot dog buns, bread, peanut butter and jelly, condiments, beverages and snacks.

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Stepping off the plane in Honolulu we were greeted by natives bearing lei’s and a whoosh of hot humid air capable of sucking the breath from your lungs. Next our pictures were taken, which would be pitched to us later at our hotel for a substantial price. Once our bags were collected, a hotel shuttle driver loaded them in the back of his mini-van and we were whisked off with other hotel goers down the main drag while being treated to a brief tour. “Pearl Harbor is coming up on your right, ladies and gentlemen. To your left we are passing the Dole Pineapple Factory. Tours run daily.” Check and check.  Traveling as you mature is more about seeing historical sites and local attractions but at that age it was more about “where’s the beach and the mai tai’s”?

Though I missed my little ones at home with their grandma there was something decadent about having a little time for just us. Both my children had come into the world before my twenty-second birthday so in many ways I was still a kid myself.  Waikiki did not disappoint. Our hotel, located at the very end of Kalakaua Avenue, offered an uninterrupted view of Diamondhead from the small balcony patio. My parents had gifted us a little spending money when they dropped us off at the airport which we planned to use on one night of fine dining and drinks by the pool. A reservation had been made at the concierge desk on the way up to our room for dinner out and a Jeep later in the week. All was good in the world.

The first several days we lazed on the gorgeous shoreline taking turns slapping suntan lotion on our browning bodies and washing it off again in the crystal blue Pacific. Each day around noon the sky would cloud over and a brief sprinkling of warm rain would begin to fall. At first we got up when the rain began, but after realizing locals remained in place until it passed we followed suit. Obviously the rainfall had everything to do with the incredible lush surroundings we were enjoying so let it rain, I say, let it rain. If heaven truly does exist on earth Hawaii must be included somewhere in the square footage. At night we would walk to a hotel bar for a drink and enjoy complimentary pupus overlooking the ocean. Then back to our room to plug in our trusty grill and cook a couple of hot dogs or some of the meat and sides we’d picked up at a local market. Our fine dining night we got dressed up and ate at a lovely restaurant perched at the top of a building. The revolving floor provided diners with a panoramic view of Honolulu and the food was amazing. Lights twinkled on boats passing by and drinks with umbrellas and fresh pineapple arrived regularly at our table. A lovely experience I shall always remember.

On the third day we picked up our Jeep as ordered. Immediately obvious was that the vehicle had neither doors nor a top. With the sky a clear blue dotted with a couple of fluffy white clouds and the temperature hovering around a glorious 80 degrees “who needed them”, said my husband. “K”, says I. The state park that was to be our final destination was, according to the concierge, about a 45 minute drive from Honolulu. On our way we were going to stop at the Byodo-In Temple. What a gorgeous spot that was. The serenity of the place passes over you like the touch of a gentle hand. Brightly colored koi populate a pond under an arched bridge as you enter the temple itself. Inside we were greeted by a Buddhist monk. Almost mythical in his demeanor the man lifted his arm only to have small brightly hued birds swoop down and perch atop his sleeve. I mentioned this to the desk clerk on our return and she said she wasn’t aware the temple was staffed. Odd. I think of that from time to time with wonder, but magic was in the air on that trip.

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Climbing back in our Jeep we headed for the far end of the island. The entrance to the park was marked by a huge pond with lily pads floating atop the water bedecked with enormous lotus blossoms in a variety of colors. Bull frogs sang their song from the marshes surrounding the pond.  Following a hiking trail we saw all manor of decadent floral displays. Lizards flitted in and out of rocky mounds and the air was alive with insects traveling from one bloom to the next. All and all a lovely way to spend the day.

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Late afternoon clouds moved in and we decided it was time to head back to the hotel.  The suspension on the Jeep was less than cushiony leaving my spinal cord feeling like it had pierced my brain every time we hit a bump in the road. The sky, now very grey, was beginning to look concerning. In particular, because there was nothing between us the air around us but, well, the air around us. Suddenly the sky opened up and a torrential onslaught of water careened down from the heavens. Never, other than when I lived in Alabama, have I seen that much rain fall in that short of a period of time. With nowhere sheltered to pull off and nowhere to hide we kept on moving for at least another 30 minutes before reaching our hotel. I managed to grab my purse around one turn before it floated out onto the highway on the tsunami building on my side of the floorboard. The hotel staff were kind enough to say nothing about the fact my shoes were bubbling as I walked across the lobby making sounds like pulling a cow’s hoof out of a mud puddle every time I took a step.

The rest of our trip passed uneventfully. On our last night in Honolulu after reviewing our meager cash supply we decided to walk down to a McDonald’s we had passed earlier in the day. On our way a gentlemen in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt standing outside of Don the Beachcomber’s stopped us asking if we’d had dinner. Nodding no in unison side to side he asked if we’d be interested in watching a presentation about condos for sale on the mainland in exchange for dinner and a show. Our heads were once again nodding together this time up and down. Don’t know if you could purchase a condo for $7 and change even in those days, but we were open to listening their pitch, especially with a meal involved. Dinner was a delicious buffet followed afterwards by an excellent show featuring Hawaiian dancers. What a great way to end our time there. Condos in and condos out.

So, aloha for now. I shall lean back in my beach chair and point my face towards the sun and dream of porpoises and sea turtles and something rummy and cold.

 

 

 

 

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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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