An All Too Brief Pandemic Pause

 

on the road

What a sight it was a week ago Friday.

Six hours of driving (almost) nonstop. Highways to city streets to country roads. Following the GPS lady’s directions – every minute bringing us closer to our CovidCation. The weather was beautiful – almost too good to be true.

Faster and faster we drove (well I did…my husband’s foot is not as leaden as mine).

We were out-running a virus after all.

Get my lunch out of the backseat please! The car was packed with 2 coolers, 2 suitcases and laundry baskets full of necessities. My gluten free toaster in one of them. As we learned bringing our kids to college, laundry baskets work out well for car trips…as they can nest when they’re empty for the trip home.

It occurred to me that travel by car meant I could bring Full Size Bottles of whatever I wanted. So I did.

My laptop and our cameras…carefully packed. We remembered the tripod for a group photo. Paw Patrol bubbles (but of course). Decks of cards. Guitar.

We arrived at the lake house in the Pocono Mountains around 6:30 pm.

Within a minute a short blonde 4 year old came running out…Grandma! And somehow he was up in my arms with his arms wrapped around my neck, legs encircling my waist. I don’t know how I picked him up but I must have. The first full on leap into my arms hug since February. Far too long.

After that, my daughter and I shared a good long hug. Face to face for the first time in 6 months. Then hugs for my son-in-law, my son and his girlfriend. We had tested and quarantined and stayed safe. Carefully planned and orchestrated.

All those hugs felt so good.

Of course we were joined by the two family dogs: Lutra and Taco (who have been featured in this blog before). They enjoyed themselves immensely as well.

We were in our own little bubble.

bubbles

A four day pause from virus fears.

firepit

What a sight to see.

No masks.

No social distancing…except from the family swimming across the lake.
(Grandma which one is the dada and which one is the mama? Grandma I think the bigger one is the dada….)

ducks

It was glorious.

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V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #109: What a Sight
Ragtag Daily Prompt: Pause
SixWordSaturday

Never mind…

 

park bench kids copy 2
June 2019

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Never mind that my husband and I spent our 42nd(!) wedding anniversary Wednesday in our condo garage…wearing our finest face masks & work clothes. Emptying out our 2 storage units for hours. Yeah, we still have too much stuff, but oh well.

The Mold Remediation Company was scheduled for Thursday to clean all 32 units plus the entire garage.

It took hours to move all of our crap stuff into our parking spaces. We were joined by our fellow masked condo dwellers…many initially embarrassed by the exposure of hidden “treasures.” I can’t believe I still have so much stuff. The thing is, there used to be SO much more before we downsized. So, don’t worry about it.

Talk about lousy timing. But that’s 2020 for you.

garage

[Never mind that I alerted the Condo Board to this issue 3 years ago and they didn’t listen to me. I told you so.]

Never mind that even after 4 repair attempts, the refrigerator’s lights still don’t work…and is limping towards its last days.

Never mind all of that.

Why?

On Tuesday we braved the local hospital’s outpatient lab to get Covid-19 tests, so we could be sure we weren’t infected (we aren’t). Even though we have no symptoms.

waiting room

Why?

Because we are going on a CovidCation.

Today we are driving to the middle of nowhere in the mountains of Pennsylvania to a house by a lake. We will enter a Covid tested bubble of love…to spend a quarantined 4 days with our “kids,” their spouse/partners, grandson and 2 dogs…most of whom we haven’t seen in 6 months or more.

My 4 year old grandson has been asking me on facetime…

Grandma are you excited to go to the lake house?

facetime

I sure am!

Never mind that we spent the better part of yesterday (Thursday, right?) moving our crap stuff back into the cleaned storage units. Followed by packing up clothing, supplies (so many supplies when you are older), and food. Hoping we made enough lists and remembered everything. The option of “we can buy it when we get there” is no longer okay…to stay safe.

If the stars align and health prevails, we will soon be on the road today: Friday. Six hour car trips are a huge challenge physically – and I haven’t attempted one in 3 years, but…

I’m excited to go to the lake house!

My daughter made a spreadsheet of the menu and I am also excited about that. We might even make s’mores – and I’ve been told they will be GF (Gluten Free aka Grandma Friendly).

So I may be absent from my blog until next week.

CovidCation here I come.

To listen or not to listen

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #107: listen

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Breaking News! – more bad stuff happening everywhere!

Well, technically, that’s NOT what is announced nightly from my television. But it might as well be…as an earnest news anchor rattles off the News Headlines Of The Day when the show begins. She leaves the one bright spot – a friendly citizen delivering food to a neighbor or making someone smile – for the last 5 minutes of the broadcast. Saving the feel-good news for the end.

So…I ask myself…why do I listen at all? To the TV reports. To news radio. I jokingly (but not really joking) reply…well maybe there will be a cure! a solution! a miracle! Either that’s a sign of my foolish hopefulness or unfortunate naivety. I guess I want to know what’s (mostly) going on. It’s the continuous not knowing that I find so hard to live with.

So I turn on the news and try to pick up on what positives I can. There must be something hidden between the lines to hold on to. If I pay close attention.

However…what would I rather listen to?

The sound of waves hitting the beach. It’s predictable and calming and I don’t have to pay close attention.

This video of Hampton Beach, NH is from last year. Now, due to COVID-19 restrictions, it is next to impossible to access the beach in person. Too many people. Not enough parking.

I could listen to this all day.

 

Playing Perspectives

BeckyB July Squares: Perspectives

Today is the last day of Becky B’s fantastic month long challenge. Every photo has to be square – and in some way portray this month’s theme: perspectives.

It goes without saying that life around the world has changed in the last few months – and our perspectives along with it. I can only speak for myself as to specifics – but along with the isolation, restrictions and fear…there has been at least one silver lining in my family life.

My husband teaches guitar for a living – has been doing so for over 40 years. Both of our children have guitars and have benefitted from his influence and guidance over the years.

Our son’s interest in the guitar began during his senior year in college and he made do with my old acoustic from childhood. He started his post-college life in the Washington DC area and during a 2014 visit, Dad was able to give him a few lessons.

While I obviously snuck around taking photos…as usual…

March 2014 guitar lesson
March 2014

We gave our son a new guitar for his birthday shortly thereafter.

However, as a busy young finance professional, he hadn’t had much time to really dive into it. Until COVID-19 hit and changed everything.

Quarantined at home in Washington, DC, he picked up the guitar again this past March. He has been connecting with Dad on a weekly basis for lessons and conversation ever since.

Guitar lessons and connections during a pandemic…a new perspective.

guitar lesson
June 2020

 

You just might find…

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #103: theme song

Let’s have a little fun this week, discovering our current theme song. Post a video, lyrics, or write your own.

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A “theme song” – let’s call it my pandemic theme song – has been looping through my mind ever since COVID-19 erupted in the United States back in March.

The chorus from You Can’t Always Get What You Want by (who else) The Rolling Stones popped into my head almost immediately.

It also happens to be embroidered on a large 14″ x 18″ patch of denim. Which is framed and hangs on the wall next to my desk where I write every day.

Whenever I look up, there it is in glorious shades of pink and purple. A good friend of mine from high school made it for me in 1972. She was kind of a hippy back then and is now a cloistered nun. A story I touched upon last year.

abby patch2

 

I mean, seriously, it does make perfect sense.  You can’t always get what you want…most of us learn that fairly early in life if we’re lucky…and I often feel comforted by this timeless bit of wisdom. The Stones immortalized it, but it is actually true…duh.

I try to keep this nugget of humble logic in mind…as I wake up each morning…open my eyes…and remember. It’s not a dream. The world is still under siege. We are still waiting for “normal.”

The Stones did a wonderful virtual Zoom rendition of this tune on April 18th, 2020 for the “One World: Together At Home” concert in support of the World Health Organization. How fascinating that – out of all the songs they’ve recorded – this one was chosen for such a monumental moment in history. It makes perfect sense to me.

I may desperately want to see my family and friends in person…but I am still grateful I am not stuck in a long line of cars waiting for food. Or worrying I may lose my home or business. The financial impact on my family of 2 is not nearly as severe as it is for so many others.

Even though the April 18th performance doesn’t include the opening verses sung by the London Bach Choir, I highly recommend it.
(Bonus: you’ll get to see Charlie Watts playing air drums)

 

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

I saw her today at the reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she was gonna meet her connection
At her feet was her footloose man

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes, well, you might find
You get what you need

And I went down to the demonstration
To get my fair share of abuse
Singing, “We’re gonna vent our frustration
If we don’t we’re gonna blow a fifty-amp fuse”

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes, well, you just might find
You get what you need

I went down to the Chelsea drugstore
To get your prescription filled
I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy
And man, did he look pretty ill
We decided that we would have a soda
My favorite flavor, cherry red
I sung my song to Mr. Jimmy
Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was “dead”
I said to him

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need

You get what you need, yeah, oh baby

I saw her today at the reception
In her glass was a bleeding man
She was practiced at the art of deception
Well, I could tell by her blood-stained hands

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need, oh yeah

by, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger
Released in 1969 on the album Let It Bleed

Lens Artists Challenge: Summer

Lens Artists Challenge #104: Summer

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“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” – Cynthia Ozick

Up until 2020, summer was a fairly predictable time of year. I could plan trips and get togethers with friends and family…without a second thought. Including return visits to favorite summer festivals and fairs.

I painfully realize now how much I took all of that for granted…thinking oh we can come back next summer…when the 2019 schedule got crowded. This summer…it’s all cancelled.

I actually look forward to the seasonal chore of storing away sweaters, hats and mittens. And then dragging out the “summer clothes” from a high closet shelf. Pulling out shorts, T-shirts and sandals. Ready For Summer.

Well, I can still switch the clothes around…but that’s about it.

However…thinking back on life “before”…

During my earlier days of parenthood, summer always included extra family time together with my children. Camera always in hand.

Nothing fancy. Sometimes just day trips…

summer93 copy
York Wild Animal Kingdom, Maine 1993

For over 20 years we established a family tradition. A week away…to connect and just enjoy each other. Most vacations were only a 90 minute drive to a special place on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. The last 2 were cross country on the California coast.

summer2000 copy
San Diego, California 2000

Fast forward about 17 years…and summer included the next generation…

beach summer
Hampton Beach, NH 2017

During the 36+ years we lived in a house with a yard, we delighted in beds of flowers that exploded into life every summer.

One of our favorites: black eyed susans…

black eyed susans
We have continued one summertime activity through the years, despite moving to a condo and emptying the nest. Picking fresh blueberries! They are amazing when eaten within hours (or days) of being picked.

One of our neighbors, where we used to live, let us pick from his carefully tended bushes. Now we visit a local farm that has a “pick your own” field of blueberry bushes. Fortunately you can still do this during a pandemic by following the posted rules: Wear a Mask and Social Distance.

No Problem.

Here is this week’s harvest…

blueberries
Fresh New Hampshire Blueberries

They taste just like summer.

Covid Push

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #101: Decisions

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dark clouds

I’m done two weeks from tomorrow!

My friend of over 30 years called a few days ago with the news. She had made the decision to “retire” after 35+ years from her job in outpatient healthcare at a physician’s office owned by a local hospital. I put quotation marks with retire because her decision was made out of desperation. It was not made easily. It wasn’t what she had planned.

It’s the Covid push.

I had not heard the term before, but she mentioned it as an afterthought. We’d had many conversations over the last few months about the challenges she endured at work. The powers that be prioritized her schedule to include in-person visits throughout the entire pandemic. She has been terrified. At high risk herself, she was also counseling high risk patients. One after the other…when tele-health video visits would easily have sufficed.

Let’s remember, however, that insurance companies reimburse health care providers the most for in-person patient visits. Then there’s tele-health video…and the lowest reimbursement? Telephone counseling. It’s all about the money…don’t get me started.

My friend is an excellent practitioner and educator. Caring, thorough and the ultimate professional. She is also hoping to be around for her adult daughters and grandchildren for many more years to come.

It’s just not worth it anymore. I can’t do it.

I had never heard those words from her before. But there they were. Her husband, a teacher with the same risk factors, had been teaching at a public high school. He also “retired.”

They scrambled to restructure finances and find other health care options. But for the first time in many months, I heard relief in her voice.

The decision had…finally…been made.

Patience

sky

 

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #97: risk-reward

Using the the prompt words is not required, as long as you demonstrate the concept of risk-reward.

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And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.

Erica Jong

 

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve navigated more than enough life changes in the last few months. (And that doesn’t even begin to address a one-more-thing aggravation that WordPress is up to tomorrow…June 1st…when the powers-that-be change the editing format whether we like it or not…)

On the much more important front…

Everything…now…is about being careful. Staying safe. To reduce your risk of catching the virus. 

I get it. I really do. I struggle with health issues. I am a living breathing high risk demographic.

Vigilance is required. There is no relaxing since every action involves weighing the risk to your health. And the health of any person nearby…or at least within a 6 foot radius.

I know I am not alone.

Every action triggers a question…
Do I wear the mask in the car?
Do I wear the mask down the empty hall and one flight of stairs to get the mail?
Do I wear it into the garage where everyone parks?
If I don’t wear it everywhere, will I breathe in a virus particle and not know it?
Have I already done it and will it make me sick?
Now what…?

And that isn’t even the complete list of questions that ricochet in my mind when I am out in public. When encountering other grocery shoppers in the one way aisles…what is wrong with these people who aren’t wearing masks? Do they really not care about the risk to themselves…or anybody nearby?

Trying to make an informed decision about even the simplest activity becomes increasingly exhausting. Nobody in charge seems to really know what is going on. Critical thinking can grind to a halt at a moment’s notice.

I used to be a risk taker. To a point. At least I thought so. I climbed trees. Crawled across a roof. Jumped my bike over curbs. I hitchhiked. Smoked cigarettes until my late twenties. If you think about it, every action you take involves a risk of some kind. Perhaps we just adapt.

But this is different. This pandemic. I am older and supposedly wiser. They say you get more afraid of risk as you age. Whoever “they” are don’t realize that many of “us” are much younger in our heads. So there is still a bit of a risk taker inside me shouting I don’t like it ONE BIT that I can’t jump (well more like walk carefully) on a plane to go see my kids and grandson…or share a table with a group of friends at lunch…or walk on the beach.

The clock is ticking. I’m wearing a mask, keeping my distance and not getting any younger. I don’t have much more patience to be patient.

The rewards are far too precious.