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While we were looking for a house to buy, a one-level-not-so-big house, the pandemic happened. Our priorities shifted. We cherished our group of neighbors, we exchanged books and bread. On occasional Fridays, we’d meet in someone’s carport for cocktails. Bob and I hosted a gathering in our garden under a tulip magnolia. We all stayed 10 ft apart and brought our own drinks.

Gradually, the Bride and Groom’s doctor pod became our pod.

The Grands attended virtual school with another medical family, sharing a nanny who filmed a music video with a “cool nana.” We had TWO pods! Our family plus pod meant we could hang out OUTSIDE with them; our traveling historic neighborhood pod continued to meet outside. Then vaccines happened, we invited the doubly vaccinated outside pod INSIDE! Bob and I started on the hunt for horizontal living once again.

It turns out our little neighborhood happens to have a co-housing development just a few blocks away. Over the last few years, we’ve gotten to know some of the residents – it’s a fun, diverse group of all ages. Buying a condo in their unit would mean committing to a communal dinner every now and then, among some other responsibilities. I mean, this was right up Bob’s alley! And their condos were affordable too.

We were seriously thinking about purchasing a co-housing home, but the only unit available was up two flights of outside stairs.

I believe the pandemic has affected my generation in a special way. Not that we want to have separate spaces in our homes for family and the general public, like my last piece mentioned: https://mountainmornings.net/2021/10/18/home-for-a-handmaid/

No, we Boomers realize how essential our connections are, that as we age, loneliness can become debilitating. Maybe it’s easier for us to visualize a future where the Covid vaccine gets wrapped up in our yearly flu vaccine? Maybe we’re more aware of how fragile our lives have become….

Like Captain Kirk going up into space. You’re wrapped up in a beautiful blue cocoon here on earth until POP, you pierce the shell and enter total darkness. One of our good friends has also decided to pack up and move across the country to be closer to her children. Zoom calls can only do so much. My thoughts turned back to co-housing, what if we could get all our friends plus our kids to create the ideal, utopian co-housing community?

Co-housing sounds confusingly similar to co-living but has a whole different vibe. Co-housers aren’t transient. They have a much stickier idea of social affiliation, and they’re not about to rent a bedroom in some random complex. To draw even finer distinctions: Co-housing communities are not communes. Residents do not give up financial privacy any more than they give up domestic privacy. They have their own bank accounts and commute to ordinary jobs. If you were lucky enough to grow up on a friendly cul-de-sac, you’re in range of the idea, except that you don’t have to worry about your child being hit by a car as she plays in the street. A core principle of co-housing is that cars should be parked on a community’s periphery.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/22/opinion/cohousing-mothers-pandemic-community.html

You also don’t have to worry about some weird neighbor setting out bear traps on his property because he doesn’t want kids in his yard.

The author Judith Shulevitz, of the above NYTimes Opinion article, “Is This the Cure for the Loneliness of American Motherhood,” speaks to how abandoned she felt giving birth in the suburbs. Lots of cars and no sidewalks to stroll a baby. And even when she and her husband moved back to NYC, to try and find community, she realized the neighbors in their building were not very friendly. When she tried to chat someone up in the elevator, the response was, “You’re not from around here, are you?”

A co-housing community would be especially helpful for young families seeking a “shared life.” In fact, Shulevitz began looking into the 165 co-housing developments across the country; while most are semi-rural or suburban, she found a group in the East Village that is vertical. In a post-pandemic world, she feels we may be at a tipping point in the American way of life.

Lots of office buildings across the country may continue to stand empty. What if a developer were to turn them into co-housing condos? Also, if we finally pass a Build Back Better Bill, we could be on the cusp of eliminating homelessness, and/or making housing more affordable. Granted, I’m not holding my breath, our democracy is also at a tipping point. But most importantly perhaps, it’s time to build up our social network!

“The third force that could push us to change our way of life is a heightened awareness of isolation. In a 2020 survey by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, one-third of Americans described themselves as seriously lonely — up from one-fifth before the Covid pandemic. Loneliness is now understood as a public health crisis, ranking as high among risk factors for mortality as heavy smoking, drinking and obesity.”

The Flapper lived close to her Mother, my Nana, and multiple aunts. She told me once that everyone always came over to our house in Scranton after church on Sundays. Before my Father got sick, there was a big Sunday supper, and cards to be played. Co-housing – turns out it’s not such a new idea actually.

We have an open door policy around here

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When is too much of a good thing bad for you? How does passion turn into obsession?

It turns out the Pumpkin is a pretty natural soccer player. I drove him to his soccer game over the weekend and listened to everyone calling his name. He was laser focused on the ball, charging the opposite team without fear. When he scored a goal my heart leapt for joy.

I told him that I used to coach his Uncle’s soccer team when the Rocker was his age. He looked up at me incredulously… Nana coached soccer? And I remembered those bright, crisp mornings filled with orange wedges and Gatorade.

We graduated to ice hockey and the Rocker finally found a sport he loved. All I had to do was get up before dawn and drive and sit in the stands and shiver. We traveled to ice rinks all over the state of NJ lugging his equipment in a huge duffel, just about the same size as his pre-adolescent body.

But one morning he didn’t suit up for the rink. I had to wake him with the news that his Uncle Dicky had died. Bob brought the Bride into his bedroom and we explained to them both that Daddy’s brother had been sick for a long time; he had a drug addiction.

Dicky had been a sweet uncle with an infectious smile. Sometimes he would disappear for months. The hardest part was telling Ada. It was a watershed moment for us, I believe that this was our family’s cautionary tale; this was the moment our children grew up.

I’ve been thinking about Dicky since I read that drug overdoses have increased exponentially since the start of the pandemic. And not just needle-in-the-arm street heroin – plain old pain pills. Synthetic oxycodone that strangely enough, one can buy online. I read that 4 out of 10 pills can be laced with fentanyl.

“The new CDC data show that deaths at least partially attributable to synthetic opioids likely increased by around 20,000 (54%) in 2020, while deaths involving cocaine (21%) and other psychostimulants like methamphetamine (46%) also rose dramatically. In 2015, synthetic opioids were involved in only 18 percent of all overdose deaths; in 2020, it appears to be more than 60 percent.”

https://www.commonwealthfund.org/blog/2021/drug-overdose-toll-2020-and-near-term-actions-addressing-it

A record high of 93,331 synthetic and prescription drug overdose deaths competed with 345,323 Covid 19 deaths in 2020. So naturally the media follows the pandemic, and after all the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma are old news. Today it’s all about ridiculous school board mask-mandate meetings, and poor Mark Milley…

It’s misleading to cite drug overdose deaths as the ninth leading cause of death in the US. And for some odd reason, ODs are not even listed in the CDC data. So I had Bob do some digging – it turns out the number ONE cause of death for young adults 25 – 44 is overdose. More than motor vehicle accidents and homicides (of which almost 90% involve guns). I’m sure you heard that murder rates were up last year by almost 30%! https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2778234

In short, we need to change our public policy around drugs, and yes guns too. Sure a pandemic is a public health emergency, but at some point it will end, right? At some point in the future we will have ‘the talk’ about addiction with the Grands and the ties that bind our family in sorrow, love and pain. But not now. Now is the time for apple cider, shin guards and soccer balls.

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My first text of the morning was from the Bride: “Breaking News!”

BREAKING NEWS! These two words flashing across any screen used to get my heart churning, but now I just wonder what else Niki Minaj’s best friend’s cousin is up to… but wait! It’s a New York Times article – our Grands just may be vaccinated by Halloween.

“The need is urgent: Children now account for more than one in five new cases, and the highly contagious Delta variant has sent more children into hospitals and intensive care units in the past few weeks than at any other time in the pandemic. Pfizer and BioNTech plan to apply to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month for authorization to use the vaccine in these children.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/20/health/covid-children-vaccine-pfizer.html

What a joyous, rainy, overcast Monday. You see the Bride inherited her Father’s lungs, and kindly passed a little reactive airway disease down to the Pumpkin, who’s not so little anymore. As a baby, he would get rushed into a shower with croup late at night. It’s almost like having asthma; during allergy season he may need to use an inhaler. With children’s cases of Covid going up 250%, I was particularly worried about this little First Grader.

Bob and I decided to walk in our fancy, indoor mall yesterday after several days of rain. My medical consultant tells me I must keep moving after a fall, so we donned our Happy Masks and set out on an adventure. I’m just guessing, but probably less than 50% of shoppers were wearing masks. And each store had their own policy about masking hanging on their door. This is Nashville yes, but the rest of Tennessee helps keep our Covid numbers up; Tennessee is Number ONE in the nation for new Covid cases!

I keep wearing a mask indoors not because I’m afraid of getting sick. After two jabs of Moderna, I could easily not know I was infected, or be asymptomatic, and unknowingly pass the virus to a friend or loved one. I keep wearing my mask so that I can still hug my Grandchildren.

I keep wearing a mask indoors and don’t understand people walking through a mall with young children all unmasked.

I’ll keep wearing a mask indoors just as long as my daughter tells me to, along with my other medical consultant who will keep reminding me to bring a mask with me wherever we go. Bob has successfully passed his Emergency Medicine Boards this month, HOORAY!!! (docs have to re-certify every so many years). Hope reigns supreme at my city farmhouse. Maybe he’ll start doing remote medicine? Or Urgent Care? Or something medical?

Yesterday as we sat outside a cafe in the mall, Bob told me he’d been doing the math.

One out of every 200 people in this mall has Covid and doesn’t know it.”

It was not at all reassuring, but that’s why I love him. He will always tell me the truth and doesn’t mince words. He knows whether I broke a hip or not. He even does the dishes. He wants us to get booster shots soon, and our flu shots today!

I’m hopeful he’ll keep making sourdough bread and keep me laughing and walking and Covid-free for years to come. And I’m hopeful our Pumpkin and Bug and all the kids in that age range will stay safe for just another month or so.

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It was a Wednesday like any other. I was having my morning coffee and noticed the mourning dove diner atop the tree stump outside of my window was empty. One lone dove stared out into space, wondering where his breakfast might be… so I threw on a rain jacket because there was a dewy mist to the air, and headed outside with replacement seeds and nuts.

Feeding the birds has become a pleasurable pandemic habit. I love watching them squabble over position and seeing a cardinal can become the highlight of my day. Sometimes I worry that I’m becoming “That Old Lady,” but at least I’m not walking out of the house in my bedroom slippers anymore.

The fancy slip-on UGG shearling slippers contributed to the mishap last Wednesday. I was wearing them as I waltzed out to feed the city’s wildlife, since squirrels take their equal share of the dove diner. On balance, I was in great shape. Thanks to Pilates, my hips didn’t ache and my knees were less crumbly. In short, I didn’t stop before climbing stairs to wonder which foot should go first anymore. A breakthrough in our quest to age gracefully!

To say I lost my balance would be wrong.

I simply turned away from the feeder and put my right foot up on the deck’s rain-slicked step. In less than a second I landed right-side-down on the deck with my right arm extended. BOOM. I wondered if I’d broken my hip. My ankle hurt a little and I yelled for Bob, “BOB!”

Thankfully he came out to examine me and deemed me very lucky indeed. My hip was fine and he put a band-aid on my ankle. I have some road rash on my right elbow – this is how fast it happened, I never put my hand down – and a bruise on the right side of my thigh that’s about to turn all shades of purple. Mercy prevailed, as the Bride was working that Wednesday morning and I really didn’t want to be wheeled into her hospital’s ER.

My pride was hurt. Still no dog walkers saw my slipped n fell routine; even our neighbor didn’t come out of his house. It was just a hump day like every other in a pandemic. We were going to pick up the Frenchie puppy for his Nana and PopBob day camp since both doctors were working.

Would this be a good time to remind you that TN has the distinction of being number ONE in the country for new Covid cases per capita?!

The latest milestone is one of several records the state has reached in the past several weeks, stemming from a spike in cases and hospitalizations among school-aged children.

Hundreds of students throughout Tennessee have been forced to quarantine or isolate due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some schools have closed classrooms due to staffing shortages, while others have temporarily asked the state to switch to virtual learning.

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/tennessee/articles/2021-09-14/tennessee-covid-19-cases-climb-to-top-in-the-country

On Yom Kippur we Jews are supposed to do a performance review of the past year. Last night, Bob and I hiked to a flowing creek by a golf course to throw our sins away. He had warned me I may be feeling the after effects of a fall, and I did. Thank you God for not breaking my hip. Despite my sore back, I cooked the last of our garden’s eggplant beforehand and delivered some to the Grands since both doctor-parents were working again.

On Balance, I’d rather not give our un-vaccinated grandchildren a deadly virus. I’d rather not hear what the twice impeached ex-president has to say. And I promise to only wear real shoes while feeding the birds.

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Maybe it’s because I was reading about an English photographer and gardener who pivoted her lens to her own backyard as the Covid pandemic hit the UK. I love stories of resilience like this; your life is just chugging along happily and suddenly the world shuts down… Ola Maddams captured wildlife in their own element with a heat-sensing camera. I adored her incredible shots of hedgehogs and the occasional fox!

At least I think that’s why the word “hegemony” came to mind.

…the dominance of one group over another, often supported by legitimating norms and ideas. The term hegemony is today often used as shorthand to describe the relatively dominant position of a particular set of ideas and their associated tendency to become commonsensical and intuitive, thereby inhibiting the dissemination or even the articulation of alternative ideas.” 

https://www.britannica.com/topic/hegemony

My interpretation of hegemony is that a ruling class comes to power without a single gunshot. They spread their ideology through stories, propaganda and coercion until it seems normal. If the Taliban think that maintaining their control of Afghanistan will be easy, that killing anyone who may have been associated with the resistance or American interests will cement their power, they are wrong.

Our lasting legacy in a 20 year war of occupation will not be American schools and hospitals, it will most definitely not be free and fair elections. But what we have left is a new generation that knows what freedom feels like. Young people who know there is a culturally conservative way to practice Islam, but also a rational reform way of practicing their religion. Young women who feel it is their God-given right to be educated.

And what makes our departure different from every other colonizing force in the past? The internet can be smuggled under an abaya in the palm of a woman’s hand.

A neighbor in VA was from Iran. She once told me that women would cover their fancy Western clothes with a big coat when they went to a wedding. Self-called morality censors on the street would never bother them, or maybe they were paid to look the other way. Coats would come off at the wedding venue and alcohol would be served. Where there’s a will….

The Bride and Grands collected toiletries for the Islamic Center of Nashville on 9/11. The Imam told us they are expecting to help relocate around a hundred Afghan families to middle Tennessee. Bob and I took off our shoes and toured the mosque while the kids played on the soft, padded carpeting.

Everyone was so friendly. It felt good, even cleansing to do this small mitzvah on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The Hebrew word does not mean a “good deed,” it’s a bit more complicated.

The definition of mitzvah: “Mitzvah literally means “commandment.”  In fact, Jewish tradition understands exactly 613 mitzvot (plural of mitzvah) to be derived from the Hebrew Bible. The 613 are listed in Maimonides‘ Sefer Hamitzvot (Book of the Commandments), divided into “positive” (things one is required to do) and “negative” (things one may not do) commandments.”

I feel a positive charge in the Fall air, except for a certain legislator from West Virginia. Maybe Manchin is just a slow poke and he’ll see the light soon.

We gave the Love Bug a butterfly kit for her 9th birthday and she received her caterpillars last week. They’ll soon be emerging from their chrysalis to be released in their garden, joining the fuzzy bees tunneling into the outlandish, pink rose-of-sharon blooms.

Let’s hope that in the coming year all the anti-vaxxers and climate deniers, anti-semites and Islamaphobes find themselves overwhelmed by the hegemony of naturalists. By a love for the diversity of humans, animals and habitat.

Photo by Ola Maddams https://www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-58327374

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Blue is my favorite color. Blue like the ocean, or a cloudless sky; azure blue can be brutal and beautiful all at once. Twenty years ago today, September 10th, I walked out my front door in Rumson, NJ and looked up to see a Great Blue Heron glide across our garage, swooping down to the river. He looked to be a pale grey compared to that azure sky.

The garage at the time was home to my son’s band. There was a drum set in one corner, speakers, microphones, a rug and some old furniture. A big yellow street sign, “Hope Road,” was hung on one of the walls – later the American flag would cover the doorway.

I used to serve the boys in the band bagel dogs, chips and soda. We weren’t into “healthy eating” yet, I was still happy if the Rocker took time to eat a meal with us at all. I tried not to nag about finishing up his college applications, and wondered aloud if he really wanted to go… it turns out he did.

In retrospect, my worries seemed so small.

Would the Bride be safe in a basement apartment in DC? We had just helped her move on from college to her first job at the Federal Trade Commission. Her Public Policy major had prepared her for this paralegal appointment, I wondered if she would be bound for law school.

Every morning I’d send her a quick email – just to check in. I once asked her if my daily notes were too intrusive, and she said no, she just didn’t always have time to answer me. But she loved getting them; I wish I had archived all those notes. I tried to be poetic, and positive. So many words have been lost over the years.

On the bright blue morning of September 11th, I called her on the government’s office line. Something was happening, something monumental. Planes had flown into the Twin Towers and maybe the Pentagon. Daddy was heading to the marina in Highlands. Did a helicopter crash on the Mall? There was another plane missing. She and her co-workers left their federal building and walked to their homes, not wanting to use the subway.

Her birthday became a National Day of Mourning. Monmouth County NJ lost 147 souls on 9/11, including a neighbor on Buena Vista Avenue, the street where we lived. And a high school classmate of hers, and his father.

I never thought in my wildest dreams, that a group of home-grown, “misinformed,” stop/the/steal crazy conservative terrorists could ever breach the People’s House. Could accomplish in a few hours what Bin Laden spent years planning, only to be denied in the last hour of 9/11 by REAL patriots who died in a field in Pennsylvania.

And now these Domestic Terrorists are coming back? While Nashville celebrates Pride Weekend September 18-19, DC will host another… what? Rally, Protest to free the Terrorists, ie Traitors, an Insurrectionist Mob? Will they bring guns or rely on flag poles and bear spray again?

President Biden’s ultimatum yesterday to anti-vaxxers was long overdue. Hearing last night that the Justice Department has decided to sue Texas for their blatantly illegal heartbeat bill was also a welcome reprieve from the news of late. Have the Democrats finally found their footing? Can we turn our country into its purple-blue mountain majesty. Take this test to know where you stand:

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Hello Fall and candied apples! We celebrated the Bride and Groom’s anniversary yesterday, which was better than last year since we were quarantining. Today a new year begins on the Jewish calendar.

You may think it’s 2021, but for Jews around the world it’s 5782! It’s time to gather and listen to the shofar, to dip apples in honey. But since our Grands are too young to be vaccinated, there will be no religious service to attend, not even outside.

The Delta variant and vaccine deniers, politicians and mask evaders are rejoicing no doubt.

And since Great Grandma Ada left us almost one year ago, the excitement of a new year – one that looks destined to continue a spiritual lockdown – has eluded me. Granted this holiday isn’t the biggest one on the Jewish calendar, but for me it was the easiest to accomplish at home. You could use flour, and nothing had to be fried!

September is not just for holidays, let the month of many birthday parties begin!

The first was Saturday. Bob and I drove the Grands to a first grade friend’s party at an outdoor mini-golf course. I’m constantly amazed at how young parents can deliver a safe birthday celebration for their children during our year and a half of living with Covid.

The L’il Pumpkin said yesterday, “Isn’t Delta an airplane?” And we all joined in with applause because of course it’s an airline and it’s also a kitchen faucet, and a toilet. Now the image of a Delta toilet is stuck in my mind. Being able to laugh, to make Dad Jokes, was helpful as we reminisced with the Bride and Groom about the wedding. Because my daughter and husband were married on a mountain.

They said their vows on a sunlit, crisp day in an apple orchard, under Ada’s handmade Huppah.

And since Rosh Hashanah moves around on a lunar calendar, it wasn’t until today that I made the connection – apples and honey is to the New Year as an apple orchard is to the Wedding!

There is the tiniest of chills in the early morning air here in Nashville. The oppressive 90+ degree heat has left us. As the High Holy Days approach, I’m thinking of renewal. Of strengthening ties that bind and letting go of nonsense. Of living in the present so I can recognize joy when it appears. Of creating healthier habits, of accepting the things I cannot change.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference. Reinhold Niebuhr

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Testing, one two three. Testing. My patience has been tested like never before these past few weeks. First it was the dumpster.

Right before we flew to LA, a group of smartly dressed people began appearing in front of our living room windows; pointing up, taking pictures and generally talking about their dating lives. Our city farmhouse sits right up to the sidewalk so Ms Bean will yelp every time someone walks by.

Bob of course got the lowdown. It seems there is a major problem with the apartment building across the street. These were professional engineers and photographers and consultants who were about to investigate who was at fault – was it the building’s owners or the builders? They brought in the big dumpster, and dropped it right in front of our front door!

It would only be a couple of weeks they assured us.

Meanwhile, we turned up our classical music on Sonos, brought our cricket-chirping noise machine downstairs, and attempted to carry on all while parking our car at the opposite end of our street so we wouldn’t block traffic. I longed for my quiet Blue Ridge sanctuary as I watched a guy in a cherry picker strip siding off the apartment building and toss it in the dumpster.

Would this building collapse like the one in Miami? There was no time to worry since we hopped on a plane to California.

When we returned surprise surprise, the dumpster was still there and it had a friend – a big green cherry picker parked directly across from our garden. Before we left, the picker had left every evening, but now it must be moving in.

The black tarps down the five story building would flutter with the wind when I opened the living room shutters, and come Monday morning, a miracle. No noise! Tuesday morning came and nobody showed up, nada. So Bob had a little talk with the building manager and whatdoyaknow, the dumpster and the cherry picker disappeared…. All except the fluttering black tarps that grace the view from my window.

Instead of enjoying the relative quiet, we packed up Ms Bean and drove to Atlanta. Her car sickness is well behind her, she happily curled up in the back seat. The four hour road trip saw very few people wearing masks, and now that we’ve arrived it’s even less.

Our Big Chill reunion got off to a great start because everybody is vaccinated and our friends had just installed a pool! Our host was in Guys and Dolls with me, he’s a retired PA. I attended the Junior Prom with the lawyer from Buffalo. And Bob’s best bud came all the way from Richmond, an engineer recently single. Our history goes back to elementary school for Bob, and I was lucky to join the group of nerdy smart kids in high school.

But our host’s daughter was recently exposed to someone with COVID. So the weekend is ours to reminisce and laugh and cry over our lost brothers, Lyle, Rich, Dickie. To debate the merits of crystals. To catch up on our respective lives, good and bad.

And just as we were lounging around the gorgeous pool, we heard construction noise nearby, like right next door. A tree had fallen on the neighbor’s house and so…. Here we were in this verdant Atlanta suburb, and it wasn’t filled with leaf blowers but good ole heavy construction was going on a mere 50 ft away.

We feasted on Low Country Stew and had a yummy peach cobbler for dessert last night. I wonder if it was a peach tree.

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We’d been painting swatches of different colors on the drywalls of the Rocker’s new home in the hills of LA It was a construction zone; pipes and plaster everywhere. My son radiated happiness as he explained the timeline for the floors and kitchen appliances.

He’d been stripping paint off the wood ceiling and beams for weeks, when he wasn’t composing music.

Aunt Kiki was back at her studio, designing dreamy houses and hotels for the carriage trade. She’d picked the sumptuous colors for their new home and was planning on meeting us for dinner. Sushi was on the menu for sure.

I wasn’t quite prepared for the beauty of California. For the smell of oleander, the intense sun, for everybody wearing masks! Palm trees poked through the horizon as we headed back to their apartment, a one bedroom nest that was their workplace/safe harbor during COVID.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, sirens! The Rocker slammed on the brakes, turned to me and said, “It’s a car chase!”

Bob was in the front seat, we looked at each other as a grey sedan went flying by the front windshield, followed closely by a black and white police car. Within a second we heard a crash.

As we inched our way into the intersection, I looked down the street – a cop (holding onto his gun) jumped out of his car in hot pursuit of a runner (holding onto his pants). It felt like they must be filming an episode of Law and Order, only this was real. We’d just missed being tee-boned by a runaway felon. Actually, there were four guys in that first car, and the LAPD caught them all.

The Rocker swears this doesn’t happen all the time, and yet, if you Google “car chase,” The City of Angels is prompted. Later that evening, I asked Kiki if Cedar Sinai Hospital really had fine art hanging in their hallways. Thankfully she had never visited that ER. In imagining the worst case scenario, I put my own positive spin on our near death adventure.

To every war that ends, there is an aftermath. To every vaccine there is a variant. To every brilliant day in The Hollywood hills, there may be a car chase.

A view from the treehouse

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I’ve been thinking about New Zealand lately. Bob mentioned something in passing that is now stuck in my brain like a never ending podcast; do you know how many COVID deaths, how many TOTAL people have died from this virus on Prime Minister Jacinda Arden’s watch? 26

TWENTY SIX

“Going hard and early has worked for us before,” Arden said as she announced another lockdown because ONE citizen in Auckland has tested positive and she is assuming it’s the new Delta variant.

We have seen what can happen elsewhere if we fail to get on top of it. We only get one chance.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-58241619

New Zealand is an island of nearly 5 Million people and their public health response to Covid-19 was not only rapid, it was comprehensive including contact tracing and enforced quarantine. Now schools, offices and businesses will close for one week in any region the infected patient happened to visit.

There was no denial, no delusional thinking. There was no TRY for New Zealand, there is only DO. In a country with a mere 20% of its population vaccinated, it had been COVID free for nearly six months!

That’s one third of this pandemic time capsule, they actually had been going out, eating in and basically partying like it’s 1999, or at least 2019. It’s as if the rest of the world got sucked into a wormhole, and New Zealanders did the right and proper things to survive.

Are Kiwis just more altruistic than us? Do they not follow algorithms down meerkat holes of conspiracy nonsense? My theory is not that they are so much smarter, it s all about leadership. Particularly the orange clown show early on, the guy who wanted to end our never ending wars. Remember him? The media can focus on Biden’s handling of our withdrawal from Afghanistan, but I’m trying to muster up the courage to ‘change the things I can.’

Being married to an ER doc has its disadvantages. Bob likes to remind me that we’re all on a slow steady stream to the grave. I’m in a perpetual state of decline, my vision is getting worse and my hearing will most likely be next, either before or after some joint replacement. I have a wonderful physical therapist on speed dial, or should I say my list of favorites?

But for all his candid talk of death and dying, these COVID numbers are staggering. The USA has lost more than 622,000 souls to this disease. The US population is a little over 330 Million. We’ve lost 2 out of every thousand people.

New Zealand has lost 26 souls to this disease. The New Zealand population is about five million people. They’ve lost 5 out of every MILLION people. Relative to that island nation’s population, we have lost 400 times as many people!

So let’s not compare Afghanistan deaths to Vietnam deaths or Civil War deaths or any other totally useless wars because this COVID death count is going up again. And we squandered our chance to stop it. We were slow and stupid at first, and now we’re just, ummm, misinformed?

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