What I’ve Learned, So Far, in the Time of COVID-19

I may be older now than the little one pictured above, but I was once that young. Despite the differences in our ages, she and I are both learning. Hopefully, she is still learning about the wonders of the outdoors. The things I’m learning I hope she never has the chance of learning.

This last weekend I attended a writing workshop on the literary essay. It was time well spent. Writing prompts were available in huge numbers, and the words “pandemic” and “quarantine” came up more than once.

One more event via Zoom. The word “together” was used in opening statements from the facilitator. One participant spoke up to say that showing up on each other’s computer screens did not constitute “together.” I have to agree with her. At coffee and lunch breaks, we could not interact and get to know each other. Continue reading “What I’ve Learned, So Far, in the Time of COVID-19”

What Does a Calendar in Covid Time Look Like?

The sun sets, and the sun rises, bringing us a new day.
 
“Where’s your calendar?”
 
Those words request a coming together to check and synchronize our calendars. Three separate calendars need complete synchronicity. There’s the kitchen calendar, Bob’s little black book calendar, and the calendar I carry with me. Neither of us is willing to trust our important engagements to a digital calendar. I do use Google calendar for writing deadlines.
 
Yet, our habit is in the throes of slow death, and it is dying because our calendars are bare. There is nothing to synchronize.
 
Pure white is the color of the squares on the kitchen calendar. Appointments and engagements scheduled pre-pandemic have lines drawn through them. Some are marked “CANCELED;” others “RESCHEDULED.” 
 
Usually, Bob is away from home three nights a week for rehearsals with his bands and church choir. Not now. We marked those plans off our calendars.
 
Once or twice or three times each month we have a concert on our schedules. They all now fall under the categories “canceled” and “rescheduled.”
 
Our major outings are trips to the grocery store, bank, and postal box. We don’t shop in the store; we go there only to pick up what I’ve ordered online. This calls for a short ride to and from the store parking lot. The return trip can take a bit longer depending on the route Bob selects.
 
When banking is needed, Bob makes a short trip to the bank. Likewise, if we need to mail bill payments, Bob gets in the car and drives a short distance to a postal box. Needless to say, we’re saving money on fuel.
 
Our church services live-stream on Facebook on Sunday mornings. Other church-related activities take place via Zoom. I participate in a couple of writing-related Zoom events. One on Saturday mornings for a “coffee gathering.” The other is a workshop on the lyric essay this coming weekend.
 
I text our next-door neighbor to see how they’re doing. Phone calls or texts check on two out-of-town friends. Emails catch up with another out-of-town friend. Social media, primarily Facebook, keeps me on top of family happenings. There is something positive about the Internet and technology after all.
 
I’m hopeful your calendar(s) look busier than ours. Under the current circumstances, I’m uncertain how that could be. When you hear or read the news, the pace seems the same for us all.
 
My purpose in all this rambling? I wanted to commit it to our family history for posterity’s sake to prove it actually happened. When you consider how busy we are, it’s unthinkable that someone would have a blank calendar. Not to mention three!
 

COVID calendar, blank calendar, too busy, lesson learned

Feeling Out of Touch?

Are you feeling out of touch these days? Here in Oregon, our pandemic guidelines label sheltering as “stay at home” since March 23, 2020, “until further notice.” But there are states where residents are no longer sheltering in place, or in what some call lockdown. 
 
But there are some in our communities who live alone 365 days each year. Others live in retirement or assisted living communities and yet live alone. Still, others are, because of disease or illness, isolated from the rest of us.
 
So, let’s think about feeling out of touch. Even though my husband and I live in the same house, there are times we each feel out of touch because of the pandemic. We can hug each other. Or touch the other’s hand. Toss a smile across the room.
 
But we can’t gather with our church family on Sundays or at other times during the week. Yes, we can see them during Zoom meetings and on Facebook Live. But it’s not the same as being able to see them “real time,” or share a hug, or shake hands in greeting. Bob is also missing out on his musical groups and friends. None of his groups — two community bands and our church choir — are meeting.
 
For me, it’s not so difficult as I’ve had a feeling of being out of touch for a while. During my struggle to overcome chronic pain and then surgery, I often felt out of touch. That cut a great hole in my people time.
 
I had friends with whom I met for coffee or tea, and now our only contact is through phone calls or text messages. Oh, how I miss them and our in-person visits. 
 
Our governor held a press conference this morning laying out Phase I of reopening Oregon. Believe me, if what I heard is correct, it’s going to be quite a bit longer than any of us believed or hoped in the beginning. But it isn’t the end of the world as I see it.
 
What I see is in the bigger picture. It’s not about ourselves, but about those with whom we make contact. There is that one person without symptoms who is a carrier of the coronavirus. He/she can infect more than one person in a day. That could mean an uptick in the number of people who contract the virus. 
 
The lesson in the bigger picture is this. As Americans, most of us have achieved much. We are able to live a good life in a safe home located near good schools with a beautiful family. Others of us planned well and live in retirement comfortably. We have no problem buying what we want when we want it. And therein lies the problem. We’ve grown too secure, perhaps even complacent.
 
COVID-19 has settled among us to teach us that we must face a personal slow down. And the slow down isn’t related to contracting the virus. The slow down is and has been imposed on us by our federal, state, and local governments. Is it a punishment? No, it’s a safety measure to save lives. Maybe we can’t eat out, go to movies, plan vacations right now.
 
We need to be patient and life will return to a semblance of the normalcy we once knew. Patience is a hard lesson, and most of us don’t like to practice it.
 
Yet, if we want personal contact with others, patience is the prescription we need right now. As Mary Poppins sings:
 
A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
The medicine go down-wown
The medicine go down
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
In a most delightful way
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Richard Sherman / Robert Sherman
A Spoonful of Sugar lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company
 
Think of that “spoonful of sugar” as your dose of patience daily. If you can take a few minutes, call someone you know who lives alone and brighten his/her day. Write a note or send a card to someone who is always shut-in due to illness. Think about the goodness you have to share with others. Think of others and not so much about yourself. 
 
Above all, hold out hope for the day you hear you can find your semblance of normalcy by getting in touch with others.
 
Quote, Leo Buscaglia, power of touch, smile
 

Featured image attribution: Pezibear from Pixabay 

Not the April I Expected

No, this is not the April I expected. And it’s likely not the April you expected either. 
 
We looked forward to March Madness, an indicator April and spring training are ahead. Golf fans looked forward to the Masters Tournament at Augusta and a chance to see Amen Corner. We wanted to go to church on Easter Sunday. People planned outings to Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm (see image above) for the 2020 Tulip Festival. Sorry, folks, not this year.
 
This is the first time I can remember Holy Week when we haven’t gathered at our church on Maundy Thursday. Nor gather on Good Friday to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary.
 
What happened on Easter Sunday, the day we celebrate Christ’s resurrection? Ordinarily, music by brass instruments and the choir singing start the service. Often there is also a children’s choir somewhere in the service. The singing of beautiful hymns offering the message of Easter is a favorite part of the service for me. This Easter the sanctuary was quiet. 
 
We were told to stay home. After all, we are in an elite age group at high risk in this time of the pandemic. And if not at home, we were to stay at least six feet apart. How do you hold church services under these circumstances?
 
Enter Zoom and Facebook Live. We have been virtually worshipping together since March 15, 2020, a total of seven weeks. I miss gathering with the community of believers at our church, hearing the choirs and musicians, and coffee fellowship after the service.
 
Here we are in the last week of April. All around flowers are blooming. Trees budding, rain showers falling, hummingbirds humming, bees buzzing, and more. It still isn’t the April I expected. 
 
With May arriving on Friday, Oregon’s pandemic guidelines loosed two restrictions. The first is the performing of elective surgeries in hospitals and clinics.
 
Also, dental offices may reopen. Yet, dentists countered by noting the risk to staff and patient. Powerful dental equipment in the mouth forces saliva and moisture into the air. In turn, this increases the risk of spread of the coronavirus. We still have a curve to flatten here and this wouldn’t be helpful.
 
With the departure of April, May sits on the horizon expecting some planting to happen. But currently, with our age keeping us away from nurseries and garden shops, we have nothing to plant. Looks like it will be a late planting this year. It’s a wait-and-see proposition.
 
How about you? Was this the April you expected? And will May meet your expectations? Just something to ponder.

Ponder, Proverbs 4:26, path, beach

 

Featured image attribution: Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm

 

Day by Day

Day by day things are changing in miniscule and massive ways it seems. Especially in this pandemic state we find ourselves living in.  It is like spring changing in small ways day by day. And then one morning the tree outside your window is a burst of color.
 
Blossoms unfurl their petals. Trees turn blossoms into fruit. Grass pushes through the earth to create a bright green lawn. Buds are everywhere. Future blossoms on camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas, peonies, tulips, daffodils, and more.
 
Some of the day by day changes aren’t so lovely as these. Let’s pull out a random change—I pick grocery shopping! Right about now I hate grocery shopping. Since Bob and I fall into an “at risk” category, our state guidelines suggest we stay home. This means ordering online to pickup what we need at Fred Meyer, the local Kroger-owned store. The store seems to have its system well organized and operating efficiently. For me, it is the ordering part that’s driving me a nuts.
 
About the time I have the order ready, something else pops up that we need. I rush to the computer to add it to our list. That happens again, again, and again. Then it’s the hassle of finding an open delivery date and time. Sometimes it can take several days to get locked in. Then the day scheduled for pick up arrives. You receive a text message letting you know what they’ve substituted or didn’t have at all! But the pickup itself is always a pleasant experience otherwise.
 
How much longer do I have to do this? Will I ever grow accustomed to it? It all rests on the restrictions set by our state government as COVID-19 peaks and flattens. We understand the opening of Oregon and its businesses will go slowly based on many matrices.
 
I’ve adopted a day by day process, doing what I can in the hours I’m awake and on my feet. That includes personal matters relating to taxes, estate planning, retirement funds, and more. The “more” includes household chores and cooking rather than writing and social media. AND continuing PT exercises at home.
 
I had wanted to restart my newsletter at the end of March, but didn’t quite focus on it enough to make it happen. For me, there’s a sense of being out of mind and body some days.
 
Coping with a change in the world around us is never easy. We are not always comfortable with change, especially sudden change. Even though life will return to the way it was, or almost, it is hard to accept the now as what some call the “new normal.” This isn’t the normal I want for my life. 
 
Yet penetrating through these days is a light. If we cling to that light, a special Light, we will find our way back to some semblance of what we used to call normal. Life may or may not go back to exactly what it was. My hope is that we’ll be something better than we were before. It’s possible. 
 
Spring flowers can be constant in coloring for two or three years. The next spring they may evolve into a different color. Isn’t it possible to hope we can change for the better?
 
Lam. 3:21-23, Scripture, hope
 
 
Featured image attribution: Phyllis Nagels on Unsplash