Coronavirus Day 51. A lot of days.

Day 51, but who’s counting? I guess I am. The numbers seem kind of irrelevant though now as I feel like I’ve been in this pattern for long enough that the absurd has become the normal. Case in point, when I see photos of people standing next to each other I’m a bit stunned. Old photos, no doubt, but was it really that long ago when we gathered in groups, touched arms with people we knew or didn’t know while in line at the grocery store with strangers? When we said “excuse me” because we bumped into someone, actually touching bodies, in a narrow store aisle? Or stood shoulder to shoulder for a photo? Or actually embraced? That time seems like a very long ago to me.

My moods have waxed and waned – probably more waning than waxing the past few weeks and I know I’m not alone with that. The novelty of our daily reality has worn off and although I’m not sitting around bored and am spending a great deal of my day outside walking or in some sort of creative modality, the absence of having physical connections to other people is huge. The theme I’m living now would be inspiring for a solo retreat and no doubt I’d be intrigued by its description – maybe something like “exploring your inner soul, by yourself, while tapping into your creativity and nature.” (and in the fine print “You’re on your own for cooking, entertainment, and whatever you want to fill your day with but we will provide WIFI and internet….) I don’t think I would sign up for the 51 day package though….14 days, maybe, with the possibility of an add on weekend.

My walking has increased and I’m easily getting in 5 or 6 miles a day, every day. It’s been a real gift in getting to know my neighborhood, and beyond, and I’ve discovered so many interesting pockets that I doubt I never would have without the restrictions that we’re all under. I was riding bikes with my son a few days ago, and was able to point out curiosities and cool houses that he said he had never seen before. When you pay attention, I mean REALLY pay attention, it’s truly amazing what you can see. My walks have become a bit like an Easter egg hunt for me – always searching for the positive, the creative, the quirky and the memorable. Today’s memorable moment was a couple I passed while walking around a nearby lake. He was using a white cane, so I assumed he was blind and the woman with him had a gentle, yet directive, hold of his arm. As I passed them, I overheard her saying,

“We’re going to stop in a minute so I can tell you about all the flowers that are around us.”

Tell you about the flowers….” something about that touched me. I would have loved to have heard her describe the flowers but thought it would be too creepy of me to turn around and follow them, close enough to hear her words, yet far enough to maintain a safe distance. Gratitude presents itself far more now that I’m paying attention.

The saying that your body speaks its mind has come into play full tilt in my life during the past 2 weeks. I’ve developed an odd, very itchy rash on both of my arms. No where else, just the arms. I’ve not changed soaps, lotions, food or detergents (I’ve not gone to the store so have proof positive of that!) and yet this rash appeared from what seems to be out of nowhere for me and right in the hugging spot of my arms. I’ve dealt with pretty severe cases of poison ivy but this isn’t poison ivy or poison oak or any of the other poisons that can wreak havoc on the skin. My conclusion was that my arms hadn’t hugged in close to two months, and no doubt that takes a toll on the emotional body, but I have to believe that the physical body isn’t left out. I don’t feel stressed, and have to say that I have far more good days than bad, but who am I kidding? Of course I’m stressed! I’ve not had human contact in almost 2 months and we are social animals. We need physical contact. A few days, several days, one week or even two, but 2 months is too long to be alone, without any physical contact. I’ll spare you the photo on this one, but you’ll have to trust me. I’ve been in long sleeves since and we’ve had a few days in the mid 80’s, definitely not long sleeved weather. It looks that bad.

After seeing my rash (via face time), my daughter, Emery, insisted that I come over to the house to celebrate my grandson, Arlo’s, 3rd birthday, which happens to fall on my firstborn, Thomas’s birthday, the following day. She said we will do a joint celebration, while honoring physical distancing etc. I told her I wasn’t sure Arlo would understand that he couldn’t hug me and she said that’s fine. You both need to hug each other. And so yesterday, I celebrated Arlo and Thomas’ birthday, played out in the field behind their house, marveled at my 3 grandchildren (ages 3, 1 and 6 months) and felt the greatest joy I’ve felt in a very, very long time – at least 50 days, all of that preceded by a long time simply hugging. When I got out of my car, Arlo ran up to me, jumped into my arms, hugged me and laid his head on my shoulder. I sobbed… tears of joy, relief and confirmation that yes, the stress has been real. I had just started to reach for my mask to put it on when this happened but forgot about the mask and continued with what felt like real life to me. Familiar, hugging, no masks, no distancing. Emery said that she thought even Governor Polis would agree that this gathering and embracing of people, none who had left their houses in over a month was not only fine, but necessary. Thomas and Brooke and 1 year-old Lilah arrived a few minutes later and when Brooke got out of the car, she looked at us all bunched together with raised brows and a big smile said,

“Are we doing this?”

Yes. We’re doing this. More hugs. More embraces. More tears for me.

I didn’t come bearing gifts for my son or grandson, we didn’t eat birthday cake (it was 10:00 in the morning) and we didn’t even sing “Happy Birthday” (they would do that later with cake and candles), but it was the most wonderful celebration of birthdays and family and love that I’ve experienced in a very long time. I only wish Grant and Katie could have been there as well, but they did check in on Zoom. I realized that the celebration didn’t need the cake or the presents or the ceremony that usually happens but rather it was the love that carried us and made it one of the most celebratory moments I’ve ever experienced. I felt like I had been holding my breath for 51 days and finally, yesterday, I got to exhale and boy did it ever feel good. I told my kids it was the first time I’ve felt a sense of normal in close to two months. That’s a long time. Too long.

We will return to social distancing and will likely wear masks the next time, as Boulder is lifting restrictions in a week, which means we will have to be even more careful as we will be venturing out and coming into contact with others. Bending (or breaking?) the rules a bit yesterday became very necessary for all of our well-being. Oh, and the rash? It hardly itched at all yesterday and today, I have hope for the first time in over 2 weeks, that it’s on its way out. How can I NOT make a connection between the rash and the lack of hugging? Especially given that it only presented itself on my arms and no where else. A dermatologist would likely give me the diagnosis of “contact dermatitis” (which a dermatologist once told me simply means they have no idea…) and they would probably be right, but I can’t discount the role that stress and lack of human contact have played. *Note to anyone googling skin conditions…. heed the warnings. The photos are indeed disturbing…

These are stressful times and whether through sleepless nights, nervous stomach, headaches or a rash on the arms, it is showing up, one way or another, in our physical bodies. I’m just glad I was able to get the medication I so desperately needed yesterday – hugs. Lots of them. As I was hugging Arlo, he looked up at me and asked me if my arms still hurt ( Emery must have told him my arms “hurt”) and I answered,

“Not any more, Arlo, now that I’m hugging you.”

And his tight hug back was just about the best thing I’ve ever felt.

This. This I had missed so much.
Paying attention.

Boulder is FULL of art, and not necessarily in galleries. I know I’ve posted a lot of painted walls, fences, buildings and just when I think I have to have found them all in my neighborhood, I find more. Yesterday I read that Boulder is #3 in the country for creativity for small cities. I have no idea how they come to those numbers, but from what I’ve seen, it does make sense. Here are several from my past few walks.

These were actually outside shades on windows of the Boulder Museum. I wondered why I had never seen them before as I pass by often. I guess they weren’t down.

And finally, my banana bread game has never been stronger. I use a different recipe every time I make it and have found my keeper. I’ve also gotten much better at portion control and am eating it like a normal person, a few slices at a time, (albeit on the thick side). I’m into day 3 on my last loaf and have to say I’m feeling a sense of pride that it’s lasted that long. I read yesterday that banana bread has been the most baked item during quarantine (again, how do they come up with those numbers????). Who would have thought so many of us would be sharing comfort in a mixture of over-ripe bananas, flour, sugar, eggs and spices? Happy to be with the masses on that one.

Stay safe and when you leave home, be even safer.

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.

Coronavirus Day 16 – TGIF

Today I stayed off the streets and walked the alleys…not because the streets are busy, but just for something different…

TGIF, or more accurately, TGIFOADFTM – ” Thank God It’s Friday Or Any Day For That Matter,” but that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. And it’s not even Friday, but who cares? Every day pretty much seems like the last at this point, which makes it hard to settle into the normal waxing and waning of the week that most people live by – you know the Mondays representing new starts (who starts a diet on a Wednesday?) rolling into Fridays, which begin a different mindset all together, with Wednesday’s hump day connecting it all. My Tuesdays are pretty much the same as my Saturdays or Sundays now. That distinctively different energy from the weekdays to the weekends is gone. Now, all days seem the same.

Here are my observations and silver linings that I’ve noticed these past few days, with some random thoughts for good measure.

I notice that even though the physical distancing continues when I’m out walking, with distances getting larger by the day it seems, I hold my breath when someone passes me. I’m guessing this is an instinctual reflex more than anything else. Now that it’s come to my attention though, I can’t stop doing it.

I’m enjoying the self-nurturing that’s been taking place under my roof. I’m feeding myself so much better these days, not only because all of the “not so healthy” snacks are long gone, but also because with little else to do, I’m putting a lot more thought and energy into the meals I’m making. It’s giving me a nurturing sense of comfort. Evidently I’m not alone. Stores are having a hard time keeping yeast and flour other shelves as there’s been an upsurge in bread baking.

After talking to a dear friend of mine recently, who cut her hand while cooking (thankfully, she was up to date on her tetanus shot and didn’t need stitches), I realized how important it is now more than ever, to stay healthy and without injuries. I carry those thoughts along with on every walk. No goofing off, Laurie. Now’s not the time.

Procrastination tendencies seems to expand in relation to the “to do” list… the shorter it is, the more I procrastinate. Case in point, I’ve got 2 forms I need to scan and send to my accountant but just can’t seem to get it done…. because I don’t have the time???? Next week. Maybe Monday. Yeah, Monday will probably work. I will do it on Monday! I accomplish a lot more when I’m busy. I am not busy now, although oddly, my days seem filled.

I estimate that at least half of my day is filled with communication… FaceTime, emailing, phone calls and even a letter or two that I’ve written. That’s been a lovely gift. I’m talking/texting/FaceTiming with friends on a far more regular basis. THAT I hope remains long after the quarantine ends.

Pilates on the mat via Zoom has become my almost daily routine and definitely a big part of my social life. There’s a new teacher, who most of us haven’t yet met in person yet, who told us that although she’s never met us face to face, she knows what many of our bedrooms and living rooms look like now. There’s a comforting kind of intimacy in that as she’s coming to US for the pilates classes rather than us going to her via the studio. My pilates on the mat is a big part of my day now. Thank you, Bolder Pilates.

A few days ago, I staged my own little tribute to Kenny Rogers and had an afternoon all Kenny all the time. I’ve got a lot of good memories in those songs. I can’t say I didn’t bust out a few moves on a few of them. The freedom to do what I want, dance parties and themed days included, has me wondering why I don’t do that every day. I may have to carry this over to the “post quarantine days.” (My list of carryovers post quarantine days is lengthening…) I’ve got Jane Goodall’s birthday on deck next week…

I realized last night when I was stacking up my dinner – grain, vegetables, greens, some sort of dressing, possibly topped with nuts, all stacked up, that this type of meal preparation wasn’t a first for me. When I waited tables at Steak n’ Ale in the early 80’s, the employees had to pay for their meals (a discounted rate, but it was still money out of our not very full pockets). What was free, however, was the bread, the rice and the salad bar. The interesting “casseroles” that came out of being both creative, hungry and poor were pretty amazing starting with the base of rice or bread then stacked with veggies from the salad bar, topped with cheese then given to the cooks to heat up. My friend, Vickie Rhodes, was so clever in her dishes that I’m surprised Steak n’ Ale didn’t reformulate some of them for a lunch or dinner special. Yep, I’m stacking my dinners now in the old Steak n’ Ale tradition. The big difference now is not having to eat it in the smoke-filled back room of the kitchen. Thankfully.

The beauty of cleaning out closets… I knew exactly where to find this sad photo of me in my Steak n’ Ale garb…

Bad news seems to be piling on daily and shoulders seem to be broadening at the same pace to absorb it all. A short 2 weeks ago, one piece of any of the news we’re hearing daily would have felt far more devastating on its own than the constant outpouring of bad news we’ve become used to. It’s a bit of a “bring it on” mentality at this point. I’m by no means saying that it’s easy when new stats are presented to us but rather, it’s just something that I’m becoming accustomed to, hard as it is to hear. I know what the lead in story on the news is going to be and likely the story that will fill most of the time slot. My stomach still drops and the fear and sadness still permeate but I know what to expect now. I’ve learned by default the importance of emotional self care. Meditation. Journaling. Writing this blog. All have been tremendous tools for me right now. Thank you for reading.

This was by far the cutest thing I saw during my walk…
This was by far the most creative thing I saw and had me lingering the longest…
This was the most generous thing I saw… (cherry blossom twigs that were almost gone…)
I carried this one home… thankful for the stranger’s generosity.
This was the most “timely” thing I saw (I’m guessing it fell out of a pocket or a pack as it wasn’t empty and yes, I did think about picking it up, but then thought otherwise…
This was the most colorful wall I saw…
This was the most heartwarming thing that I saw..

And something that made me smile.

My walks are my sanity, my inspiration and my connections to everything outside of my own four walls and have become a necessity of my day. Besides some good exercise, I’m getting to know Boulder so much better and every day discover pockets of this very interesting town that I’ve never seen before. Thankfully, the weather has been on my side, almost every day of the 16 days so far.

Stay safe. Stay motivated. Stay creative. And stay home.

Coronavirus Day 13 – Random, disjointed thoughts

Random, disjointed thoughts.

This is hope.
These small paintings are “hidden” all over Boulder. They’re such a treat to find. (about a foot tall)
This one I found on the side of my favorite coffee shop. I’ve walked passed it countless times, but SAW it yesterday.
Perhaps a budding artist who was inspired by the cat paintings??
This one is in a pocket park two houses down from me.

After my last post, I wondered if I’d even be able to come up with enough to write another because in reality, with the exception of a daily 1 hour walk in my neighborhood, I’ve not left my house so what could I possibly have to say? Go figure. I’ve got a lot to say. Maybe it’s because I’m paying more attention now…

So here’s what I’ve come up with, in a rather stream of consciousness form….not necessarily silver linings or rusted metals but just stuff. Plain and simple and a bit disjointed.

When I put anything that starts with a “Q” into my phone, my phone completes the word as “quarantining.” One step ahead of me, phone.

The strange walking dance continues and I’m kind of fascinated by it. I’ll be walking down the sidewalk, see someone a block ahead of me and someone crossing the street to my side to avoid someone else, leaving me in the middle wondering which direction should I go? Somehow it always works, much like a choreagraphed dance or a marching band whose players weave in and out in constant motion without running in to one another. When listening to a podcast when I walk, there are often gaps that I realize I’ve not listened at all because I’m so focused on the scant, but relevant pedestrian traffic. It seems like we need music for this dance.

This whole staying at home thing… I made the comment in my last post that I hadn’t ever spent this amount of time at home unless I was sick or with newborns and even then I don’t think it was that long. There was a time when the threat of having to stay at home was promptly followed by the words, “You’re grounded.” They were familiar words for me during my high school years as I struggled with curfews. I’ve got some good grounding stories, like the one with an escape from my sequestered room, a jump started car and a night out with my best friend that ended in a wreck (no injuries) but will save that story for another time. Let’s just say I’m handling the sequestered part much better now and am not even the least bit tempted to escape. Stay tuned though.

The decisions I struggled with last week as to whether I should cancel or not – car maintenance, dentist appointment, pilates class and a massage, were decisions that I didn’t have to make after all. All were canceled and now even questioning it seems so ridiculous. How far my point of reference has moved in a short week.

Time is fluid and kind of irrelevant now. I’ve taken baths in the middle of the day, had dinner at 4:00 and ate dessert before my dinner last night because it was the better choice. Weekends, weekdays, all the same now. I am trying to keep some sort of a schedule but it’s pretty vague… coffee when I get up, FaceTime sever members of my family, do stuff, eat, do more stuff, walk, eat, do more stuff then head to bed because I’m usually exhausted, strangely enough. The “stuff” is the variable. Somedays the “stuff” is better than others. Today, my morning “stuff” was a pilates class on zoom. That’s good stuff.

Maybe this is more of a reflection of my personality, but I do much better with the quarantining on rainy, snowy, cloudy days. The sunny days are far more difficult. Hunkering down just doesn’t line up with sunny days, blue sky weather. I am grateful for my hour long daily walks and some digging in the garden with hopes that garden centers will be open when the planting begins, but the bulk of my days are still inside, hunkered down and I want the weather to match the activity.

I spent much of yesterday cooking. It reminded me of when I was pregnant with Emery and was making chili and spaghetti sauce in preparation… pots simmering on the stove and a line up of opened cans and chopped veggies on the countertop. I came to the conclusion that if you’ve got all day to cook, it’s really rather enjoyable and very nurturing for the soul. I made vegetarian chili then realized I had no chili powder so simply changed the name to veggies, tomato and bean medley. I’m pretty much eating medleys for every meal these days… a bit of this, a bit of that and put it on top of rice or quinoa. Soy or peanut sauce for Asian, salsa for Mexican. Done. My daughter AND my daughter in law both brought me needed groceries yesterday – onions, garlic, chocolate… you know, the usual, and they happened to arrive with their goods at the same time. With ample distance between us, we had a nice conversation in the yard. It was so good seeing them in person and not on a screen. So good that I wanted to cry. Meanwhile, the granola I had in the oven burned, but it was well worth it as I got to have a real conversation with Emery and Brooke. It was so strange to not end with hugs. Heartbreaking, really. I miss hugs.

Cooking prep…I actually felt nervous to deplete my canned goods by 5, but a lot of meals came out of them.

And speaking of hugs…I realized the other day that it has been 13 days since I’ve had any physical contact with another human being… 13 days without a hug. That’s hard. That’s what’s hard about going at this alone. When my son Grant was in high school and was headed out the door, I’d ask for a hug and would get an air hug (out stretched arms with the back of one hand slapping the palm of the other). It became a bit of a tradition in our family of huggers, but an add on gesture to the real deal. Brooke, Emery and I all did air hug goodbyes just as a young woman was walking by and she caught my eye, tilted her head and gave me a smile of understanding. It is the smallest moments that have the most impact on me now. Those tiny gestures of reassurance and understanding.

I sifted through the burnt granola, picking out the blackest bits and was able to use it tonite to add it to 2 apples for a small “apple crisp.” This was what I ate first, before my dinner, simply because it was the better choice. Not that the bean, tomato, vegetable medley wasn’t good, but the apple crisp was better, and so it was eaten first. Anyone who knows me well knows that I do NOT like cooked fruit and will NOT eat it, but when all you have are apples and burnt granola to squelch your cravings for some sort of sweet dessert, then cooked fruit it is. My kids will be surprised when they read this. And it was pretty good. I think a lot of things are pretty good now that I’m cooking all my meals and am in quarantine. That point of reference has also shifted.

I’m so very grateful for the spirit of this amazing town I live in. The outreach, the kindness, the smiles, I will always remember this as my real introduction to the town of Boulder. I discover something new with every walk… new pocket neighborhoods that I had never seen before, benches tucked small corners with perfect mountain views and houses that are just plain fun.

Happy house. How can you not smile when you pass a checked “Alice in Wonderland” house?
I hope she’s able to get to the store soon…

A couple of mountain lions were spotted in a nearby neighborhood yesterday, around a mile from my house. This is not normal. The occasional mountain lion on a mountain trail, maybe, but on a neighborhood street, not so much.. Is it possible that the trails are so busy now with the quarantine that the animals simply wanted a place to get away from the humans so resorted to the empty neighborhood streets? Besides a watchful eye for pedestrians, I’m also going to be scanning the neighborhood for mountain lions, I guess. These times are truly not for the faint of heart.

My sister, Susan, said that her local distillery is now making hand sanitizer. Although more than grateful to have it, she said it had the lingering odor of the day after a woodsy. For those who don’t know the term, (which is either a Midwest term or an Olathe, Kansas term….), a woodsy was (or is??) a gathering in a remote area where parents wouldn’t normally look that involved a bon fire, big groups of kids and the likely possibility of liquor. A nostalgic smell, no doubt, but maybe something I wouldn’t want to have lingering on my skin 24/7. Still, kudos to the distillery who have changed their production for the sake of their customers.

I’m feeling overwhelmed today. Boulder has now instated basically a shelter in place order, like much of the country. Although it’s what I’ve been doing for the past 12 days, seeing that in writing felt heavy. My pendulum swings throughout the day from happy, creative and inspired to sad, worried and depressed. After 13 days, I’m used to it, but it still catches me off guard.

In my deep closet clean out last week (or was it the week before???), I found some hand carved angels that I had gotten a few years ago in Santa Fe. Both of them had detached arms so with much pride at my followthrough, I dug out my glue gun to make repairs. Now that their arms are attached again, I’ve noticed an odd external rotation on both of them which I realize now is because I gave them the wrong arms. They look like they’re getting ready for a cheer. READY! OK!! I don’t normally house them on my mantle, but figure a little extra cheer couldn’t hurt. Sorry about the arms, girls.

Given that most of the reporters and those being interviewed are working from their homes, I’m finding myself as focused on trying to see the titles of the books on the shelves that they always seem to position themselves in front of as I am with their words. There are some nice libraries out there. Some of them could use a bit of tidying up, but am guessing they’ve not had the kind of free time that I have.

I took an all day creativity class a few weeks ago and the first thing the teacher told us to do was sit quietly in his open doored studio and simply listen. We then talked about what we heard – actually we wrote poems about what we heard then painted it, but that’s another story. I often walk with ear buds in, listening to music or podcasts or books but today, I took them out and simply listened, inspired by the class. I heard song birds, the faint sound of children playing, a hammer pounding and a woodpecker (hopefully in someone else’s yard) and took a moment to stop and simply absorb it all.. What you can hear, see and feel when all the junk is peeled back, is truly amazing. It sounds like a radio station that has gotten tuned in and sounds so much clearer once the static is gone.

There is so much that I miss but at the same time, a day hasn’t gone by that I’ve not seen something in my neighborhood that has given me pause and a big smile. I’m seeing so much more than I used to.

And here’s the biggest silver lining of my day…

Boulder lit up the Flagstaff Star on the mountain that I mentioned in a previous post to “raise the hopes of our beloved community” amid coronavirus pandemic. It will be the guiding North Star for so many who see it at night. I’m blessed to have a clear view of it from my bed. It felt like a big hug last night. Thank you, Boulder.

Thank you, Boulder.

Coronavirus Day 10 – Our good side is showing

3 people ahead of me. It almost felt “crowded.” We kept our distance.

It has been 10 days since I’ve left my house, except for my daily walks. This strange routine is actually starting to feel somewhat normal now except for the lingering thought that I’m sick. No, not with coronavirus, but sick with anything else because there has never been a time in my life that I’ve not left my house for 10 days (except for walking) unless I was very sick or with newborn babies and even then, I’m not sure it was 10 days.

My silver linings column is growing at a much faster rate than I anticipated. Thank goodness. Here’s what I’ve noticed in the past few days:

The positive humanitarian stories on the news just keep on coming’…. the neighborhood online informational group I’m a part of has had a constant stream of people wanting to help in any way they can. People who want to help are teaming up with those who need them. It’s so incredible and encouraging to see.

People in Boulder and neighboring towns are suggesting that we dig out our boxes of Christmas lights and put them up again simply for the beauty of it. There’s talk about lighting up the large star on Flagstaff Mountain that is lit up at Christmas and is so big that it is visible from most of Boulder. The only other time the star was lit up when it wasn’t the Christmas season was during the hostage crisis in 1980. It seems like we all need to be able to look up at the mountains at night and see a huge star.

Old friends that I’ve not talked to in a while are reaching out to connect. What a gift that’s been. The gift of time has blessed us with so many unexpected gifts.

I’ve felt more connected to Boulder than I ever have since moving here 7 months ago… all of this happening while in the confines of my home. The places where I exercise have all added classes through the zoom app and last evening I did pilates with 7 or 8 others while in the privacy of my living room. We enjoyed a little “happy hour” afterwards and shared our experiences and feelings with each other while enjoying a virtual glass of wine or cocktail with one another. These are the beautiful pieces of the fabric of humanity that are getting woven together, row by row in our shared experiences of isolation. THAT is my PLATINUM lining.

The plea and the response for people to use carry out to support the local restaurants in town, all with appropriate measures being taken to get the food to the customers safely, has been very popular. I’ve even seen small clothing shops offer to deliver items purchased (online) to your home or they are also happy to bring them to your car for pick up. I know these creative suggestions are going on all over the country and the positive response seems to be growing.

The grocery store clerks, the medical professionals, the truck drivers, the postal employees, the warehouse workers, the garbage men, the restaurant workers, the sanitation workers are now our heroes and we’re finally noticing the good work they are doing and have been doing all along.

We are acting independently yet together for the greater good with the sacrifices of our daily routine and I can’t say it enough….. we are ALL in this together. It is community spirt at it’s best and is showing us how well we stand together as a species to protect the few in an almost primal manner.

I’m in continual awe of the beauty that’s being uncovered when we are forced to set down our well-honed ability to be busy and simply be instead.

I’m both humored and touched by the ongoing awkward dance we all are doing as we pass each other on the street giving each other the appropriate distance, which by the way seems far greater than the 6 feet I saw just a few days ago. I’ve got to say that being on constant alert to oncoming pedestrian traffic takes a bit of the meditative process out of my walks.

I’m losing my sense of time and no longer feel drawn to check my watch throughout the day. What difference does it make? There’s no place I’m supposed to be. I’m starting to wonder, besides exercise classes and the store, where was I going so often when I left my house what seems like multiple times a day? I’ve had many a day when I start preparing dinner only to realize later that I’m eating earlier than dinner is served at my parent’s retirement home….. 4:00 or 5:00 if I’m feeling more sophisticated. It’s the bookend to my morning coffee that gives my day form.

The supply of good snacks are going down and the words with friends invites are going up. Little feels certain to me right now except for uncertainty itself. Distraction, distraction, distraction. Today I sewed 24 cloth bags of varying sizes for me (and who ever else wants some) to be used as re-usable gift bags. It’s small but is part of my commitment to making less waste and trash. I’m looking into sewing masks next, but am not sure about procuring supplies.

Sewing station… this morning there were nice views from the skylight of blue skies and melting snow.

Melissa Ethridge comes into my living room daily now for live concerts on Facebook. Thanks, Melissa (she’s a Kansas native…. I feel like I can act like she’s my pal).

I’m having very detailed, story-like dreams and should start keeping paper on my nightstand. I think this comes from the percolation of my thoughts all day long with little opportunity to share them, short of my FaceTime chats. Oh and those FaceTime chats? They are my joy and my sanity.

I stopped dying my hair years ago. To those that still dye their hair, my heart aches for you in the coming weeks/months. Who doesn’t love a cute hat though?

More creative wall paint.

This was a wall in front of a house. The vibrant colors were very striking!

The not so silver linings, or “rusted metals” as I’m going to start calling them, are:

The good snacks are almost gone, in part because portion control seems to be an issue for me and also because 10 DAYS! That’s why.

I miss my kids. I miss having places to go and a calendar that was starting to fill up.

I miss plans. I miss people. I miss plans with people.

I have moments when I just stop and will collapse into tears because plain and simple, I’m afraid. I know I’m not alone there and also know that we are collectively trying our hardest to push through the negative thoughts while focusing on the positive. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

There is still a lot of good happening though regardless of the dark cloud that has settled over the world and that’s where I’m trying to put my focus. I’ve heard more than one person comment on the “reset” this is giving the world AND its inhabitants. No doubt, we will all be changed from this.

I bought these flowers the last tine I was in a store… 10 days ago. They are on their last few days and I’m feeling sad about that as they make me so happy.

Coronavirus Day 8 – Hunkering Down

OK. Day 8 of hunkering down in my house.

Here’s what I’ve come up with for my silver linings (as well as a few “rusted metals” that couldn’t be ignored).

This is a time when we are seeing the very best AND the very worst of humanity. I’m so pleased to say that the bests are winning over here for me. I went out walking yesterday, enjoying the 60 degree temps that were quickly replaced today with snow, and was so struck by what I saw. Everyone I passed, and there were several given the perfect spring weather, gave me the appropriate 6 feet of distance and followed it up with eye contact, a smile and a wave. Every. Single. Person. It was comforting and made me feel so welcomed. I wasn’t the newcomer who didn’t know anyone, but rather, felt like I had become a part of the fabric of the neighborhood simply by our shared experiences. People were out on their porches listening to music or were enjoying the springtime temps while working in flower beds and gardens (all covered up by a good 6 inches of snow now). It was the boost my gloomy mood needed.

Kids are so resilient. My grandson, Arlo, is connecting with his preschool class via Zoom and is able to listen to his teacher read to the class via this program as well as see what the other kids in the class are doing in their homes. I FaceTimed later in the day and he told me he has school on the computer now because everyone has a “birus”… He seems totally fine with the new way to do school because he’s almost 3 and that’s how almost 3 year olds respond to things. Life goes on. Easy enough.

Thank goodness for Netflix. Thank goodness for my computer and the internet. Thank goodness for shelves of books. Thank goodness for yarn and needles and knitting patterns.

It may be time to start writing letters again, because why not? And because in cleaning out desk drawers, stationary seems to be something I buy frequently but use rarely.

Thank goodness for FaceTime. I feel so much more connected simply by seeing faces on my phone.

It feels good to have raised kids who are showing their love for me in their protection of me and daughter who is providing me with a wealth of knowledge on building my immune system.

My heart melts at seeing the community service for the small businesses my daughter has put into place. I woke up to a bag of goodies that she had delivered to my back door from a local shop we both enjoy. Her already huge heart has grown 2 sizes and mine has grown 3 just hearing about what she’s done.

Productivity seems to be proportionate to time. The more time I have, the less I am accomplishing. My mojo from early few days has waned. I’m working on resurrecting it, but am not sure exactly how to do that.

Cooking is more fun when you pretend you’re on a cooking show with a live studio audience (not like I’ve done that, but am just guessing…)

I weave in and out of being lonely during the day and content and seem to be on an every other day with my mood cycles. Yesterday wasn’t great and by the end of the day, the emotions of myself, my neighborhood, my town, my state, my country and my world, started to feel heavy. There’s really no way I can escape it except by distraction…. and I know there’s a world of people in the same boat. There is so much comfort in the collective energy of that! And so I write. I knit. I watch old movies and new series. I read and I dance when the mood hits and the music is right and today, I spent a lot of time simply looking out the window because regardless of how dark life feels right now, I still have a view of the Flatiron Mountains from my window, made even more beautiful by a half a foot of big, fluffy flakes of snow.

Even after 8 days, this still feels very odd…. Groundhog Day kind of odd, and even after 8 days, I still wake up and moments later think, oh, yeah… this. Again. And again. And again. So far, I’ve not rolled over and simply gone back to sleep. So far…

There is a lot of creative painting on buildings and fencing in my neighborhood that I never paid much attention to before…

I walk by this almost daily. Today I truly saw it for the first time…

The good snacks are going fast and I seem to have forgotten what a single serving is.

Thank goodness for online exercise classes from my local studio and a flight of stairs that I’m thinking of pairing with a National Geographic program in the background to simulate hiking. I may even throw on a light pack and my camelback to hydrate. Yeah, things are going just fine over here…

With a little National Geographic TV in the background, I’m seeing some serious hiking today….

This forced slow down, simply because so much of our lives have been cancelled, is showing its light on a lot of creativity. For instance, I’ve got a running thread with some girlfriends whose subject now is “Covid 19 playlist”…. you know…..”Help”, “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “Get Back,” and so on. These are connections that are keeping me sane and laughing. And the laughing is so darn important.

In the time of social distancing, I’m seeing an increase in connections and more depth to those connections. We are all learning how to stretch through uncertainty and find comfort in the smallest of things that I may not have even noticed before and THAT is how we will all come out of this better people. I know I’m not alone when I say that I feel like a reset button has been pushed and I’ve got the time now to actually contemplate what that means for me and my place in this community.

I’m surprised by what brings me to tears these days and it’s not what I thought it would be…. seeing neighbors talking to each other in their yards while standing 6 plus feet apart, or seeing Arlo sitting in front of a lap top next to his Dad looking at his friends and his teacher on the computer screen or the photo of the man on the patio talking to his elderly father on the phone who is sitting in a chair on the other side of slider doors. These things bring tears to my eyes because they show so much heart. It’s that heart that is propping us up right now when we’re all starting to slump into postures that look like question marks.

One day at a time…or one hour if that sounds more do-able, is how I’m keeping a forward pace. There’s a lot of growth that’s silently taking place right along side the fear, the frustration, the loneliness and the worries in homes across the world right now. We are finding out just how innovative, creative and motivated we can be when we have little to work with and that is how a wheatie with a dab of peanut butter spread on it becomes a peanut butter crispen, my friends (reference previous post if this sounds like nonsense…and even then it still might….)

Oh and Andy Griffith re-runs? They still hold up in a simple, homespun, apple pie, conflict always resolved, kind of way and is a nice way to off-set some the more pulse racing and conflict-filled shows I’m also watching. Aunt Bee would have no problem whatsoever staying at home baking pies. Be like Aunt Bee.

Empty, quiet streets…. eerie and peaceful at the same time.
Spring’s eternal hope….

Onward and upward. Tomorrow’s another day. Stay healthy.

Coronavirus. Day 6 – Day 6. From “Corona what?” to “There’s no hand sanitizer or toilet paper to be had in Boulder County”

Thank goodness for this…
Empty, ghost-like streets that are normally bustling.

Day 6. From “Corona what?” to “there’s no hand sanitizer OR toilet paper to be had in Boulder County”

I know that accurately this isn’t day 6 of coronavirus hitting the United States, but it is the 6th day of behavior changes for me. 6 days ago, after talking to my sister, Susan, who lives in an area of western Massachusetts that has been hit hard, I thought that maybe it was time to make a major grocery store run, just in case. This is not my usual style for two reasons. First, I haven’t lived in a house with a decent sized pantry since I divorced 14 years ago, at which time I started shopping and planning my meals on more of a day by day schedule. Second, I’m not much of a planner so my first reason has worked well for me. But, in trying to be responsible and ahead of the curve, I went to the store, to fill up with the predictable staples and followed the crowds that seemed to be gravitating to the toilet paper aisle because that’s what crowds do. They follow. Much to my surprise, I realized that I was a day or two or maybe even several days late on this then quickly learned that the hand sanitizer situation was the same. I did find some disinfectant counter cleaner, which is really pretty awful on hands, but it is better than nothing and has been delegated for outside of my house only (I’m using good ole soap and warm water while home, which is 99% of the time now). I stocked up on beans, rice, stock, canned tomatoes and the like on shelves that were getting noticeable thin, buying more than I had anticipated simply because of the diminishing stock and because it seemed to be what every one else was doing. I had a sinking feeling when I left the store. Moods were somber. People were anxious and afraid. This is real.

Once home, I started cleaning because that’s what I do when I’m not sure what else to do. This isn’t cleaning floors, walls and surfaces, but rather is cleaning, sorting, stacking and re-stacking every vessel in my house that holds stuff. Given that I only moved in 7 months ago, I don’t have a lot of excess or unstacked stacks, but I had enough to keep me busy and my mind distracted for most of the morning. Some may wonder why I didn’t immediately go to my computer to start writing – anything -just to write, because that’s my other go to but when I did, I discovered that my spacebar no longer worked, making for a challenging read. Seriously computer? Now? How’s that for timing? (I’m typing this out slowly and with difficulty on an iPad while I wait for the external keyboard that I ordered). Organizing and reorganizing was a good stand in for my writing and as a Virgo, it’s what I do. A messy drawer turning into an organized wonder raises my pulse and gives me tremendous satisfaction. It’s an odd addiction, I know, and one that’s not always visible as I seem to like the process of tidying up more than keeping things tidy. Again, it’s what Virgos do for fun when no one is watching. I was also trying to stay away from the news as I have a tendency to not be able to pull myself away once in its grip. This is a time when Friends reruns are much more suited for me than is any news show, even NPR. An episode of “That Girl” keeps coming to mind….Ann (played by Marlo Thomas) was having a New Year’s Eve party and had more people come than she anticipated so her snacks were in short supply. Wanting to be a good hostess, she turned to the backs of her cupboards and came up with a dab of peanut butter on individual wheaties cereal flakes. And voila! Peanut butter crispens were invented. Although I have plenty of food and am not finding the need to dig around the bottoms of cereal boxes for snacks, I feel like I’m in a peanut butter crispen situation right now. It’s time to get creative and find things to occupy my day that hopefully will turn out much better than anticipated. I’m looking for my own version of the now famous peanut butter krispen ( or at least famous in my family as it’s become code for getting creative with very little.)

So, with the tv off and the music on, I cleaned, I sorted, and I organized my closets to within an inch of their lives until I wondered what I was going to do the next day and the day after that and well, the next few weeks. My daughter, my son in law, my 5 month-old granddaughter and my almost 3 year-old grandson are all in self-isolation after spending time in Aspen, an area that’s been hit hard, and since I spent time with them when they got home, I’m reluctant to see my son and daughter in law and 1 year-old grand daughter who also live in town. That, added to the fact that I’ve not formed a strong social network yet in Boulder have left me in a definite place of isolation.

I like living alone, but have to say that when I realized that 4 days had passed and I hadn’t spoken with another human, face to face, this extrovert is struggling a bit. We are social beings and although I like settling in for some alone time as much as the next guy, this is a whole lot of a lot. There is great comfort in knowing that I’m not alone in my aloneness though and I’m in a constant search for linings that are silver, or even brass at this point.

We are all facing a new reality and I’m learning a lot about myself during these quiet days, starting with how much I need nature to maintain a modicum of sanity. Daily. I’m fortunate to live in a town that’s surrounded by nature – mountains, streams and several trails are a short walk straight down my street. This morning I walked down my street, to a gentle trail that fronts the Flatiron Mountains. I walked at least 15 minutes before I passed another human being. This is not normal in my neighborhood. I’m two blocks from downtown and normally there are bike riders, runners, skateboarders, walkers and even the occasional hover boarder. The street is never as empty or as quiet as it was this morning. There was a definite awkwardness when I got closer to the first person I passed as we scooted as far away from each other as possible, which had me stepping over the curb and onto the street to give each other the 6 feet suggested. I hiked up a mountain trail for a short while (I wasn’t prepared for hiking so didn’t even have water on me) and realized as I began to encounter a few other hikers that I feared them more than the mountain lions that have occasionally been spotted in the area. How odd. How terribly odd. Yet as awkward as it was to move as far away from a passerby as I could, while they followed the same protocol, it was a gesture that felt touching to me as it was showing such respect for one another. We truly are all in this together.

I’m trying to settle into this new reality, that seems different by the day according to my mood. I hit a low spot yesterday afternoon, feeling the heaviness of the isolation and loneliness like a` weight sitting on my soul. We are social animals and to have to isolate in our homes simply is not our nature. I can’t afford to start spinning in a downward cycle this early in the game so knew what I had to do and turned on some good ole rock and roll and danced. Alone. In my kitchen. Ladies choice. Dancing around my island for 3 or 4 songs was the energetic reboot I needed. It’s the smallest of moments I’m clinging on to these days. Another new routine that I’ve come to covet is my Face Time with my sister, Susan, in Massachusetts. We’ve always liked good phone chat but adding the visual to the call has added so much.

New sweater?? It’s cute. And your hair looks good today…

Thanks! And doesn’t it? Wouldn’t you know… good hair day when I’m not leaving the house at all. Sigh..

She gets up and walks me into the kitchen to stir the soup. I can almost smell it. (Susan is a good cook.) I wish I could stay for lunch.

I’m almost right there with her. It feels good. I will take what I can get and that little bit of face to face on my small phone screen feels like a lot right now.

This isn’t easy. The isolation is foreign to me and has come at a time when my calendar was filling up with lectures and classes and group hikes, all of course now cancelled. There is comfort in knowing that I’m not alone and when I think that so much of the world or at the very least most of my town is sitting on their couches wondering what next in between times of cleaning and sorting and creating and cooking. I’m alone but I have great company in all of this. I can’t get too far ahead of myself as it’s too daunting, but am trying to savor the joy in the small moments. The Doors playing L.A. Woman while I danced around the island in my kitchen was a good start. Oh, and speaking of L.A…. I was supposed to go in a few days to see Philip Glass with Grant and Katie. The concert is cancelled and now my flight is cancelled too…. a decision that was tough to make and that I shed a few tears over, but it was the right and the safe thing to do. I’m blessed to have 2/3 of my kids here in Boulder but desperately miss the other third. Especially now.

I’m trying. I’m digging deep within myself to access my sanity reserves that I know are there as I’ve dipped into those pools before. Rain is coming, which will make my communal moments with nature a bit more challenging but thought that maybe with some National Geographic programs on in the background, maybe I could run up and down my stairs for a bit to simulate a nice hike. The Met has operas online that I can access, there are Broadway musicals online and the same Spanish programs that I’ve visited off and on for years are still there for the taking. Susan said she could possibly be en pointe by the end of all this if she decides to go with the online ballet classes with fluency in French to boot. There really are a lot of creative options that organizations have generously provided, but the one that seems most appealing to me right now is simply the quiet exploration of self, and taking note of the process as there’s some pretty rich stuff in there to uncover. I say that today, on day 6. By day 10, I may be doing online ballet in my slippers.

My silver linings today are :

There are a lot of places to “go deep” when in quarantine…. and not just my closets and drawers. I’m pulling back some long drawn curtains into parts of my soul that I’ve not visited in a while. There’s some good exploring going on.

When you move slower, you see a lot more and things you never noticed before suddenly become relevant, like the fact that there is one chair in my front room that when seated in I can see 11 pieces of art and or photography. It is now my favorite chair in my house.

My connections to people, although not face to face or in person right now, are seeming far more meaningful as their importance has soared.

Crocus have impeccable timing.

I don’t do well when I have stockpiles of good snacks when it comes to what a single serving size is… this is not a revelation of quarantine as I already knew this about myself, but it is a new challenge given the well-stocked kitchen shelves I now have.

Even when I have little, ok nothing, scheduled, I still struggle to get my laundry out of the dryer in a timely fashion. After 2 days, serious wrinkling sets in. I think I hate to do laundry.

Eye contact. It’s pretty important. So is smiling.

Aren’t old photos just the very best??? I’m going to start texting them to my kids. I’m not sure they even know what my prom dress looked like my senior year! Time to share.

Laugh. Move. Laugh some more. Find your peanut butter crispen and reach out to those you love.

You have to find the moments…11 pieces of art that I can see from this chair. It’s a good spot.