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Posts Tagged ‘Masks’

We have some very good news for you today. The Groom has returned from his two week exile in the Tower of Nashville garage apartment! He is virus and fever-free and our family couldn’t be happier. Next week, he and the Bride will be sharing home-schooling so he better rest up while he can. We’ve all learned that a surgical mask may not protect you if you’re around patients all the time, or colleagues who test positive.

But what about the rest of us? What have we learned in our (fill in the blank) weeks of quarantine? I’m on week 22 and I’ve learned that Bernie was pretty much right about everything, that police budgets are off the charts, that misogyny still lives in our political language, and that you get 50 points for using all your letters on one word in Scrabble!

Bob may never play with me again.

I’ve also discovered new family members on my biological Father’s side thanks to the Rocker and “23andMe.” Which resulted in my becoming addicted to “Ancestry” – the keeper of my personal DNA thread. You know the one, where I’m 99.9% Irish. I have a vague memory of traveling to a lake in PA, in a town named after a long dead relative, for my First Holy Communion in about 1953. I even have a black and white picture of an ancestral Victorian farmhouse there, with a huge wraparound porch.

I couldn’t wait to share this second cousin news with my brother, Dr Jim, and my sister Kay on our weekly Zoom call yesterday. Kay is the family archivist, after all she is the oldest sibling with the longest memory. She told me that two of my paternal aunts never had children, and another, Aunt Elinor (the grandmother of my newly discovered relatives), adored my Father. A fourth aunt died at the age of 15.

A chill ran down my spine when I later found her death certificate from 1914 on Ancestry; her cause of death was listed as “chronic endocarditis.” My Father was only 13 when she died, this may be why he decided to study pharmacology instead of taking over the family business. Druggists, in the 30s and 40s, were the de facto doctors in poor, working class communities. Many people were afraid of hospitals, they thought you could catch polio there.

Dr Jim, still a working psychologist, told his sisters that we should try doing a Pecha Kucha presentation about our lives! I think he’s afraid dementia may set in before our stories are told! It’s a power point presentation, where you show 20 slides for 20 seconds each. That gives you exactly six minutes and 40 seconds to talk about transformative events in your life. I’m not so sure Great Grandma Ada could condense 96 years to 20 pictures, but I’m willing to give it a try.

Pecha Kucha was invented by two architects four years ago, Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein, to fill up a gallery space they owned in Japan and increase business. Many big cities, before the pandemic hit, used to host pecha-nights, including Nashville. Why? “…the rules have a liberating effect. Suddenly, there’s no preciousness in people’s presentations. Just poetry.” https://www.wired.com/2007/08/st-pechakucha/

What would your first picture be? How would you begin the story of your life? My future adult Grands might start out with this picture of their Dad, released from his Covid quarantine.IMG_8085

 

 

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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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As we were driving home from Florida yesterday, we heard on the news that bars would no longer be serving alcoholic drinks. One night we had pulled our golf cart up to an outside bar on Santa Rosa Beach; there was only one other person placing a To-Go order. She didn’t have a mask on, so our brave Bride kept her distance, and managed to walk away with margaritas for the house – some with and some without alcohol.

I wonder what Florida bars will be serving up now, or will they switch to BYO? Will people still crowd into dark, beer-reeking bars – will they flirt and laugh and cough on one another?

The funny thing is, maybe one in ten people were wearing masks in the Panhandle. In fact, during one golf cart trip I was sitting in the back facing traffic and forgot I had my hand-made, purple batik mask on. Cars, our house, the early morning beach and golf carts were considered mask-free-zones for our little quaranteam… anyplace else, like ordering ice cream or drinks outside on patios the mask came on! We didn’t go to restaurants.

But sitting there, in the back of our little cart, masked with the L’il Pumpkin, who also had his fun Star Wars mask on, I was aware of people staring at us.  And it wasn’t a smiley stare, like “Aw, look at that Nana and her cute redheaded grandson!” Nope, it was more like, “What are you people doing here?” Someone actually hollered something hostile to us. I guess they didn’t think we could exercise our constitutional right to stay alive?

Congratulations Florida. Today you set a record for one day of additional Covid infections – 9,585 cases.

In the very middle of our drive, in Alabama, Bob and I happened to listen to this administration’s long overdue propaganda report on radio CNN. No wait, it was called a presser of the White House Coronavirus Task Force brought to us by the Department of Health and Human Services. I happened to be driving during a white-out downpour, but I’m pretty sure I NEVER heard Pence (or anyone else) mention the word “mask.” The word Pollyanna jumped to mind.

“But it was also clear that Pence remains locked in a mindset that downplays all bad news about the pandemic. When confronted with the growing death count, he likes to point out the daily total of dead Americans is lower than it was once. When discussing the rise in cases, he said, “Roughly half of the new cases are Americans under the age of 35, which is at a certain level very encouraging news,” because the disease is less deadly for younger people. He avoids the idea that states are experiencing spikes and prefers to discuss localized “outbreaks.” https://www.politico.com/newsletters/politico-nightly-coronavirus-special-edition/2020/06/26/pence-and-the-power-of-positive-thinking-489656

Like the Flapper, Pence must be a big believer in positive thinking. His advice was to pray more, which was laughable except for the fact that he means it. In response to a reporter’s questions about masks, he talked about our constitutional freedom to assemble with or without a “face covering.”  Even the word “mask” is verboten.

Well our Mayor Cooper has taken over the reins in Nashville. Last night, Metro Nashville was debating whether to mandate masks! And lo and behold, masks WON! By tomorrow at 5pm, our personal responsibility for the health and lives of our neighbors will trump (HA) our individual liberty to have your face unmasked. For a Republican state, TN has grown in my affection. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2020/06/26/nashville-require-face-masks-public-coroanvirus-spreads/3266522001/

Here is an old picture of the Bride at Berkshire Medical Center’s ER; she looks to be about the same age as the L’il Pumpkin. Bob was the director of this teaching hospital. On Monday, the Bride will return to her work wearing an N95 mask, treating everybody and anybody who enters her ER. It seems like it was yesterday that she posed for this health  magazine shoot.

If you can’t wear a mask to protect your own loved ones, wear one for mine please.IMG_4843

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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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