Coronavirus Day 38 – otherwise known as the day the Thunderbirds flew over Boulder

This will be the day that will become the center point of my before and after – a new measure of quarantine time for me. The Thunderbirds flew over the Front Range and Boulder had a front row seat. The flyover, that made its way through the state then back to Las Vegas, where it originated, was to honor healthcare workers, first responders, military members and other essential personnel who are working on the front lines to combat covid19. The flight path originated in Colorado Springs at the Air Force Academy graduation then flew over more than 40 medical facilities. A well-spaced, masked crowd began to form in front of the fire station, which luckily happens to be in my neighborhood and even luckier, I just happened to be walking past and noticed the spread out groups of people gathering. It was the perfect vantage point as 2 firemen were stationed on top of the aerial ladder and were keeping watch as we waited patiently. It brought back so many memories of Dad and I at Richard-Gebaur Air Force Base, always on the hottest day of the year, with our heads tilted up to the sky in anticipation of the few seconds of thrill that would pass by in formation. And just like those hot days so long ago that were always worth the longer than anticipated wait, today did not disappoint. In fact, I was caught off guard at how emotional I became. It made me cry to look around and see masked faces, all with our eyes to the sky in hopeful anticipation, stopping everything we were doing to get a quick glimpse of one of the oldest formation squadron fly over head. Like my Dad said after I told him about my day, “Seeing the Thunderbirds makes you stand a little bit taller and a lot more patriotic.” You don’t just watch the Thunderbirds fly overhead, you feel them in your bones and in the depth of your soul. After they passed overhead, I realized I was sobbing, right there in the middle of 13th Street and High and I didn’t care who saw me because I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one. That soul tug lingered and will hover over me during these difficult days and that’s why I’m beginning my blog with it. The Thunderbirds flew over Boulder and became a new marker of before and after for me… a fulcrum of time. It was that important. It wore the silver lining cape today.

My local fire station and the best viewing spot today… (at least in my neighborhood)
Best seat in the house…keeping watch for the Thunderbirds…
A fleeting moment of strength, power and utmost grace as we all looked to the sky in search of what we needed.

Way back when, I could tell you exactly what day of quarantine I was in… 6 days, 10 days, 2 weeks, more than 3 weeks and then one day I didn’t know and had to do the math with an initial check of my phone to see what date I was counting back from. If I didn’t have a phone with the date on it would I think it was March? Or maybe May? The fluidity of time seems to be increasing daily, or is it weekly? I’ve lost that sense of knowing the day because of the “almost the weekend” or “IS the weekend” or is the “weekend wrap up with Sunday” feels. It’s all mushed together now. Weekends, weekdays, all the same. Oddly, and surprising, time seems to be passing quicker than I would have predicted. I guess I’m not bored. I guess that’s good.

Thoughts from quarantine. Anne Frank. Be happy. OK.

I’m beginning to understand the purpose and attraction to my black, stretched out, long overdue for the Goodwill pile, or possibly the trash pile, sweater. My 3 year-old grandson, Arlo, has a blanket he calls his bun-bun (appropriately named as there’s a bunny head in one of its corners) that he’s slept with since he was old enough to have something in his crib with him. It’s his security blanket and what he wants when he goes to bed, when he naps or when he’s hurt. I realized the other day that given that I’ve got multiple options on sweaters or sweatshirts, the black sweater is the one I continually go to. It has become my bun-bun, although unlike Arlo’s bun-bun, mine is used only during waking hours. I think I must have been wearing it on day one of quarantine, March 13, and it offered some sort of comfort and now, a whole bunch of days and weeks later, its still does.

Always standing by and ready for duty.

Animal Kingdom on Mapleton Street continues… I was awakened in the middle of the night, once again, by animal noises in the night. So, after some research, I’ve concluded that I either had a muntjac (a type of barking deer) or a roe deer in either my back yard or my neighbors. I wanted to get up and have a look, but honestly was too tired. The quiet in my neighborhood, both at night and in the morning is becoming increasingly loud. This morning, while awakening to the sound of birds, I realized that I wasn’t hearing car doors slamming or engines staring up or any other typical sounds of life in an urban neighborhood. I like that. I like that a lot. It sounded like I was waking up in a cabin in the woods. Deer aren’t the only ones wandering around my neighborhood. Two mountain lions were caught on camera meandering down the snowy street during the early morning hours – a mere 3 blocks from my house. They eat deer so if those roe deer or muntjacs that I heard a few nights ago want to not become dinner, they best move along. The mountain lions are out. They’re hungry. Run. Run for your lives, deer.

And speaking of sounds in the night…every night here in Boulder, there is howling that starts at 8:00 p.m. and goes on for 5 or 10 minutes. Not wolves this time, but neighbors out on their porch howling to thank the medical personnel and relieve stress at the end of a day of quarantining. It’s a way for people to release pent up emotions while connecting with anyone in earshot. The dogs also seem to be getting in on the fun. I had heard of this, but hadn’t actually “heard” it until a few nights ago when I saw the family across the alley from me all out on their back deck howling, family dog included. The call and response aspect of it feels very Western storyteller-ish and gives feelings of unification. I’ve also heard about alley poetry readings in Boulder at night, (it is Boulder after all…), but feel like my energy is alining more with the howling right now. It’s loud. It’s a release. It’s good for the lungs and the spirit.

We had 18 inches of snow on top of a melting 10 inches of snow from a few days earlier and today I noticed that the middle school aged boys who live behind me (the howlers), have gathered up snow from their yard and have made a nice little ski run on their low deck that goes straight down into their yard. It’s short, but steep. A solid blue run, no turns. I love seeing what people will do around here to improvise for what they can’t do. It also may have been an extended outdoor recess for the parents inside.

More than once in the past few weeks I’ve heard the very dreaded squeak of a low smoke detector battery, a sound that brings on incredible anxiety and feelings of dread and seriously, now??? for me. I have high ceilings, no extension ladders, a respectable fear of heights and am not comfortable with anyone but me in my house right now, so a smoke alarm chirp is a terrible sound. It took a while, but I finally realized that the chirping was coming from someone else’s house and not mine. The someone else being the house of whoever is being interviewed. I know these medical, scientific or political experts have more important things on their plate right now than smoke detector batteries and I’m sorry they are having to deal with the incessant chirping. They must be on the same battery changing schedule as I hear the dreaded sound at least once a day now, thankfully on TV and the very HUGE silver lining, NOT from my house. I’ve got a rough history with those guys including removing and dismantling a unit then smashing it with a hammer when it still wouldn’t stop and even then the chirp continued from the smashed heap. I later learned that batteries will continue to chirp even once dead as a continued warning. A good idea, but seriously…? I’m guessing the land fills chirp.

There’s a whole lot about this month and one week of quarantining that I’ve really liked, starting with lessons in humility and learning how to improvise times 10, simply out of necessity. Cooking comes to mind first. I made stuffed peppers tonite. They were stuffed with peppers, sautéed onions and rice (I was very long on peppers). And no, it wasn’t very good. They looked much better then they tasted but they were good enough and good enough is good enough these days and they were healthy, so there was that. I also made peanut butter cookies for an after treat, so a weak dinner didn’t feel so weak as I had something to look forward to post peppers. I like that the pretenses have been pulled back. We’ve been humbled by this and there is no place to hide. Case in point, I just shared my lame pepper stuffed with pepper recipe to anyone who is reading this, something I would have never done 5 weeks ago as that wouldn’t have happened given that endless opportunities of ingredients would be available to me with a simple run to the grocery store. I’m putting this in the plus category and one I want to carry over. Make do. Improvise. And quit making lists for the grocery store that have 2 things on it, one of them likely not even edible..

Boulder has blessed me with 4 (or has it been 5? maybe 6?) big snows this winter. I’m not driving. I’m at home. I say bring it on, even in April, although I know it may cost me a big tulip show in my back yard that I was anxious to see, tulips planted by the previous homeowner. I know not all people are in agreement with me on this, but I do love the snow. I’ve always equated this to being born in Colorado where my personal barometer was set to higher altitudes with snow. The same day we got 18 inches of snow, I read that Boulder is the snowiest city in the country with a population over 50,000. Holy cow. I’m in snowdrift heaven.

This street next to my house felt like a scene out of “It’s a Wonderful Life” as I was walking the neighborhood during the snow storm.
The blanket of snow totally changes the look of my sidewalk… fluffy with soft edges.
Just a juxtaposition…. that’s all.
My side yard….
Not looking good for these guys….

To add to our FaceTime content, Susan and I have started pulling our trip photo books off the shelf, and one page at a time are reliving vacations. I have made photo books of every major trip I’ve made and Susan’s been on several of those trips with me, so she also has copies of the books. Today, she gave me a heads up before the FaceTime – The Camino, second round, first day. Logroño. Open your book to page one and and prepare. Done. When she called, I was ready. We relived our trip, page by page, memory by memory, all over again. This is the best thing ever to do with an extra hour and books that you glance at multiple times a day (especially while laying on my mat in my zoom pilates class, with prefect view of my book shelves…).

“Remember the hotel lobby where we had potato chips and wine for dinner? Or the time we ran into my friend from MA while in Burgos and you met her with that awkward, “are you going to go European or American with the greeting?” while deciding to go for the cheek kiss and she decided otherwise and somehow you ended up kissing her on the lips? That thing?? Or that amazing meal we had that night, pasta with a side of pasta, but it was all overshadowed by that awkward kiss and that’s all I can think of when I think of Burgos, Spain?

You know. That kind of stuff. For an hour. At least. This is quarantine at its best. Silver lining material that keeps on giving. Good grief. That awkward kiss. I laughed sporadically off and on during today’s walk.

Today’s text book….

My how times have changed… I remember in one of my first coronavirus posts commenting on how awkward it was to see people talking to one another while standing at least 6 feet apart. Today, seeing groups of people NOT giving each other the appropriate distancing, or NOT wearing masks, looks not only odd, but feels disrespectful and rather dangerous. We’ve shifted so much in such a relatively short amount of time. We are far more adaptable than we realize.

I had a special visitor stop by early this evening to share with me his excitement in seeing the Thunderbirds, to which he added, “I don’t know that word, Laurie, so I call them ships.” You can call them anything you want, sweet Arlo, and I will always listen with bated breath

This was the perfect ending to an already very good day but not being able to crawl into that back seat to give Arlo a hug then crawl up to the front seat to give his Mama a hug was a fierce tug at my heart.

These days of isolation and distant togetherness has made it a lot easier to find our soft spot… the things that make us cry, slump with overwhelming sadness, hear things we’ve never heard before, maybe because we forgot to listen, and find the beauty in the details. We are also discovering our limits, our frustrations, our edges and our most vulnerable selves and how we need to help that self while living in times of overwhelming uncertainty. Our soft spot right now is each other, from a distance, but closer than ever.

Keep the closeness, while maintaining distance. Stay at home. Stay safe.

A photo is worth 1,000 words. Here’s my collection that adds up to 10,000 unspoken words. They say more than I can.

This is trust… packages at a local fabric store near me putting the orders on their front table for pick up while the store was locked up.
My 2nd beautiful home-crafted mask, made by my son’s girlfriend, Katie. Can you hug your face? Because that’s what it feels like every time I put it on. Thank you, Katie.
The snow doesn’t last long when the sun is shining.
Less than 48 hours after 18 inches of snow….
Lots of crafts happening behind the homeschool walls…
No explanation needed.
This is a repost from very early days… I took a branch and waited patiently….
It never flowered, but is still on my windowsill and represents something…maybe hope and shifted expectations…?
And finally. This.

Coronavirus One month…..and so it happened. The word month has replaced the word day.

A month. 28 to 31 days. 1/12 of a year. A full billing cycle. A pay cycle. Mentally and physically I prepared for a long two weeks at home and here we are. So, here’s what I’ve got after living in isolation for a month with no trips outside of my house for anything except walking.

Hopefully this won’t be the only one in the post…

Maybe it was the full moon? Maybe it was an astrological shift? Maybe it was a change in the barometric pressure? Maybe it was that I’ve not had “real” human contact in 30 days, but a few days ago I had my hardest day yet. Brooke, Thomas and my sweet one year-old, granddaughter, Lilah, came by so that Brooke could give me the mask she made for me. As with the groceries, we made the awkward delivery/handoff….Brooke sets the goods down and steps back then I make the retrieval, always with an eye on staying safe, for all the “just in cases” we’re taking into consideration now. We then had a nice chat, once she was back in the car with my son and granddaughter, all of us keeping our distance. As awkward as it is, moments like these have become so important to me. She told me she made my mask out of material that I had brought back for her from Ghana exactly 2 years ago. She had set it aside, waiting for an idea of what to do with it when the whole mask wearing came up for us in Colorado several days ago (or maybe it was weeks….I’ve lost track). That’s when I cried. Standing on my little front porch, talking to my kids while they were in their car, wearing my stupid black sweater (my shirt didn’t even have salsa on it either…) and I couldn’t hold it in any longer. The first reaction to a cry, at least in my family, is to intervene with a hug so I know this had to be difficult for them as well as no one could do anything. Added to that, there was the most adorable baby in the backseat that I couldn’t even take out of her car seat and hug or even just grab onto one of her sweet chubby thighs. It’s a very huge thing that is missing when we all need to comfort each other. I’m so touched that this little piece of fabric that came from a street vendor in Ho, Ghana, will now offer another layer of protection when I venture outside of my house. I desperately needed to hug and be hugged before they left, but that’s not possible and that’s why I’ve put this rambling first because it is the most difficult part of this journey for me… the loss of physical contact.

My beautifully crafted mask from Brooke, made from fabric I brought back from Ghana.

I came inside after they left and ate 3 pieces of cinnamon toast, something I’ve not had since I don’t know when, and decided to call it dinner. I know. I’m shaking my head too. It was only my 2nd feeding fail (ok, possibly 3rd…) in a month. I’m calling that a solid B/B-. That “feeding fail” was called self-care. I then proceeded to watch 2 hours of a series on Hulu that was mediocre but had nice shots of Brooklyn and Manhattan. That is also called self-care and is found in the “mindless” category. Also important. I keep check of that kind of behavior though as it can be a slippery slope for me. Self care, yes. Digging myself into a hole and getting so comfortable that I start hauling furniture down there, no.

This has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with coronavirus and self-quarantining, but it is seasonally relevant and so I’m adding it….

From the time I was born and my sister, Robin, was one, and up until we started having strong opinions about what we wore, our Grandma would sew our Easter ensembles. And ensembles they were. Once Susan was born, 4 years after me, she joined in and the 3 of us would either be in identitcal dresses or dresses of the same pattern but different colors. Dresses, light spring coats and the all important hats, purses and gloves (that were purchased “ready made”) made up the look for us every single Easter morning. Our family would make the 45 minute drive from Olathe, Kansas to Pleasant Hill, Missouri where my grandparents lived. We would park our car at their house then walk the short 2 blocks to their church. Without exception, Grandma would forget something and would have to go back to the house, sending our parents ahead. This would always have us arriving late enough that the pews would already be filled when she would escort her three little Easter- themed granddaughters down the aisle to the front row, where Mom and Dad would be holding our place. Our Papa was in the choir, seated at the front of the church, and I assumed that’s why Grandma wanted to sit in the front row, but I wonder now if there wasn’t more to that front row seating choice as it allowed her a much longer distance to parade us down the center aisle of a filled church, our pastel-colored outfits in full view for EVERYONE to enjoy. Mom was the one who figured out the consistent timing of our entrance and the opportunity it gave Grandma to show off her girls in their Easter finery and given that it happened every single year, I think she was right. I can’t blame Grandma, though. She put a lot of work into those little outfits and she was proud to show off the fruits of her labor. She loved her “gally girls” unconditionally and there wasn’t one person in the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church that didn’t know that.

Easter ensembles… right down to the purses and gloves.

Back to coronavirus….

My sister, Susan, reminded me that during our early days of our quarantine, our lists were long and unrealistic. The sky was our limit and we had nothing but time. Our lists were held together with optimism and enthusiasm. I was going to take classes online, write letters, send cards, reorganize my home (OK, I did that…), learn how to play the guitar, dig deeper into my Spanish, knit something, knit something else, learn how to bake bread that doesn’t have bananas in it, read every unread book on my shelves, and put a checkmark next to ever one of those items that were on the never-ending “when I have the time” list. I’ve settled in. We’ve all settled in. The foot is off the accelerator and the car is now idling, but at least it’s still running That’s not to say I’m not accomplishing anything, but I’m just not going at the pace I started with, even with the blog posts. They’ve taken on the same energy as my days… loose, rambling and far more free-form than my original coronavirus post and honestly, more enjoyable for me to write as feelings have taken over facts. They have become a reflection of my energy. Waxing and waning, with an emphasis on the waning. My days run the gamut from productive and energetic to days that feel like I’m operating in slow motion. Getting outside and walking as much as I can really does keep the energy up. Sitting in the comfy chair in my front room listening to Philip Glass, not so much, but both are equally important now.

Last night was the first night since this quarantine began that I haven’t had a sound, sleep through the night, sleep. I was awakened by a howling sound. It took me a moment to realize that I was hearing wolves howl and given that there was a full moon, I made the obvious conclusion. Well, come to find out, via google, wolves do not howl at the moon, but rather, they howl as a territorial warning to other packs of nearby wolves. The phrase “howling at the moon” literally means “you are wasting time and energy trying to do something that is impossible or trying to get something you can not have.” Well that makes sense. They are howling what I/we are feeling during a time of trying to get something we cannot have, at least not yet. My impromptu research on wolves and reporting my findings in my coronavirus post is a confirmation of my sister’s earlier comment that my blog is reflecting my life right now….looser, more free form and a lot more “rambling-ish” today than it was initially. I’m even making up words.

Last night, before the howling, I drove by to see what the “Alice in Wonderland” house looked like in the dark and it was subtle, yet striking at the same time, but what really stood out to me was my short drive over. There were many houses in my neighborhood and the surrounding neighborhoods that have put their Christmas lights back on the house and are lighting them up at night. I also realized that it was the first time I had ventured out of my house at night in over a month and how very strange that felt. Many of the Christmas lights downtown, that are turned off the end of January, are also back on. The message of hope and we’re in this together brought tears to my eyes. This town feels like a big hug to me right now. On a side note, I could count the cars I passed on one hand! I saw skateboarders taking advantage of the empty streets and were enjoying a ride down one of the main streets in town, because they could. It felt like I was driving into a movie set.

The Alice in Wonderland house all lit up. My photo hardly does it justice.

I’m a very visual person. I learned a long time ago that in order for me to thoroughly understand something, I have to see it and not just hear it which has made my morning FaceTime routine with Susan an absolute delight. I can see what she’s wearing, “Oh is that a new sweater?” Or what she’s cooking, “Show me what’s in that pot you’re stirring” and I can return the favor, “See? It really IS 14 inches of snow!” Sometimes the conversations are deep and thoughtful and other times…. well, I’ll let you decide. This morning, I learned that in Susan’s 4-H beginning sewing class they (or I should correct that to “she” as she was the lone participant) made wrist pincushions as a beginning sewing project. Either the leader had no stuffing OR because she had just gotten her haircut, hair was used as the filler to the cushions. Honest to Pete, human hair filling that little cushion that held the pins on your wrist with a piece of elastic. Human hair! And this was the first time I had ever heard the story! I didn’t ask her if she still had that human hair pin vessel but after ruminating on it for 24 hours, I will. Going deep and going long on the family history stories. It could possibly be a silver lining, at least for me.

I talk to my parents daily, who reside in independent living at a retirement facility. They are feeling safe, secure and happy these days, thankfully, and have a director who is excelling in keeping everyone in that mindset. Dad told me that there are several couples that have been separated (before the pandemic) because one of them had to move to the memory care unit. Normally, the person who remained in independent living would go visit as often as they wished, but now, given the lock-down situation, they are no longer allowed to visit their spouse on a different floor. Instead, they write letters. Letters to their loved one, in the same building but a different floor. Stories like these tug at my heart. Many who live at Mom and Dad’s retirement home are veterans from World War II, the Korean War or Vietnam and I’ve got to wonder if there was a time they were writing letters back and forth to the same people during those absences as well.

A friend of mine from school who has been following my blog told me her husband found inspiration for his Easter sermon in one of my posts (he’s a minister) and so on Easter morning, I tuned into his sermon from Indiana, and listened from my kitchen table in Colorado. I was so touched by his mention of my words and the inspiration he found with the simple caption of “Empty” beneath one of my photos. You really never know who or what is going to show up and give you what you need. Thank you, Jan and Mark Holland. After listening to the sermon, I sat at my kitchen island (now an impromptu art studio) and painted, alternating between rock and roll favorites and Philip Glass in the background, while watching the snow pile up outside, ending up with over 8 inches. I later took a short walk around the neighborhood, ghostly quiet and hauntingly beautiful as the snow continued to fall. It’s eerie to see the streets so empty and quiet, yet at the same time, it gives me a real sense of calm. Maybe it was the snow piling up outside, or the many memories I have of Easters past at my grandparents, that made it such a soul tugging, inspiring and creative day for me. When the song, “Just For a Moment, Let’s Be Still,” (by The Head and the Heart) came on, the words struck me as if I was hearing them for the first time even though it’s a constant on one of my playlists. The gift of insight that comes with stillness is immeasurable.

“The world’s just spinning

A little too fast

if things don’t slow down soon

we might not last.

So just for the moment, let’s be still.”

These are the words I’ve been living. The same words I’ve heard countless times yet heard for the first time on Easter, 2020.

Several years ago, I had a photography teacher to explain to me what he thought was the greatest challenge in capturing the perfect (or better yet, imperfect) image on film. He gave an answer that hovers in the back of my mind every time I pull my camera or phone out to capture a shot.

“With photography, you start with infinity and have to decide what you’re going to crop out and what you’re going to leave in to give the subject the most impact.”

In other words, you’re cropping out all of the unnecessary noise. That’s exactly what it feels like I’ve been doing for this past month. Although the feelings of anxiousness, sadness, loneliness and fear have been a part of the fabric of my daily life, I’m finding that the moments that fill my soul and energize my creativity are just as prevalent. I’ve cropped out the noise and have brought what’s important into focus. I’m hopeful that once this has all passed, I’ll be able to keep my focus on what really matters and let the rest go and that I’ll remember not only the words I wrote but the feelings that inspired the words.

Month one. In the books.

Stay safe. Stay home.

All the fire hydrants were donning foot high top hats (Why is it green??)
and absorb it all… the quiet, the peace…
Boulder looks good in snow.
I walked for an hour in snow that eventually measure over 13 inches but the streets and sidewalks were clear due to warmer temperatures two days earlier. The streets were quiet, empty, beautiful and peaceful.

And finally…. this. This very silver lining.

Coronavirus Day 27 – Spoiler alert. It’s kind of like Day 26 (which is why one post can cover several days…)

Spring happiness. Snow is on it’s way, so have to enjoy these beauties now.

Here we go again…. that feeling that comes to me every morning the minute I wake up. It’s feels heavy and I know how easy it would be to get tangled up in its clutches, but I can’t emotionally afford to do that right now. I don’t have anyone under my roof to tell me to “snap out of it”….and so here we go again, and again.

Keeping an eye out for the positives continues to be a silver lining for me. Here are my finds from the past few days, with some random thoughts mingled in.

I’ve found freedom in not having plans yet feel trapped if I don’t come up with some sort of plans or loose structure on a daily basis, which pretty much look the same, Sunday through Sunday.

  • Walking, now twice a day
  • Writing and reading
  • Painting (my paints weren’t able to make the move so I’m improvising with water colors and am kind of teaching myself on that front)
  • Spanish – new vocabulary…. pandemic, contagious, global economy, chaos, crisis…and so on.
  • Teaching myself guitar with an app (I’ve not done that since high school, less the app, of course).
  • Pilates on the mat 5 days a week via zoom
  • Communication with friends and family via phone, FaceTime or zoom
  • and finally, Netflix or Hulu to round out the day.
  • Oh and of course feeding myself, which hasn’t exactly kept up with my earlier visions of pots simmering on the stove while I wait for bread dough to rise. I need to work on that one.

I can’t help but think back to a conversation I had with my sister while in my car in a very packed grocery store parking lot, ironically, on Friday the 13th of March. We were talking about stocking up on items with 2 weeks at home in mind (I’ve not been inside a public place since, and that was the day I started my count). It still felt a bit reactionary to me, even though half of Boulder appeared to be on board as per the crowded state of the grocery store, Target and liquor store parking lots. I also remember talking about the “whole hand sanitizer situation” (noted in my first coronavirus post), and felt that maybe people were getting ahead of themselves on that one yet curious and nervous at the same time as to why I wasn’t of the same mindset. Had I missed something? Was it possible that these were the same people who run to the grocery store to buy massive amounts of food because of an impending snow storm forecast? That’s what I was thinking with all the “panic buying” but still, I felt like I had missed something as I didn’t seem to have the same sense of urgency that every one else had. I followed suit though and bought dried beans in bulk, rice, pasta, jars of marinara sauce, cans of tomatoes and broth, filling in with a few other more interesting items such as pancake mix, chocolate, crackers, pretzels and other salty snacks.. I would totally rethink that now if I was doing the shopping today as I’ve not used any of the beans or rice but the pasta and jars of marinara are long gone along with anything that would be housed in the “snack aisle.” I’ve been blessed with a daughter- in-law and a daughter who have been so kind to shop for me every week or 10 days from a list I provide. Giving someone else a list to do your shopping has shown me how much I buy on impulse, ie the stuff that goes first. I’m eating much healthier as I’m not the one walking past the candy, the potato chips or the section of the dairy aisle where the onion dip lives – all spots where I have a history of weak moments. Cooking from the pantry and not from a recipe, which usually involves too many trips to the store, has become a creative challenge for me. I don’t seem to have that natural ability to put things together in an unexpected way or any way that doesn’t have the look of chili, pasta or stir fry on rice. Those with the talent are killing it right now. Me, not so much, but I’m not hungry so there’s that positive.

Back to food. Banana bread. It’s still a bit of a problem over here (portion control), but fortunately or not fortunately, I have no bananas nor did I put any on my list for Brooke last week, simply because I can’t walk enough to counter the problem I seem to have with the thickness of a slice and the amount of butter that gets slathered on the bric-sized wedge. Brooke reminded me of a story regarding banana bread when she dropped off my groceries as we stood on opposite sides of my small yard and talked. She said one of the first times she met me, she and my son, Thomas, had come over and I had just taken 2 loaves of freshly baked banana bread out of the oven. Thomas told her I baked a lot of banana bread back when they were kids and it was a go to for me in the kitchen. This was back in the day when I was buying a lot of bananas and had kids that wouldn’t eat them after the slightest bit of ripening began, so I’d freeze them to use later for bread, leaving me with a continual reserve in the freezer. She said I opened the microwave (likely to heat my coffee) and there sat the thawed bananas that were intended for the bread, the bread that sat baked and cooling on my countertop. The banana-less banana bread, or more accurately, the dry cake. To that I had to add that I’ve found the bananas, more than once, in the microwave midway though the loaves bake time and yes, I pulled them out and mashed them into the partially cooked bread while still in the oven . I’m not a good baker. I’m not even a mediocre baker, but I do love banana bread and I do pretty well with it, provided I remember to put the bananas in. I’m blaming my struggles with portion control on living alone and not having to share it with 4 other people. I’m blaming all my portion control on that.

Predictably, this didn’t end well….

People are nesting. We have the time and we’re spending a lot more time in our nests. During my walks I see picket fences getting a fresh coat of white paint, driveways and garages being swept out, windows being washed,, exterior walls of houses being painted and flower beds being cleaned out and weeded to make way for spring blooms. The neighborhoods look like they are all waiting for company. I’m sure if I could get a whiff of inside smells, I’d smell bread baking. Brooke said that both the flours…” flour” and “flowers” – were in short supply at the store. People are taking care of themselves in whatever manner possible. I’m guessing the bananas were also running low. Not all of us can make bread from scratch, unless it’s banana bread, which I see as the opportunity for all of us non-bakers to get in on the nurturing love of bread baking just like the more seasoned bakers who know their way around yeast packets and rising dough without question.

I’m so touched by the way people are connecting and saw a story on the news about a grade school teacher coming to the house of a student who was struggling with something in her online math class. There was a photo of the teacher standing outside of the glass front door of his student’s house using a piece of poster board and a marker to explain the problem. This girl may well start to love math (or at least not be afraid of it) simply because of this kind and generous act. .

Come as you are. Although I’ve always gravitated towards that style of dress, I’m getting very comfortable with it now. Maybe more comfortable than I should be. While walking late yesterday afternoon, I glanced down to notice a salsa stain on the front of my shirt near the spot where your chin would land if, for example, you were leaning into a plate of nachos. That was a paired up with a pair of animal print leggings with a hot glue incident on the front of them from when I was attaching arms to small wooden angels during week one. To top off the look, I added a bulky, stretched out of shape, black sweater that had seen better days. It wasn’t a good look. Seconds after making that observation, I passed one of Emery’s friends and her husband out walking – both in shorts and short-sleeved shirts looking very fresh and bright. I’m wearing this, I thought? Really? And what’s with the sweater? It’s warm out. Oh yeah, it is doing its job with the salsa stain cover up. I won’t even mention my hair, which hasn’t seen a trim in 4 months and growing. Literally. Even worse, (or better??), I wasn’t devastated. I wasn’t anything. Roll with it and come as you are. I’m fine. You’re fine. We’re all fine. And slippers are fine too.

I was texting a dear friend of mine from Kansas City this morning and she told me she had been walking every day with another good friend of mine in Kansas City. I had to wonder if that was OK, given the social distancing and all but she was quick to explain that they are walking on OPPOSITE sides of the street, shouting to each other when they have something to say. Is it possible to smile and shed a tear at the same time? Yes, it most definitely is possible. Keep walking girls. I’m right there with you, 650 miles to your west.

I had a dream last night that I was flying and lost my vision mid-flight and had to figure out when to begin my descent to land. Amazingly, and with great relief, I made a perfect landing and once the wheels hit the runway, my vision returned. Then it happened again, same plane, same loss of sight (seriously… I question my judgement question my in getting back into the same plane, but that’s a dream for you..) But this time it felt different as I was terrified, which makes sense because seriously, what could be scarier than landing a plane without sight? I felt like I had a front row seat to my fate, all in very slow motion. I didn’t make it to the airport and crashed in a field then immediately woke up. Flying blind. Literally. My dreams are painting the picture that I don’t want to look at during my waking hours.

The hard thing about wearing a mask, which most people in my neighborhood are doing, is that it’s hot and cumbersome but worse than that, I can no longer see the smiles on the faces I pass nor can they see mine. Waves are now our replacement to the smile. The only time I’ve ever pulled up my buff kerchief to cover my nose and mouth as I’m doing now, was to avoid swarms of black flies while hiking in the Adirondacks with my sister, Susan. But wear it I will, cumbersome as it may be. When we are given the “it’s OK to come out now and leave your masks behind,” we will all be sporting coronavirus tans – the same as a ski tan, only upside down.

Pull up a seat for a better look. Definitely a more is more decorating scheme.
Smiles no longer visible, but they are still there.

I’m mourning the death of Bill Withers and would play “Lean on Me” on loop all day if it didn’t make me so sad. Between his soul stirring music and the interviews with medical staff, I’m getting in some good cries on a near daily basis. With Bill Withers in the background, I made a kale and roasted fingerling potato salad with a lemon tahini dressing. Maybe I’m creative after all in the kitchen and I just wasn’t listening to the right music. Rest In Peace, Bill Withers. Your music feels more timely now than ever.

And finally, to all of my friends who are reading this while sitting alone in your house, I hear you. Boy, do I ever hear you and as much as I keep telling everyone, “Oh I’m fine….,” because, really, I am, it’s not easy to go without human contact closer than at least 6 feet away for 27 days. I’ve learned a lot about myself these past 27 days. I know that I need to create, in one form or another, and get outside every single day. It keeps me out of the shadows, that can get pretty long these days. I’ve also discovered that I’m a good roommate. I pick up after myself, cook nourishing meals (sliding scale…) and am kind of fun as I enjoy a good solo dance party on a regular basis. If this sounds like I’m posting an ad for a roommate, you need not apply, as I’m a good roommate but only for myself right now. I miss people. I miss them a lot. I suppose that’s why the small gesture of eye contact and a wave have meant so very much to me lately. Still, when I do the math, the happy and content days are winning. Writing this blog helps tremendously.

Instead of “I’m stuck at home,” I like this better…..

“I’m safe at home.”

Stay safe and continue showing each other love in any way possible. It’s amazing, humbling, inspiring and so very comforting to see. And we all need it. More than ever now.

This is the same house I posted a photo of on coronavirus day 13…. I spoke with the homeowners yesterday, both artists, and they said they were going to try and change it once a week, simply to bring some happiness to the neighborhood and those who walk by. They were so interesting to talk to and I said I really appreciated the work as it sure put a smile on my face. To that the man responded…”oh, this is NOT work!” Of course I’ll be making a weekly pass by now… and will post as it changes.
Most of the materials are recycled odds and ends and there is white curling ribbon stretched throughout that makes an interesting sound when the wind hits it. It also lights up at night so I may need a little field trip this evening!
Itty, bitty gardens…
Good use for a dead tree… there were all sorts of critters peeking out from the trunk…
Sign of the times… face masks on the car dash…
I learn something new about my neighborhood and Boulder every time I walk. I love this home’s nod to history and their family.
I may be mismatched when I go out to walk, but at home I always match.

Coronavirus Day 19 – The day I lost my mojo.

Change of perception.

Now I know. 19 days seems to be my limit. But it’s not time to come out yet. Not time to hug my kids, my grandkids, my family or my friends. Not time to go places, have plans, take classes, eat at restaurants or book travel. It’s simply not time yet. And so I’ll keep on going, like everyone else, and will dig deeply into my reserves for inspiration, motivation, distraction and a whole lot of other stuff that ends in a “tion.”

So here are my thoughts and ramblings for today. I’m not long on the silver linings, but know they will return soon…

I’m tired but my Fitbit keeps insisting that I’m getting the best sleep I’ve ever had since I started wearing the contraption. And that makes sense as I am sleeping long and hard and am dreaming with an intensity that I’ve never experienced before. I suppose it is during my nighttime hours that I’m dealing with the emotional aspect of all of this. Who knew I would need such a crisis to get such a good night’s sleep? That, right there, is my biggest silver lining today. And the one I appreciate greatly right now.

Seeing the creativity of social connectedness during this time of distancing courtesy of Zoom and FaceTime is nothing but amazing. Meetings, exercise class, connecting with family and friends and one of my favorites yet, symphonies playing separate, yet together. It is just one more thing that has brought me to tears, which seem to fall at the drop of a hat these days. So creative. So touching. So necessary. We are using what we have and have gone above and beyond with making the best of it.

There are no “wrongs” when it comes to self care. If I need to lay on the couch and watch 2 hours of bad TV while finishing off a half a loaf of banana bread, then that’s what I’m going to do (2 days ago). Thankfully, I don’t seem to be able to wallow in that spot long and the next day, I walked 2 hours and even impressed myself with the meals I made. Self care for me is about listening to what I need and doing a prompt follow through, whatever that may be. With the exception of a few bad days, I’m staying on the healthy side, both physically and emotionally.

I got notification that my screen time was up 98%. Given that it is my “lifeline” right now, and 99% of my communication, I’m surprised the number wasn’t a lot higher. I can’t begin to count the many times I’ve given thanks for the internet and a decent signal.

Today when I was out walking, I held a sneeze for as long as I could to insure I had enough distance between myself and the man I had just passed. I’m not worried whatsoever that I have the virus, but was more worried that my sneeze would either scare him or show an incredible amount of disrespect. I have no idea who the man was but have no doubt, he would have done the same for me. We all continue are finding our footing around our new self-imposed rules of respect. Not at all bad.

I have a correction on the peanut butter crispen appetizer that I’ve referred to in earlier coronavirus posts. I did some investigative research yesterday and was able to find the episode of “That Girl” where the appetizer, that I’ve referred to for decades, originated. They were actually a little more exotic than I remembered… “stuffed” peanut butter crispens… made from corn flakes, not the wheaties as previously mentioned. I feel it’s important to not put incorrect information out there. Oh, and by the way, watching “That Girl,” some 5 decades later did not disappoint. Then again, I have to consider how low my TV viewing bar may be at this point. Chances are very good that I’ll be tripping over it by the end of the week…

While out on my “explore Boulder” walk today, the thought occurred to me of how interesting it would be if we could actually SEE the coronavirus. For instance, when walking up and down the aisles of the grocery store, you’d be able to spot where the virus had landed. In my version, not unlike the photos we’re seeing, the virus is red. A small yet visible touch of red on several of the cans of soup that were picked up then returned with a change of mind, a smear of red on the loaf of bread that sits in the vulnerable spot on the edge of the shelf and the solid red glow around the edge of the deli counter, the credit card swipers, and the door handle. Obviously, if we could see the virus, we wouldn’t be in the predicament we are now given that its invisibility is our greatest challenge. Long walks during stressful times bring on some interesting thoughts that I’d normally just let slide but am now letting percolate a bit because why not?

Just like everyone else, including my friends who live outside of the US borders, I’m afraid, I’m anxious and I have moments of feeling so overwhelmed that I simply have to stop and do what I know to take care of myself, whether that is walking, meditating, writing, painting or stacking and sorting all of the stuff I own. The good news is these low spots only last a day and are followed by days that I’m inspired and even motivated. The emotional pendulum swings from melancholy to merry with a whole lot of anticipation in the middle, but thankfully, I’m familiar with the patterns now and can anticipate those low moments are prepare accordingly. I also have an incredibly strong support system with my family. There was a time several years ago, when I was living in a suburb of Kansas City and both of my sisters lived out of state. In an odd set of circumstances, I found myself with both parents in the hospital, unfortunately, different hospitals and even more unfortunate, hospitals that were an hour apart. When my sisters asked what they could do to help me, I said,

“Answer the phone when I call.”

And they did. Every. Single. Time. And now it’s FaceTime that I’ve asked them to answer and they have. Every. Single. Time. I need the connection, even more than ever now.

And speaking of connection…given that I don’t have many here in Boulder outside of my family…. yet….there is an odd sense of comfort knowing that most of my town is now doing the same thing that I’m doing, and have done for a while – staying home with no plans. I’ve chatted more with neighbors these past few weeks (from afar, of course) than the 7 months since my move in August and we’ve all talked about getting together when this is over. Go figure. I’m connecting in my isolation. I would not have predicted that. Chalk up another point in the silver lining column.

Given the quarantine situation and the closing of salons, I can’t help but be reminded of my decision to stop dying my hair 5 or 6 yeas ago, or my roots more specifically. My hair grows very fast and by now, I’d be sporting a 1/2 inch white stripe down my part had I not made that decision. 10 years ago, during my dye days, I spent 6 weeks in Perú. I was so worried (and vain) about my roots that I brought ONE box of hair dye with me and carefully chose the exact time to use it as I only had one chance. I locked myself in the tiny bathroom that was shared by many others, while I sat on the toilet with dye on my hair, staring at my watch and wishing for the 15 minutes to pass faster. I’m sure no one thought that much of it as so many of us were getting sick and I’m sure they just assumed I had also succumbed to a bit of the “Peruvian flu” myself. Did I really think no one was going to notice the missing white stripe on the top of my head the next day? And why didn’t I just say I’m going to go dye my hair so if you need the facilities now would be a good time? Vanity does strange things to you. Now, if I was still doing that, I’d likely ask for some assistance for the hard to reach areas in the back. At any rate, with the many funny memes of bad haircuts and failed home dye jobs, I’m glad to have one less thing to worry about on that front. We will all emerge, whenever that may be, as our TRUE selves when this is over, some of us more anxious than others, and will wait our turn in line for hair cuts, root cover ups, manicures, pedicures and the like. I’d like to say that I’ll continue in the manner I’ve become accustomed to these past almost 3 weeks, but who am I kidding? You’ll find me in the massage and facial lines but only after the haircut line.

I’ve grown a lot since this began and remember FaceTiming my sister on day 2 in tears wondering how in the world I was ever going to be able to do this alone. Now, what seems like 147 days later, I can see how far I’ve moved from my starting point during those early days. I have tremendous pride and gratitude for where I am emotionally right now and that continues to grow. The time will come, at some point, when we will talk about this time with “remember when we couldn’t leave the house for ______ of days and we FaceTimed or zoomed multiple times a day?” My biggest thought now is that I hope that’s not followed by “I wish we were still doing _____ or ______.” I’m trying to make note of the positive changes that the isolation has made with the hopes that there is a carry over long after we’ve come out of our houses and have hugged those that we love and heck maybe some random strangers too, because we’ve all missed hugging so much. Or at least I have…

“Sometimes love doesn’t look like what you had in mind.” Anne Lamott.

So very true.

Keep the distance and the positives…

The optical illusion of this wall fascinate me…
More painted buildings…the front…
and the side.
And my grocery store…
Everything is cancelled. I walked around the CU campus today and didn’t see another soul. Such an eerie opportunity to have the place to myself!
Eerily empty campus and stadium.
She seemed nice, but didn’t respect the 6 feet of physical distancing…
More empty.