My hair was long enough to wind one of those little pony tail elastics around it which got it out of my face. Since the tail was so little I called it a fishtail. Still after a few days I felt like I needed to call Cindy and get it cut. When I arrived Cindy told me I had to take my mask off for her to wash and cut my hair. You won’t tell the governor on me will you, I asked and she said no. This time I would skip the coloring so when it was cut I saw what color or lack thereof my hair has become over the last several years. It is a little break for the hair. When I looked in the mirror, I said, “Who’s that?” My hair was almost all white. Cindy said the dye color was better with my skin tones because it was softer than the stark white. Well since this is a time when I won’t see most of my friends or attend any normal group activities, there is no point in coloring my hair. Cindy’s daughter was upstairs eating her dinner and she brought a cheesecake so Cindy advised me I needed to go upstairs and join them for a slice of cheesecake. Shortly after we both climbed the steps into the kitchen and got situated with Michelle already chowing down at the about 2 1/2 foot square kitchen table, a neighbor from the next street, who Cindy said is like another daughter, arrived in her snug jogging togs. Michelle showed me a cute little child’s book made of cardboard with a fish on the cover and buggly plastic eyes. She read it aloud and I laughed Cindy’s friend joined us at the table as Cindy was handing plates of cheesecake around the table. I wanted Michelle to read the book again but she took her phone and went into the front room. I slipped my hand around the things on the end of the table to get the book and read it aloud to Cindy and her friend, opening the book for them as I did so. ” I’m just a fish. I swim around all day. If I want I can be a whale with a big tail, Swish!” They were laughing and Cindy said, “You need to be in the library!!” And I said, I know, as story lady. The conversation turned to libraries and I mentioned that I usually go to the Parma-Snow (because over the years it was along the way to wherever I was usually going.) But Cindy said “…and it’s safer than the brand new Garfield one. I agreed saying there were regular burglaries at fast food and gas stations in Garfield Hts. I then told the story of how the writer, Les Roberts described Garfield Hts. in his book Collision Course as “The high end of the Low class!” I had the opportunity to point that out to him at a dinner with writing friends some years ago and he just squirmed a bit and ahemed a bit. My friend Marilyn,down the street, who lived her whole life in Garfield Hts., pointed out that it isn’t even that good anymore. Cindy’s friend said I was funny and I said it was because I am old and when you get old you get funny. Laughing she said, no you really are. She decided that the cheesecake was not as overly sweet as she thought it might be so she would have another thin wedge of it and I decided I needed to be leaving. Cindy walked me out to my car, holding firmly onto my arm so I didn’t fall. She hugged me and I headed home with a new hairdo, much laughter in my head, cheesecake and lemonade in my tummy and the hope that this one fling without social distancing and masks would not condem any of us to the wrath of covid19. We were lucky.
Since I have published the last 3 essays I have not been able to edit any of them. I have tried numerous times to go back to each of those essays to separate the paragraphs or to add graphics, but all that happens when I click on edit is that I get swept into a vacuum known as Error! Error. Intentionally there has been plenty of time lapsed between entries hoping that whatever changed since I smoothly added essays and went back to edit them would change back or undo. But no. While my original documents have paragraph separations, the published edition gets smacked in place all stuck together and for the time being, I’m sorry to say I cannot fix them.
During this in-between time I keep wondering what might open for me at the next bend in the road. There are no clues and I am not encouraged imagining any thing creative or interesting. Meanwhile I just keep on keeping on with no special routine, call or get calls from a few friends, grocery shop, run the dishwasher and do the laundry. I’m keeping a list of the books I’ve read – 21 so far, during the Covid19 period. My sister and her family have embarked on a road trip through a number of canyon parks for the edification of my ten year old grand niece and from the photos on FaceBook, it seems to be going well and they do not seem to have encountered other people at all, which eases my anxiety. I was really quite concerned about all they might allow themselves to get exposed to and then bring whatever that was to us here in Ohio, but as they headed out I was advised they decided not to drive all the way out to Ohio. That news was a huge relief, as their last stop was scheduled to be Las Vegas, before winding up. There have been a few warnings about strong storms – most of which either blew over or made some noise without dropping much, if any rain. Last evening the predicted storm did bring enough rain to wet the streets and then eased up and later rained briefly again. This last storm seems to have been triggered by the heat – 93 degrees and rising until the rain fell cooling the air a little for the next day. Out in society there are many scrabbles – some businesses that had re-opened have again been closed; like spoiled children many people don’t want to wear face masks and persist in gathering without caution in groups. The Covid19 numbers keep rising with no indication of flattening out the curve at all.
The days seem to run together and while I am reading and watching more television and trying to keep in touch with people via phone and e-mail, I don’t think I have accomplished much else in the last three months, but I don’t feel too bad about that. I’m chalking up this time of inactivity as time of input and one day the poems and essays will come forward again. Amazing enough, I was able to publish the last essay into WordPress after many futile attempts – though I was unable yesterday to add the graphic. I will try again another time. I am happy enough to have gotten the essay and then the title published. Going to the store for groceries has become an outing and it is good just to drive up the street looking at the full green and yellow leafy foliage. The corner Goodwill store has re-opened and I made a point of going in and looking at the books since I have found some very good books there in the last year. Sure enough I found one of the A Man Called Ove books – there are apparently about 3 all with the same title, since I know there are 1,000 pages to the story and this book has only 335 pages and I think this is the first of them since it begins with an introduction to the main character, Ove. I also picked up my first Anne Hillerman novel. I read several of her father’s books when we still lived in Parma so I look forward to her continuing with Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn in the New Mexico environment. This morning began with a call from Nurse Torri in my primary care doctor’s office. She said the doctor is not ready to re-open the office for patient visits yet. Since I am scheduled for a visit tomorrow she (nurse) will call me at my appointment time and “ask the same silly questions” that she asks me in person. She will give the doctor the information and then the doctor will call me back to do an office visit via the telephone. That saves me a trip as well as standing on their scale. The shrubbery in front of my house had grown wildly with all of the May rains and I almost had to turn sideways to walk from the porch to the driveway. My lawncare man has trimmed a tiny bit but not nearly enough from a few of the branches so I dragged the long yellow outdoor cord and the trimmer out and set to the business of seriously cutting back the growth. It was so exhausting that I had to sit down on the bench on the patio before I could clean up. When I got back into the house it was getting dark and I took a 600 mg. Tylenol to help ease the aching and that was before dinner and my evening dose of Ibuprophen.
A policeman came up to our car where my father had been starting to teach me to drive. The policeman said, “Please, don’t have your accident on my watch!” Then he walked back to his patrol car and drove away. When he left my lesson resumed. I was fifteen years old. My father worked shifts which changed every week so he was not available to teach me on a regular basis. Between the ages of 16 and 18 I went through 6 temporary licenses. He would not let me take Driver’s Ed in highschool because it was just teaching that would not culminate in my getting a license so why spend the extra money when he could teach me just as well. At some point on one of our lesson drives as I was about to turn into the Eastgate Shopping Center I said, “Dad, my foot is on the brake and your foot is on my foot.” While he wanted me to learn my father was also concerned about the safety of the car. My sister, almost three years younger than I was driving by age 18 and owned her own car soon after she started working full time. When I moved away from home at age 23 I was still unlicensed. Some of my younger cousins, who lived on a farm, had been driving tractors and farm vehicles by the time they were eleven years old. By the time I was twenty-five, my friend and roommate, Carol who had inherited a car from her grandfather told me I needed to take driving lessons, and I did just that. From a different instructor than my father, I learned more things which I still remember when I am behind the wheel. The advantage he had that my father did not, was an extra set of pedals on the passenger side of the car so he could take over if I got in trouble. This experience did result in my earning my first driver’s license. When Carol and I moved to California, she owned a hippie van and she insisted I drive it when I needed to get to classes and she did not have to drive me. I will never forget the time I stopped so close to the lowering cross bar at a train crossing that the bar scraped down the front of the van and as the train sped by I was quite shaken. It was with great amusement that I watched a dash cam video clip on the noon news yesterday of a policeman pulling up behind a motorist doing thirty miles an hour in the left lane of a highway and the car neatly and safely pulling over to the shoulder, stopping and opening the driver’s door to find that the driver was a five year old child who was mad a his mom for saying no when he asked her to buy him a Lambourghini. He took his three dollars and the car key and set off to buy one himself.
On my way back home after a podiatry appointment I stopped at Walmart because they usually have an extensive assortment of vitamin supplements which my regular store does not and the health food store I used to go to in Parma has closed for good.
Milling around inside I found the choice of supplements had seriously dwindled and I only selected one item. That one I left on a counter as I was leaving after seeing the length of the lines at the check out stations.
My next stop was the main large grocery chain store, also en route home. There was a sign on the door that said 427 people were allowed into the place at one time. I did not see any thing or anyone counting and it did not look very crowded so I entered behind a cart. This store has its own bakery and beginning on Sunday late afternoons they begin marking down some of the breads and pastry. I picked out 4 loaves of bread of which 3 would go into the freezer at home.
At the meat counter, while I was maintaining social distance and squinting to read labels, a young man somewhat next to me was trying to decide which of two large slabs of beef he would buy. After a short few minutes he turned to me and asked, “Am I in your way ma’am?” Slightly startled I said, “No. Not at all!” He continued his deliberating and I left, realizing that my hovering irritated him. When I got back he was gone and I spotted one of the workers adding packages of meat to the bins so I asked her if they carried lamb and she showed me where the remaining choices were. I picked out a nice one and went on.
Standing in a check out line I saw another lane empty and a lady zoomed into the vacancy and seemed suddenly to realize that others had been waiting ahead of her so she asked one man if he wanted to go ahead and in an impatient retort he said he did but maybe another lady who had been there longer would like to go. That lady declined so he stepped forward. Clearly the restrictions of the lockdown are wearing on some nerves.
This afternoon I got a short walk in and am now reading a collection of poems called A Thousand Things Worth Knowing by the Irish born Paul Muldoon, poetry editor of the New Yorker Magazine.
A month has passed since St. Patrick’s day and all of the cancelled celebrations and parades due to the Covid19 virus eruption. This past Tuesday I went to the store and enjoyed seeing the lovely flowering trees in blossom as I drove along. Today the wintry mix turned to snow for the second day in a row and covered the blossoms, tree limbs and lawns with an accumulation of about three inches of snow. My good neighbor Richard, across the street pushed my trash tub up the drive to its place behind the recycling tub. This kindness, which I greatly appreciated, saved me from having to go out into the mess and cold.
The city designated the smaller tub as recycling but they do not actually recycle plastic of any sort. They were selling clear water bottles to China but that market ended, so I have little idea where the plastic really goes. My fear is that the garbage dump is where it gets buried. In fact I saw some documentary a few months back to support that supposition.
After hauling the soup kettle out of the dishwasher I found I still had to give it a scrubbing before using it. Once it looked clean enough, I filled it about 2/3 full of water and put it onto the stove, turning on the gas and then adding the spices. Salt, Pepper, parsley, a dash of caraway, and a spoon of the bouillon from a jar. Then diced up onion and diced up celery (about 3 stalks), about half cup of barley. Not everyone likes the barley as much as I do, so they may add less.
A can of stewed tomatoes (because my mother always put them into her beef soup) and a tiny can of tomato sauce. I peeled 3 large carrots and added them whole. I used to slice them up into tiny slabs but read that they should be cooked whole. That certainly saves time. There was half of a cabbage left from the corned beef dinner a few weeks back so I chopped it into chunks and then shredded each and added to the soup. The last ingredient is a can of kidney beans, which is optional. My mother never put beans in her beef soup, but it doesn’t hurt and since Dr. Oz said we should eat beans every day, I decided to add it. I let the soup cook until it smells wonderful and that will be dinner for several evenings.
There are about 145 of the near 500 pages to read yet in The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, my current read. She is such a good writer, I have never been disappointed when picking one of her novels to delve into.
Daylight is fading fast as the massive grey storm clouds are blown across the sky. I finally got outside to take pictures of the blossoms on my neighbor Donna’s Tulip Magnolia tree before the storm sends them scattering to the ground or the cold turns the petals brown as happens when frost follows the spring warm up that opens the flowers too soon.
First I got pummeled by raindrops and then in a gust of wind the rain transitioned to pin point sized dots of snow. I was glad to turn around and get back into the warmth of my home.
It is hard to believe that this is Holy Thursday and that Easter Sunday is just a few days away. Cars I don’t often see are parked in driveways down the street. People are taking the lockdown seriously and it is working but we still have to stick with the restrictions longer than was originally suggested. We have been advised that yesterday and today are critical days in the advance of the Covid19 virus in this part of Ohio. I folded a kerchief into a mask as demonstrated on Facebook by the daughter of one of my cousins who is an accomplished crafter. It worked very well when I went to the store for the last time this past Tuesday.
I’ve gotten a few things mended but the heap of what is waiting to be done is still deep. My cousin, Theresa, has called me once or twice a week for each week we’ve been concerned about this pandemic and I am grateful for her thoughtfulness. A few friends and my sister and a couple of other cousins have called and in turn I have also called others hoping to keep in touch by voice, at least. I don’t mind the slower pace of things. The days still roll along even though I am not crossing town for any reason. Just keeping up with dishes, laundry, e-mail and Facebook fill the hours for me. I do miss the people I normally see every week, but I do think of this halt as temporary.
In small ways normalcy continues, making coffee and toasting bread, watching the tail end of The Price is Right and then the noon news. I am grateful for that. For the first week after the frantic announcements about the advance of Covid19 virus onto our shores and the mass return of multitudes of Americans from all over the world, all of the normal programming was pre-empted by speeches by the President and a few other major players regarding the soon to be labeled, Pandemic.
After listening to the first half hour of suggestions like washing one’s hands often and the soon to be determined stay at home and shut down, hopefully, temporarily, of any unnecessary businesses including church gatherings, I could not stay tuned and found an obscure channel with a few doctors who talked about other medical issues. One of the things I learned from them was that all apples are not alike. Red delicious and Fuji have the most flavonoids, and are therefore, the best choices.
Today being Sunday, most channels were showing infomercials for everything from cookware to real estate and how to buy on line. I ended up watching a PBS program about a Cellist who was also a teacher. The feature showed about eight or so of his students from their early childhood through adulthood. I allowed myself the luxury of listening through the end and remembered music as I have known it.
My paternal grandfather played a violin a bit and his father was a maker of the instruments as well as a player. Great grandfather’s nickname was “king of the gypsies” and he played at weddings and local gatherings. Each son in the family played a stringed instrument. I believe that my grandfather’s eldest brother, our Uncle Mike, played the cello.
When my Aunt Bernadette was a child, she had piano lessons and I sat on the couch and listened to her play. I asked my mother if I could have lessons too but she said we did not have the money.
My cousin Barbara started violin lessons as a child and grew into professional musician and still teaches violin. When my daughter was under three years of age, I signed her up for Suzuki violin lessons in our town of Sunnyvale, California. After a full year of lessons and some music camps in the mountains, she clearly had no interest in applying herself and I ended the lessons.
Listening to the cello students and teachers today made me again think about things I have learned through my life and wonder, as I often do, where my place in the big picture is. With the shifting of life as we knew it to whatever it is becoming, I cannot help but wonder how all of the pieces will fall into place.
It’s been twenty years since my father passed away. Had he lived, last year he would have celebrated his 100th birthday. He might have been surprised to know that not all of his words of wisdom simply evaporated after he issued them. When he retired he enjoyed taking the local bus from his home in the suburbs of Cleveland downtown to spend a little time in the stock brokerages chatting with others as they tilted their heads to view the ticker tape rolling by with current information about stock prices. One time he mentioned talking with an older wiser gentleman who said, “The American people have no idea what they are in for!” The man did not elaborate, nor did my father speculate aloud about what that kind of warning might mean.
In my part time work scanning and electronically filing documents for a financial planning company, I sometimes come across an interesting article that I may read and tuck away into my mental filing system. One such article was called Black Swan, which was defined as an unexpected, very bad situation which had the potential to effect massive numbers of people and leave devastating results.
As a mother I often pointed out to my children, every action has a reaction.
The Covid19 virus which has become a pandemic and disrupted normalcy around the world could, in my opinion, be considered a Black Swan. In this very early stage of the impact that virus is having here in the United States, the “social distancing” required to help flatten the curve is causing havoc. Under orders from our governor, schools at all levels, restaurants, bars have closed and offices, including mine has key employees working remotely from home. Gyms and recreation centers, movies and theatres are closed. All of the Catholic Churches are closed through Easter with a dispensation from the Cleveland Diocese for the requirement to attend weekly Mass. All international travel but business has been cancelled and Americans all over the world are coming home; the jam at O’Hare airport was unprecedented. The financial impact will surely be astronomical.
Yesterday I read an article on Facebook about Larry Brilliant, an epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox. Since 2006 he has been warning about the potential of a pandemic. His warnings have been unheeded. He delivered his views on the Ted Talks 14 years ago explaining how a billion people would get sick, 165 million could die in a pandemic. The economic stresses would lead to “…global recession and depression.”
The experience has been surreal and I imagine we are just at the beginning stages. Fasten your safety belts, folks! We are going to have a rough ride!!