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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

A Southern summer is upon us. You can smell jasmine in the air. In this Time of Coronavirus, the days seem to creep by slower and more deliberately. First up: watering the garden right after breakfast because later in the day would be miserable; temperatures soar past 90 and the humidity is at extreme beach hair levels.

I’m feeling confined again, not just from this pandemic but also from the Nashville weather.

Luckily, Bob and I did manage to get out of the house this past holiday weekend. The Bride and Groom were cooking hot dogs and veggie burgers so we sat on one side of their expansive front porch. Two old grandparents in a pair of rocking chairs! After a week of hugs and kisses in Florida I’m bereft, we are again consigned to making a beating heart with our fingers and blowing kisses. Our first socially distant Fourth of July.

Even in the shade, and with fans whirring above our heads, sweat ran down my back. Even their two rescue dogs snuck back into the cool, air-conditioned house, abandoning food and family on the porch.

The real excitement came earlier in the day while I was assembling a vegetable tart. The Bride texted me – “I’m going to West Elm to look at rugs, wanna come?”

You betcha! A big, beautiful store? Why I haven’t been inside anything but a Whole Foods in months, during “senior” hours. Bob gave me his quizzical look, the one that says do you really want to risk your life over a bunch of tchotchkes? But I DID. I wanted to get out of the house, alone in the car for awhile, and wander around this hip, modern furniture store on the fancy side of town. With my daughter. Wearing masks of course. And it was delightful.

Everyone in the store was wearing a mask, and it was very early so there were just a few customers. The soaring ceiling gave me an extra level of comfort. I sat in swivel chairs. I picked up dishes even though a sign said “touchless shopping” was appreciated. Mea Culpa. We looked at rugs, all kinds of rugs; some with wool from New Zealand and some that resembled a Jackson Pollock painting. We were looking for an 8×10 to go into her new library – shelves had been built after all, and she wanted a cozy rug.

A soft, cozy rug to entice her little digital natives to curl up with a book.

But then I spotted one man in the store, walking around holding a mask in his hand. It wasn’t on his chin, or over his mouth right under his nose, which is another pet peeve. I guess he was too lazy to actually put it on on his face? He trailed behind his wife and a store employee, both in masks, and I had such a visceral feeling of contempt. Is he stupid? Does he feel like the rules – specifically for a mask mandate in public – don’t apply to him? He was not abiding by this social contract, he was threatening all our lives.

My daughter had just finished an evening shift in the ER, she had worn an N95 the night before for eight hours straight, and we were wearing our homemade cloth masks in the store. Our first time in a store. The least he could do was #MaskUp. To be clear, most people in Nashville are now wearing masks in public. We are still in the business of making masks for neighbors, in fact, the Grands like to count the number of masks they see whenever they ride in a car.

I really wanted to confront the mask-in-hand man, but I just steered clear. After all, what if he was a “Florida Man?” What if he started yelling at me, accusing me of taking away his freedom? What if he called the police? After all I’m a “Jersey Girl” so I wouldn’t back away from a fight.

I wonder, is a “Florida Man” the male equivalent of a “Karen?” I know lots of lovely Karens and hate this sobriquet for a middle-aged, white entitled woman; it seems like just another sexist remark. Maybe we should all stop using mean, stereotypical words to describe the human race!

Besides I just finished a Qigong class with my Florida man via Zoom. He lives in Gainesville and is absolutely kind and generous! I’m sure he wears a mask in public. And now I have to set up the yoga mats for Pilates Zoom with Bob.

Come to think of it, this hazy, lazy summer is starting to get busy!

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Yesterday was a day for the record books. In a 6 to 3 ruling, the SCOTUS ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, passed when I was a junior in high school, also covers gay and transgender rights. Now, along with the rest of us, the LGBTQ community cannot be discriminated against in the workplace. ANY workplace. HALLELUJAH!

It was a glimmer of light in a desolate spring. Americans have been staying at home, making and wearing masks to protect the must vulnerable among us, giving up our freedom to assemble, to go to restaurants and beauty parlors, and hug our loved ones.

We have witnessed the murder of unarmed, African Americans by a police force operating with impunity for decades. Risking infection from a novel virus, we have marched and protested, demanding change. Americans of all colors and all religious beliefs have said enough is enough. Black people have not had the freedom to drive or walk… without the underlying fear of being attacked.

So now that Title VII is the law of the land, what do evangelical Christians think? Elizabeth Dias writes in the New York Times:

“No question it is going to make it harder to defend our religious freedom, as far as an organization being able to hire people of like mind,” said Franklin Graham, who leads Samaritan’s Purse, a large evangelical relief group.

“I find this to be a very sad day,” he said. “I don’t know how this is going to protect us.”

They want to be able to hire people of, “like mind.” Their “religious freedom” is at stake! I wonder, was this what Norman Rockwell meant when he painted the Four Freedoms? Tucking your child in at night, free of fear? Or was it the profiles of white faces deep in prayer?

Because Black parents today must have “the Talk” with their children about the police. Because White parents today must explain systemic racism to their children. Parents today are buying bullet-proof backpacks in anticipation of schools re-opening in the fall. Because a small number of Americans cannot see fit to give up their “freedom” to own assault rifles. Because some even marched into a statehouse, guns strapped to their backs, because these same “Freedom Loving” people didn’t like wearing masks!

Their freedom was at stake because of a cloth covering their nose and mouth.

Yesterday, the light did shine through a very big crack in our society. Bigger than the Liberty Bell. Maybe the intersection of gun violence and racism will finally be addressed by legislators saying NO to the NRA. Maybe the majority of Americans will be able to stop living in fear, and will practice their religion where it belongs – in a church, mosque, temple or their home.

Today is not a sad day. In fact, today is Great Grandma Ada’s 96th birthday and we will celebrate her as best we can, through the glass in the vestibule.

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At daybreak, I hear Ms Bean’s clickety paws on the floor, and the bedroom door closes. If I’m lucky, I might get another sleep cycle. When I wake from my Covid dream, the one about keeping Great Grandma Ada away from the crowded dining hall at Camp St Joseph, I have to change my nightgown. Bob likes our bedroom freezing cold at night, and I’ve been sweating glowing a lot lately.

Breakfast is easy; but first, coffee. I know Bob loves me because he keeps the Keurig carafe filled with water. I need to wake up with a big mug, my only caffeine fix of the day. And I like to watch a few cable news networks in the process – how many more deaths, what state is seeing a spike in virus infections, what does, “Defund the Police” actually mean?

Breakfast is a banana, covered in vanilla yogurt and granola. My favorite Hudson Henry granola from Virginia, the orange bag with pecans and chocolate. We order it in bulk, direct from the company. I pour myself a big glass of green iced tea, and flip open my laptop.

Bob eats Eggo waffles most days and doesn’t like watching the news in the morning. He’d much rather watch Rachel Maddow at night; we are the exact opposite in our daily news consumption. I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I watched Rachel before bed. Or if I did, my Covid nightmares would get worse.

This morning, he’s in the living room with classical music and his iPad. Soon, he’ll be outside watering the garden.

In my office, I check in on Twitter, the BBC, and the New York Times, in that order. Did you know that Winston Churchill was a racist? An idea for an essay is percolating in my mind. I look up and out the window, something has caught my eye. Beyond the parking lot across the back alley, a shirtless man keeps popping up doing jumping jacks. Intrigued, I stand to get the full view – eight push-ups on the ground followed by the jump.

Some people miss the gym more than others.

Around 9am Bob pops in to say he’ll be walking Ms Bean, and I hear her happy joy circle dance by the front door. He yells back, “By the way, I fed the starter.” My cell is off and Bob knows not to disturb me when I’m writing. How do I know? I know this because I overheard him tell a friend that Tuesdays he’s on his own in the morning! Well until 11am anyway.

We used to drive Ms Berdelle to 11am T’ai Chi at the Y on Tuesdays, but now we set up two yoga mats on the floor in the living room. Bob has decided to join my Zoom Beginner Pilates class. He’s read my post and gives me feedback like any good editor while we gather foam rollers, balls and exercise bands, the tools of the senior set.

During Pilates I find out there’s a fire burning in Tucson, where my instructor’s mother lives, and she had to be evacuated last night. I try to concentrate on cracking a walnut between my shoulder blades, sticking my tush out, and what I’m going to make for dinner. I try not to think about climate change.

After Pilates Bob asks, “Do we have any plans for lunch?”

Luckily, I don’t have any plans for lunch, so we decide to walk down to the Vietnamese restaurant and see if there’s a table on the socially distant patio. We haven’t been out to eat in three months. Unluckily, all the tables, which is maybe half of the usual tables, are occupied so we pick up two ready made salads and walk home. I really miss going out for lunch.

Long ago Bob told me I was making him fat because I’m a pretty good cook, a backhanded compliment for sure – ever since that day, whenever I cook something for us to eat, he gets to make his own plate. You see, somewhere along my feminist learning curve I decided that I was supposed to plan and shop and cook a delicious dinner every single night… for 41 years… but not breakfast or lunch.

I never got the memo that I didn’t have to cook dinner. I still look with wonder at younger women who say they never cook. I mean, is that even possible?

After lunch we decide to make a Shipt order on my computer. Bob likes to do this with me, he drags in another chair so we can sit side by side while we discuss the status of milk in the refrigerator. We would rarely go grocery shopping together in the past, but he needs more bread flour. Bob is now on his fifth try at perfecting sourdough bread, in my vintage Dutch oven.

“You should see, my starter is growing!” Bob tells me proudly and we discuss the merits of sourdough baking – damp towels, parchment paper, bubbling.

The afternoon is upon us and it’s time to start our day, so we go back upstairs to shower and I change my yoga pants and floss my teeth. I’m responding to comments on social media about my blog on my phone and doing laundry when I hear a timer go off. It’s time for Bob to “do something” big, there’s lots of noise in the kitchen. I think he’s making the dough, or maybe it’s time to “stretch and fold.”

Then my phone bings and we have to drive-through the pharmacy and get a case of wine curbside delivered.  We suit ourselves up in masks and head for the car. As soon as I start the engine, my cell rings so loudly on blue tooth that we both startle. Four people call us in that 15 minute round-trip ride. A brother has a tax question, a grand daughter has a bee bite, a neighbor has a medical consult, and what color gray should the Bride paint her new bookshelves?

We arrive home and I Google “panzanella” salad. What a great Italian idea for the heel of a sourdough loaf of bread! It’s also close enough to 5 o’clock somewhere to pour a cold, glass of unoaked Chardonnay. But first I must feed Ms Bean.

Then I tell Bob to pick some kale, and I pick some tarragon. Chopped garlic and tarragon, mixed with a little honey mustard and salt and pepper, then add Balsamic vinegar and some good EVOO. I wash and halve some cherry tomatoes, tear up the kale, and Bob’s picked a pepper too. I improvised and threw in some leftover pasta salad and added some cubes of Swiss cheese, but any hard cheese would do. I combine the chunks of bread that I’ve dried a bit in a hot oven with the veggies and pour the vinaigrette over it all.  https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-panzanella-italian-bread-salad-recipe-206824

We had to dance around each other in our galley kitchen since Bob was kneading or rolling dough while I was assembling the salad, but he pronounced it my best summer salad evah!

Time for another stroll with Ms Bean. She’s super excited because I’m joining them. We’ve relaxed our puppy sniffing rules a bit, but we still don’t stop to pet other dogs. Sometimes we talk, but half the young people in our neighborhood are not wearing masks. How can people be so callous? Our Mayor has decided to keep Nashville at Phase 2 of re-opening, but we’re staying home in our own Phase 1 for the most part.

The bread is sitting on the counter rising, and we’re ready to wind down. Tomorrow morning the sourdough bread goes in the oven. We might play Scrabble or watch Netflix tonight. Or talk to the kids on the patio across the way, they are both residents at Vanderbilt. Our kids are driving to the beach for a well deserved vacation from Covid.

We could all use a vacation about now.

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Yesterday, I woke up and felt the day looming large. Every morning Bob asks me what’s on our agenda, which should be funny right? My reply was “Absolutely nothing!” I was somewhat short and slightly incredulous while trying to smooth out a bumpy start to another day in quarantine. Day number 62 or 63 or 64? After coffee, I reconsidered.

I wanted to change the sheets, I needed to do a Shipt grocery order, and before long the Bride called because she needed Bob to print something out for her. Kids today don’t have printers. Or landlines or clothes lines. Or cable TV.

This morning is different. I woke up on clean sheets and thought to myself, “Hooray it’s Tuesday.” Today I’ll be writing and listening to Dr Tony Fauci on CNN speak remotely to a Senate panel about the coronavirus. Bob’s planning on listening to SCOTUS discuss Mr T’s taxes on NPR. We’ll be having a dueling listening party in our separate offices/guest bedrooms with a background of birdsong in the garden. Deciding our lunch plans seemed a long way off.

Yesterday, I also remembered I wanted to mend a pair of pants, an old, soft corduroy pair of Eileen Fisher pants that I love. So I picked up my iPad to scroll through Pinterest because I knew I had saved a tutorial on the Japanese art of Sashiko under my “Corona Crafts” board.

Time really flies on Pinterest! Before long, I realized I’d ordered the wrong iron-on facing and I was going to need an embroidery hoop. I thought I had embroidery hoops because I’d made dream catchers for the Grands with ribbons of feathers since we’d moved to Nashville. So I opened up my overflowing office closet and began organizing my jewelry making materials while looking for an embroidery hoop… My office was littered with beads and unfinished knitting projects.

I was also trying to find a picture of me at 13 so the Love Bug could compare me to Hayley Mills. Then my phone dinged and it was Vanderbilt texting to tell me that I had an eye doctor appointment. “Text YES to confirm or NO.” And for a day with nothing planned, I suddenly felt overwhelmed. I’ve never been great at multi-tasking, but could I be developing adult-onset ADHD?

Now Dr Fauci is talking about the “inevitable return of infections,” and I thought about the wisdom of our Native people. A governor in South Dakota is threatening to sue native tribes for attempting to keep the virus out of their community by setting up roadblocks, “checkpoints,” on state roads.

“The chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, Harold Frazier, issued a statement in response to the governor on Friday, saying: “We will not apologise for being an island of safety in a sea of uncertainty and death.”

“You continuing to interfere in our efforts to do what science and facts dictate seriously undermine our ability to protect everyone on the reservation,” he added.  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52615311

Our country has infected Native Americans before, we have thrown them off their land and herded them into reservations like the Cheyenne River Sioux, who have only one hospital with no intensive care beds. It happens that my Parnassus First Edition Club book this month is all about tribal history. “The Night Watchman” by Louise Erdich.

Based on the extraordinary life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich’s  grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D.C., this powerful novel explores themes of love and death with lightness and gravity and unfolds with the elegant prose, sly humor, and depth of feeling of a master craftsman.”

Today Dr Fauci is “cautiously optimistic.” I wish I felt the same way. I used to worry about violent, mentally ill patients in the ER when my daughter announced she was interested in Emergency Medicine. I never thought about a virus like this, even though Bob has dealt with Ebola, H1N1 and HIV over the course of his career. This morning the Bride called on her way to work, she is a courageous and resilient young woman, so I must let go of my fear. I must focus, and try to create an island of calm in the midst of this crisis.

I must order an embroidery hoop online. This was yesterday, in the garden.

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The Love Bug went to her first socially-distant birthday party. It was just a few girls, in her friend’s backyard, watching a movie. The Bride texted me afterward because she knew I loved this particular movie, the original Parent Trap with Hayley Mills. In the summer of 1961, when it was released, I was a 13 year old camper; when the Flapper picked me up from Camp St Joseph for Girls and we drove home, I had no idea random people would mistake me for the actress who played twins so perfectly.

Strangely enough, the movie started out at a summer camp. But that feeling of being displaced – one city twin switched her life with the other country twin – hit home. I was always being displaced. I had moved back in with the Flapper when I was 11, but still went to visit my foster parents almost every weekend. I went to Catholic School and then to public high school.

And my mantra, whenever people found out about this strange arrangement, was to say how lucky I was – “I have TWO mothers!”

I had a modern day working mother, and a more traditional stay-at-home mother. The Flapper curled her hair and did her nails every Sunday. She drove a car and swore like a sailor. She was the exact opposite of Nell, and I loved them both. I don’t remember Mother’s Day being a big celebration back then, but once I became a mom, things changed.

My fondest Mother’s Day was back in the Berkshires with my BFF Lee. We both had babies and made the men cook and serve us dinner. Bob and Al were grilling while we luxuriated in the warm sunshine. Spring in New England was such a relief, seeing crocus pop up out of snow, and our Windsor pond melt. Soon crayfish would be nipping at my toes.

Once we moved back to NJ, we were living near Great Grandma Ada, and so we became Mother’s Day Brunch buddies. We’d exchange gifts, usually flowers for planting, and get all decked out like the ladies who lunch. It became a tradition, a rite of Spring, meeting up to celebrate motherhood everywhere.

But how does one celebrate Mother’s Day in the time of coronavirus? We had to leave a package for Ada in the infamous pecan pie vestibule. Peonies from our secret garden (thank you Ms Berdelle), sushi from Whole Foods. And tomorrow Bob and I will have dinner with the Bride and Groom – although he is On Call in the ICU, so who knows? – and I will bring my famous homemade mac and cheese. We will sit a good 6-10 ft apart on their porch in the setting sun.

I feel as if my work here on earth is done. My daughter is an amazing mother. She is an Emergency Room doctor who takes care of the most vulnerable among us, and she loves her children with a ferocity beyond measure. The Bride has started baking sourdough bread, and just gave Bob a starter. The Flapper would be so very proud. Great Grandma Ada should be there with us.

We delivered masks to the Grands in their PJs – Star Wars for the L’il Pumpkin and Scrabble for the Love Bug. Happy Mother’s Day to all my mother…friends! Celebrate like nobody’s watching.

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What makes a worker essential today? Certainly nurses, and Happy National Nurses Day, are critical to our healthcare system, and doctors and therapists and pharmacists. So are grocery store workers, the postal service and delivery people too. But why have pawn shops stayed open; and do we really need a gun store to remain open? In Georgia, you can now take your family bowling!

Just as some states are easing coronavirus stay-at-home orders, do you feel safe to re-enter society? Gov Lee may have let his order expire on May 1, but Nashville has its own health department and our mayor is extending our quarantine for another few weeks. We think…

In this piecemeal approach to public health, with a president who uses the Defense Production Act to keep meat processing plants open but not to manufacture PPE, I sometimes feel as if I’ve dropped down a rabbit hole. Initially, I refused to believe a global pandemic could become political fodder, but every day gets curiouser and curiouser.

When I used to drive around town, I’d flip the NJ state bird at the small group of mostly men who would stand outside our Planned Parenthood facility. They held big, grotesque signs and appeared to be “praying.” Now that the sunroof can be open, it would be quite gratifying to continue! But I was beyond belief to read that the GOP agenda had been toiling away under cover of this virus to ban abortions as “non-essential” medical services.

What if you’ve found yourself pregnant, maybe alone and out of a job, imagine having to drive 300 miles just to find a reproductive health provider deemed essential in a neighboring state. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52535940?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.com/news/world&link_location=live-reporting-story

The state of Texas usually performs about 50,000 abortions a year, that is until they were banned. The BBC story is about a married woman in Austin who was delighted to find out she was pregnant with twins. She’d been trying for a long time, but unfortunately she lives in a Republican state in the time of coronavirus.

When she was only fourteen weeks along, she was devastated to find out that one twin had died in utero. Then she and her husband received more bad news;  doctors had found “…lethal skeletal dysplasia for the remaining twin. We were told that condition was incompatible with life and that the baby would suffocate upon being born and never be able to draw their first breath.” 

I know what that feels like. One of my 3 miscarriages, in 1982, was a surgically induced abortion – the heart beat was gone and I had a choice. Wait out the pregnancy to deliver what, a dead conglomerate of cells? A blighted ovum? I chose surgery, and it wasn’t easy. In fact, I had some grave complications; but to wait, and have people ask me “How far along are you?” every day was unacceptable.

The woman from Texas, with twins, had to drive to New Mexico because her doctor could not perform the procedure. Even though she would never hold two living babies, her doctor said only if it was to save her life could he perform the procedure. Her emotional life was of no consequence. Because her legislators could play with a woman’s constitutional human rights.

While they deemed gun stores essential services in Texas!

We are at a crossroads. How much do we value a human life? I know we all want this quarantine to end, but what if you had a child who was taking immunosuppresive drugs? What if you have a grandmother with a heart condition, or a grandfather with diabetes? How about that aunt of yours who won’t stop smoking?

Is it more important to you to buy a cheeseburger, and not to look silly wearing a mask? B96985A6-CA43-4105-9B32-92AA5538D06B

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Yesterday I had to bite the bullet, I buzzed Bob’s head! He bought this Norelco hair trimmer weeks ago and I was secretly hoping I wouldn’t have to use it, but after watching a few YouTube videos I mustered my courage. He sat outside in the garden with a dish towel over his shoulders and I got to work. The buzzer had 100 attachments but I only used 4; one for the back, one for the top, two for around the ears and a small trimmer. It wasn’t so bad and I only left one small lightning stripe over an ear.

A runner cruised by and asked if he could be next!

But my next step was starting dinner. I defrosted some pork chops and began assembling the ingredients for rice and beans – shallots, garlic, rice, fire roasted tomatoes, and black beans. My chopping block now stands next to the sink, since my kitchen island has turned into a cutting table for our mask making endeavor. We have already made dozens of masks from donated material and tee shirts.

This week we delivered five masks to Great Grandma Ada and Hudson so that they could supply their friends. The routine so far is that we knock on the locked door and the receptionist opens it to exchange our bag of masks for their drugs. Then we sit in the vestibule and while Bob sorts their medications I talk on the phone, through the window, to Ada. But our last visit didn’t work so well.

First of all, the vestibule is a mini-Grand Central Station. Aides, physical therapists, private aides, and kitchen workers pass through every few minutes and every single one of them must stop… and knock… and have their temperature taken at the door. In the vestibule. One time a maintenance guy came in and started rolling up the carpet under our feet.

But the last time it was a piece of pecan pie that created the log jam. While one son (Bob), a doctor sorting his parents’ meds was sitting behind a table, another son came into the vestibule with his wife to deliver a piece of pie to his mother. And while one private duty aide was leaving and the receptionist had the door open, all four people, within arm’s length of each other, started into talking about pie. Granted they all had masks on, still it was getting crowded in there.

And although I found this conversation interesting, Bob was less than pleased, so he said, “Would you mind taking your conversation about pie outside?”

You would have thought he asked them to practice social distancing or something. In retrospect, I can tell when Bob switches into doctor mode where compliance is a given. It seems that everybody is a bit on edge these days, and long term care facilities are getting their fair share of bad coronavirus news. So the pecan pie fuse was lit, and the aide had a bit of a temper tantrum walking around outside, telling people that guy, my guy, doesn’t own the air. Calling him names while the receptionist disappeared and the couple stormed off to call in a complaint.

And it would have been comical if this wasn’t a life and death situation. I might have chalked it up to a misunderstanding over the Mason-Dixon line; we Yanks aren’t great at small talk, we get right to the point. But since Bob is also a caregiver, besides being family, going forward this “vestibule” arrangement isn’t sustainable. This semi-lockdown was the facility’s idea; aides go in and out of Ada and Hudson’s apartment all the time, to empty the garbage and deliver meals, and they only recently started wearing masks.

According to the CDC 20% of healthcare workers are infected with the virus, but they didn’t count long term care or nursing homes:

“The CDC’s report indicated most of the cases were white women in their 40s, according to The Washington Post.

Women made up the vast majority of cases at 73%, according to The Hill. Many of the infected professionals — about 38% — had underlying health conditions, and most of those who died from COVID-19 were 65 years or older, The Hill reported.

The report likely under counts the number of cases among medical professionals because of a lack of testing in a given region, The Post reported. There are also a number of institutions that are not testing health care workers in order to reserve tests for patients, according to The Post.”  https://www.miamiherald.com/news/coronavirus/article242019511.html

Instead of buzzing around like bees over gossip and horrible ravings about drinking or injecting disinfectant to kill the virus, let’s give ourselves a break and try listening to scientists. Here is a great article about two countries that are doing just that! https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/24/world/australia/new-zealand-coronavirus.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

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Anyone else having pandemic dreams? We’ve reversed our dream life lately; Bob has been having Covid nightmares and I can’t seem to recall my dreams.

Normally, I have a vivid and colorful dream or two every night, while Bob wakes up empty handed in the morning. He’ll listen stoically over coffee while I regale him with my nightly scenario, only to tell me he’s got nothing. I insist he must have been dreaming, he just can’t remember.

My dreams are the usual anxiety type – “I’m about to take a test and realize I never went to the class,” or “I’m about to get on a plane and the pilot is someone I know who doesn’t know how to fly.” They are actually pretty straight forward, and sometimes my dreams are a reminder to do something I’ve been putting off, like make an appointment with a dentist.

Good luck with that one now, although I could drive to Georgia to get a tattoo!

This morning, for the first time in weeks, almost 6 weeks in fact, I remembered my dream. I was in charge of a theatrical production and I’d promised a script to someone… I was running around but I couldn’t find it. (This is me. Every. Damn. Day with my phone) so I had to go outside… to find the script or the person. And the outside was like the outside of my original high school in NJ, only the sidewalk was crowded with people. I had to yell at everyone to “Make Way!” It was like the parting of the sea, get out of my way, “Back Up!”

Obviously a quarantine dream. Bob, on the other hand, has been dreaming like crazy! He gets into a situation and realizes he’s too close to someone. Or he’s all of sudden surrounded by people and has to figure the safest, best way out.

In general, fear is the dominant emotion manifested by coronavirus dreams. When fear or anxiety becomes too intense during our waking lives, deep, REM sleep fails and we may experience repetitive nightmares. Psychologists say that sharing your dreams with others may help .

“During our dream states, stress sends the brain on a trip. The neurobiological signals and reactions that produce dreams are similar to those triggered by psychedelic drugs, according to McNamara. Psychedelics activate nerve receptors called serotonin 5-HT2A, which then turn off a part of the brain called the dorsal prefrontal cortex. The result is known as “emotional disinhibition,” a state in which emotions flood the consciousness, especially during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, when we typically dream.”  https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/04/coronavirus-pandemic-is-giving-people-vivid-unusual-dreams-here-is-why/

During the 60s, I didn’t really participate in the psychedelic drug scene, remember I went to Catholic school. The whole idea of walking around inside a hallucination never appealed to me, I’d rather be asleep on such a phantasmagorical journey. But this global pandemic is novel, it’s not confined by country or ideology. We are all experiencing a kind of PTSD, well most of us who aren’t driving around with Confederate flags on our pick-ups eager to open up commerce cause, ya know.

They’d rather sacrifice lives and die than have their liberty trampled! Who doesn’t need a good haircut about now?

I’m sick and tired of the vernacular of fear. Of a toddler/president who thinks everybody loves him. Of a government that can’t organize a simple supply chain for SWABS! I’m sleep and dream deprived but I’m not willing to give up now, not when my daughter has spent the last 3 days working in an ER.

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This morning Mr T has been rapid-fire Tweeting: “Liberate Michigan,” Liberate Minnesota,” “Liberate Virginia!”

He must be sweating this Covid crisis out; not being able to golf or visit his gilded palaces. As much he loves holding a campaign rally Corona Virus presser every day, with vacillating degrees of success, I’m sure he’s aware of his falling poll numbers. After all, he’s a “very stable genius” who loves ratings. So Mr T’s first phase of re-opening the country includes BARS and RESTAURANTS? Oh, and don’t forget to add a few GOP friendly beaches to the list.

This virus doesn’t play politics! Anyone with half of a stable brain knows that testing is the common denominator in every country that has lifted social distancing requirements. I’m very happy to report that yesterday, Gov Bill Lee announced free testing for everyone in the Volunteer State:

“ICYMI: Free COVID-19 testing is available to all Tennesseans, regardless of symptoms. We’re opening 15 new drive-through testing pop-ups this weekend across the state. Find a site near you: bit.ly/34JalHN 

And in another bit of bright news, did you hear that almost ALL the sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt were tested for the corona virus?

“Roughly 60 percent of the over 600 sailors who tested positive so far have not shown symptoms of COVID-19, the potentially lethal respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, the Navy says. The service did not speculate about how many might later develop symptoms or remain asymptomatic.” https://taskandpurpose.com/news/uss-theodore-roosevelt-sailors-coronavirus-asymptomatic

And here’s the takeaway according to my husband, the doctor – this ship is a select sample of relatively healthy, young people, but it could mean that 30-50% of the population may become infected without any symptoms at all! So if taking our temperatures before we return to work or restaurants is of little use, testing becomes even more important!

This desire to return to normal is universal. But is returning to “normal” really what you want? The Bride calls this pandemic era the Great Pause, and that suits me. What do we value most of all when our freedom to move about has been seriously curtailed? Parents with young children at home have a new appreciation for teachers. Think about doctors and nurses risking their lives for us, the Groom is working 24/7 on his Covid ICU unit this week. Those beds are full, but they haven’t had to use the cafeteria for a MASH unit.

Social distancing has been working in Davidson County; Nashville, a blue dot in a red state, has been starving the coronavirus, the rest of the state maybe not so much! “Vanderbilt researchers said Thursday they are now confident that many infected people in Nashville region are no longer passing the coronavirus to anyone else, and the overall number of people who are carrying the virus has begun to shrink.” https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/health/2020/04/16/vanderbilt-nashville-starving-coronavirus-but-tennessee-not/5145025002/

By slowing down, by pausing our economy, Mother Earth is able to take a deep breath. Still, we miss our families and friends most of all. We miss kissing and hugging our grandchildren, Sunday dinners, and going to a park for a picnic, visiting Great Grandma Ada and Hudson. Continuing care facilities are most at risk now, if we don’t stay the course until everyone is tested and a vaccine is developed we are putting our loved ones at risk.

Mr T must know if he is not re-elected he could be heading to jail. Don’t let the consummate con man dictate what liberation looks like. Voting by mail MUST be our next priority, not gathering on a beach.

The Bride delivered lunch this week, and we blew kisses.

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We are all figuring out ways to come together while apart.

Bob and I shared cocktail hour one night in a parking lot with neighbors. Some of us sat on tailgates and some got comfy on camp chairs. While keeping the appropriate distance, we got caught up on local gossip – the last time we’d seen each other we were cleaning up the streets after our Tornado.

I like to capitalize Tornado because it seems weighty, and it was my first time cheating death by Mother Nature. And we cannot forget Nashville was already reeling, before our “Stay at Home” order; some of us had no roof, or a home for shelter.

Yesterday we ordered cupcakes from our local bakery, The Cupcake Collection. Mignon is offering curbside delivery! https://www.thecupcakecollection.com/  They had just started up their business again, after losing a good portion of their historic house to record-setting winds last month. I remember the Bride’s Italian Nanny, Giovanna, loved red velvet cupcakes. But we were hoping to celebrate Great Grandpa Hudson’s 94th birthday with some sweet potato cupcakes.

Hudson was a redhead when he was young. He lied about his age to enlist in WWII and served on a ship in the Pacific Theatre. He is the only grandfather my children have ever known since my father died when I was a baby, and Bob’s father, well, he was of no use. My children never met him.

Hudson still serves as Ada’s co-star in Nashville. But when we would visit them in NJ, he was always the fix-it guy, having actually built a hospital in Ghana once upon a time when he was a missionary. He carved gigantic totem poles, fixed furniture, the pool every spring, and any plumbing or roofing problems that might pop up. He was the husband/handyman every woman ever wanted. Over the years, he’d officiate at more weddings than I can count, including the Bride and Groom’s.

We sang the Happy Birthday song to Hudson through a glass window in the vestibule of their assisted living facility. I’m not really sure if he could hear us. Only aides are allowed in and out, but we could talk with Ada through our cell phones. Her spirit is incredible, this virus cannot diminish that resilient light. “How are my babies?” she asked me. So I told her how the Bride is home-schooling, that she has enough PPE for now, and about Dolly Parton’s gift to Vanderbilt. Dolly for President!

She said she likes my red hair, and I told her it was pink leaning toward fuchsia. Leave it to me to decide to color my hair when I won’t be able to see my stylist for awhile.

Bob and I have figured out how to use Zoom, it’s actually pretty easy. I can still take a group Pilates class once a week through my iPad. I only need a yoga mat and a foam roller. I almost don’t recognize myself in that gallery window box – who is that purple headed lady?

Some of you know that I’ve often felt like a character in an Anne Tyler novel, going about her day to day existence, seemingly normal, while balancing an out-of-control inner life. Maybe most writers live in the subtext? It’s certainly helpful right now – in this out-of-control outer life – to stay in the moment, so I thought I’d recommend Tyler’s newest book to you, since we all have a lot of time on our hands. Why not call up your local bookstore?

Her new novel is “Redhead by the Side of the Road.” It’s about second chances, it’s funny and compassionate at the same time. You might want to eat a cupcake while you read it! https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-520904645953AE18-6DD5-4CA6-93ED-99E3EFF69A4C

 

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