Saturday, March 6, 2021

The Covid Journal

Back last March I decided that it would be interesting to chronicle the year in a Covid journal -- a little bit of writing, a little bit of art and painting.  I ended up completing Volume I last month  (who could imagine there might be a Volume II?) and thought I'd share a few pages. 

I'll be the first to admit the art isn't pretty. The sketches are rough, the writing often slants left or right.  But that wasn't the point. The point was to provide a record of life over the past year, to remember things. And maybe it will get passed down to the grands who will remember little of this time.

Our "year" began with a visit to Canada while Rick was headed to the trade show. I chronicled our dinner celebrating 24 years and the day we learned that things were considerably more serious than we had previously thought.

I wanted to remember what this was like -- the things we had to do, consider, think about. Things that were new to us.

There were the lifelines, like my computer....

....the daily tasks....

....time at the lake.

I wanted to remember how we were able to see friends for dinner -- separate food, tables set apart.

You couldn't forget the idiot students who started a super-spreader event in Michigan by heading to a bar on a summer evening.

Nor could I leave out current events, like the death of George Floyd...

...and the political situation...

How could I forget meltdown days?

That had been such a dark day -- but Rick helped make it be one of the best days at the lake by taking me on a road trip and into the first store I'd been in four months.

There were celebrations, too, like my birthday!

Those summer days at the lake were good ones, being able to periodically connect with friends outdoors who took the virus as seriously as we did, figuring out where was safe to shop and where wasn't, and enjoying the late summer harvest with tomatoes, corn and squash.
I thought this would have been finished long before the first of the year, but I actually finished shortly after January 6 and the riot in Washington, DC.
It's been almost a year since we shut down, changed our lives to accommodate a virus far smarter than e are. Now we've been vaccinated -- and still will be wearing masks and being aware of distance. 

My journal ran out of pages. If only Covid would run "out of pages," too.

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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Hints of Spring?

 March has come in more like a lamb than a lion, for which I am most grateful!

At the ditch, the ice is going out and the ducks and geese can choose from swimming to sunning on the still-frozen sections. 

The Canada Geese have returned, co-existing peacefully with their fellow water fowl.

It's still nippy enough, though, that more than a few were huddled, head under wing.

These icicles looked beautiful hanging from the eaves, but were repeatedly knocked down to prevent pulling on them too much (or landing on someone's head. They melted in a day.

I've notice my squirrel and bird friends were crowding the feeders. Since the big melt, they are here a bit less.


We've enjoyed some tasty dinners recently, including this salmon recipe from the New York Times using a dill and ginger paste for the salmon. Served with tiny potatoes with fresh tarragon and thyme and roasted Roma tomatoes with fresh herbs and cheese, we were more than satisfied.

The salad was good, too, with orange, blueberries, avocado, spinach and a dressing made with the orange juice.

Our snow is melting, with a week or so scheduled to have forty-degree or higher weather. And in the garden? A sign of spring -- the first daffodil sprout.

No, we won't see these materialize until April or early May and no doubt will fall under snow again -- but it is a sign! 

But till then, I leave you with another view of my woodpecker! Have a great weekend!

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Monday, March 1, 2021

Someone is Four! An Almost Normal Day

We were watching the Academy Awards and had been for most of the evening. We knew Molly had gone to the hospital a day or two before for observation for her pre-eclampsia as we awaited the birth of our first Baby Grand. We would get a call when things looked ready to pop. Rick finally went home and as the awards were wrapping up ("We'll be back in a minute with the winner of Best Picture!"), the phone rang, he came by within moments and we were off to the hospital in Livonia, where we began "the long wait."

It wasn't until the next day that I heard the mistakenly announced "La La Land" as Best Picture instead of "Moonlight." But sometime around two or three in the morning, we got the best award ourselves -- our first Baby Grand, a healthy little boy.

This past weekend, he turned four. And he was really geeked up for his party of close family members. He was dressed for the occasion.

We arrived early enough to pull him away from the International Space Station and get him into his birthday ensemble. 

Then mom arrived home with the balloons.

Always a big hit!

There were presents, of course. He's very into the planets and knows them all, so we got him some planet masks and pajamas, along with a board game and contribution to the college fund.

Then came the cake!  One must sample first! (To be honest, I think every one of the toddlers there swiped at the frosting before the candles were lit!)

Little Bro was enjoying it just as much as the birthday boy.

 Then it came time for the big blow!

Let's just say that I passed up a piece of cake. Between little fingers savoring the decor on the side and numerous blows (because of course, extra candles were added), I figured I could give it a pass!

The only bad moment of the day was when we came out of the house and realized someone had plowed into the side of Rick's car. It was a bit puzzling -- a wide street, a beautiful, sunny day with no ice or snow on the road -- how could it happen? There was a big dent and some scraping, fortunately all on one panel of the back door. There was no note and you can imagine, Rick was not happy. But when Kevin checked with the next door neighbor to see if their security camera had recorded anything, the neighbor fessed up right away and he and Rick will work something out.

Rick and I took off after cake and took the scenic way home, first stopping at the Italian market. I thought this cover on an Italian magazine pretty well summed up life in the U.S. these past six months.

Then a quick stop at Duluth Trading Company, just to see what it was all about. I was surprised how many clothes they had. If I didn't have enough hand lotion to stock my own spa, I would have bought some of the orange-grapefruit, which smelled great and didn't set me into sneezing and coughing fits like most fragrance does!

It was a gorgeous day and fun to get off the expressway and see life on what used to be the main road to Detroit in the days before highways. There was more sprawl than we would have liked to see between small towns but also some beautiful countryside. And look! Our snow is beginning to melt!

The road we took passed by the cemetery where my dad's parents and earlier generations were buried. It was a gorgeous day, so we stomped about in the snow, scraping away some of the snow. 

All in all, a mostly perfect day -- and best of all, an almost normal one. It will be a long time before I feel comfortable in the company of others, but it was a wonderful first step.

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Friday, February 26, 2021

A Little Bit Stir Crazy

Would I be as sick of winter if we weren't still more or less shut in, awaiting Covid Vaccine Freedom Day? Oh, yes. No question. I'm done.

Rick was out of town on Saturday last week and I decided I'd do two things: stop at wine store that has curbside delivery and get their six-for-sixty package and then get take-out. Coral Gables is a pretty old restaurant in my town and the one where (in days of yore) I would meet with my former work colleagues for lunch. I want to keep them in business. And they bring the food to the car. 

Our gang, in the days when we went to a restaurant

Now, the city had plowed in my driveway a bit when they were plowing the street and it wasn't bad but I figured I'd best hit it pretty hard to get out. So I did. Let's just keep a couple of things in mind: when you have a lot of snow, your driveway seems to get more narrow throughout the winter. And, when you are going fast, it's best to go straight -- and not drive into a snowbank.

I am so fortunate to have great neighbors who both dug and pushed me out, and then blew out the offending driveway-blocking snow for me. Yes, the pizza was cold but there are remedies for that! And it was very good.

I'm reading a lot of posts about how everyone is just about "up to here" with staying in. Monique sent me a link to this video by The Marsh Family, a family of six who live in Kent, England, and have fabulous voices and a tremendous sense of humor. I laughed and I needed to laugh. I hope you enjoy. (You might want to check out their other videos, too!) 

I'm coming back "to" after a period of low motivation and today finally got the Christmas things put away in the basement, freed from the totebags in which they were taken downstairs. I still have my Happy Tree up, but it isn't long for this world. I'll miss it. (It will be down by this weekend.) And, since the guest room was a catch-all for "things you don't want to deal with," I pretty much have that under control, too. (The bed there has now become Lizzie's afternoon napping spot.) 

Rick went to Indiana to meet up with his niece and ski a bit. He was then to take her to her train back to Massachusetts and head home the next day. She had a negative Covid test and has been careful and they thought "no problem." Well, Rick found out that Indiana is not really big into enforcing masks. The hotel, which is more like an outdoor sports theme park in the winter, was filled with unmaskers. Inside. Restaurant, halls, everything. 

I have rarely seen Rick so freaked about anything related to Covid but this was too much. Even though he kept masked and had two vaccinations, he isn't outside the waiting period. So he decided that he would get a Covid test this week -- it was that bad. No distancing. No masks. No brains. I'm sure he's OK but we're keeping more stringent space till he gets results. (This just in! Negative test, yay!)

Speaking of which, if you are having difficulty finding places in your area to sign up for the vaccine, check out the link at Vaccinefinder. I was surprised to see many places in my community I didn't know were doing the vaccinations. I'm sure age ranges might vary state to state, but it's something to work with if you can.

I started this post on Rick's computer. I am finishing it on mine. It wasn't the hard drive. It still has its issues but my computer goddess, Kim, has it going a bit faster. She said it was doing really well on her internet but when we plugged in here, there were still issues. So, maybe part of the problem is Comcast. In any event, I'm still on the market for a new one, but it seems a bit less urgent now.

The weekend is here. And I know a little boy who is turning four!

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Saturday, February 20, 2021

A Book for Rick

A few posts back I mentioned that I was making Rick his annual Valentine's Day "yearbook." 

Book from 2015

Traditionally I have written poetry and compile it into a somewhat creative book. (Some years more creative than others!) Sometimes it is handwritten, sometimes typed, always a one of a kind. Usually there are 10 or so poems that cover a range of topics: biking, travels together, Lizzie (or before that, Gypsy -- the "cat in the hat" who brought us together), the kids. You get the idea. 


Books have been large and small. The pop-up book nearly killed me. And I confess, I never seem to start this until far too near to Valentine's Day. I work well under deadline but sometimes that can kick you in the teeth.


This year my muse vanished. At least, my language muse vanished. I couldn't think of a rhyme to save my soul. Well, a few -- trust me. Stephen Sondheim would not be impressed. 


And really, when you think about it -- what was there to write about? After mid-March, the only place we went was to the lake. You could come up with a poem about masks (basks, casks, tasks...) or social distance (I had a few thoughts on that), but nothing was gelling.

Maybe 2014

But what I did have was a collection of photos from the year. Rick's January concert. Our rare but precious visits with the kids. Lake time. Cycle time. Our walk on Mother's Day. I had photos to work from and I had paint. 

This book ended up being a challenge because there were a lot of paintings and I'm no portrait artist! But as Monique reminded me, "it's the memory that matters." 

One of my favorite photos from our walk had Rick gazing into a reflecting pond. So, "Reflections 2020," came to be. 

This year's collection!

It features one adequate poem and 19 pages of paintings (some of those pages had two paintings) and written material chronicling our personal and world events in the year.

Here are a few pages: Rick's January concert.

Our dinner out, celebrating 24 years together.

Our walk on Mothers Day.

The introduction of masks to our lives.

A distant dinner with the kids.

Events at the lake -- on wheels, by the fire...

Rick's birthday, with his Cooper Hawk and bread and wine.

The flowers he brought me from his kayak paddle.

Hanging out at the lake.

Rick's take on Covid hair.


Autumn at the lake.

A mortgage payoff and a ride with a friend.

Our last time seeing the kids in 2020.

A big project. And fortunately, he loved it! Maybe the words will return next year!

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