CHECKING IN FOR 2021


We were all ready to see  the past year of 2020 come to an end.  An even year that was odd in many ways.  A pandemic raged around the world and the President of the United States was impeached.  2021: The pandemic is still with us and the President of the United States is impeached…again.  Wait!  Deja vu will not overtake us!  There is hope:  democracy survived and vaccines are arriving. 

Meanwhile, back on the coast.  Odds and ends of life.

This year I will not be volunteering again for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) through United Way of the Coastal Bend.  I started out last year in January but COVID finally shut it down.  This year it started up again in February with different arrangements, again because of COVID.  Clients will be able to leave their documents of copies of documents in a sealed envelope.  Then they will be called back in about a week to review the return, make any changes or corrections and sign the return for filing.  I will really miss volunteering this year, but I thought it best to avoid additional exposure.  Maybe next year.

Good news on the exposure  side.  Husband and I had been on a waiting list for a COVID vaccine through our doctor’s office as the practice is affiliated with a large hospital.  Monday we were called in for our first dose of Pfizer and scheduled for our second one in three weeks; we are in Tier 2.    It was an easy process.  No side effects so far.

Yes, 2020 was a rough year as the pandemic affected us all in some way.  For many the financial impact made it even worse compounded by the uncertainty of when it would end.  Deaths continued as Americans debated the merits of in-person voting versus mail- in ballots to elect a president.  Schools opened and closed.

And life went on with love, laughter and loss. Babies were born and couples married. New careers were launched. I have learned not to take anything for granted.  Each day is a gift.  The seasons came and went as usual while we modified holidays and activities to include masks and social distancing.   Yes, we are  still a divided country in many ways, but surely there is more that unites us.  We will get through this.

New Orleans cancelled Mardi Gras parades this year because of the pandemic.  But you cannot stop the spirit of NOLA.  Residents were encouraged to transform their homes into floats.  There is a book, Porches on Parade, How House Floats Saved Mardi Gras.

Laissez les bon temps rouler – Let the good times roll!

Below is a link for the book.  A portion of the proceed will be donated to local artist funds.  If you scroll down, you can see some of the houses.

https://book.pediment.com/mardi-gras-2021-porches-on-parade-hardcover-book/?variant=328993671414

“Let It Snow” or “Stayin’ Home”


With colder weather hitting parts of the country, including snow in some places, I thought it would be a good time to share this parody of “Let It Snow” that Husband wrote.  His clever ditties and songs always make me smile.  And these days I am grateful for anything that makes me smile.  At the end there is a rendition of the song by Dean Martin, one of my favorites.  The thermometer on our patio this morning read 50 degrees – cold for us.  Enjoy whatever your weather and stay well!

This was taken at Briar Cottage on Christmas Day 2004 when we had a rare snow.

Stayin’ Home

Oh, the Covid outside is frightful,
But inside Briar Cottage it’s delightful,
And since we can’t go out to roam,
We’re stayin’ home, stayin’ home, stayin’ home!

In spite of what Trump might say,
Covid won’t just go away.
And even though you might use bleach to clean,
It won’t protect you like a vaccine!

So I’ll wear a mask while shoppin’,
To protect you if I’m breathing deep or coughin’,
And even though it breaks my heart,
When were together we’ll be six feet apart!

 

Yes, I think Ike would like Frank!


Ike Campaign Button

In 2012 I wrote a post about the controversy  over the design of a planned memorial honoring the Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during WWII  and 34th president, Dwight D. Eisenhowser.  Frank Gehry was to be the architect.  That post can be found here,  “Will Ike like Frank?

The Eisenhower Memorial will be dedicated today after almost ten years of planning.   It is located in Washington, D.C.  near the National Mall.   I think Ike would approve of the final design.

National Public Radio had an excellent description by Susan Stanberg with good photos.  You can read her review or read it.  The link is here at Eisenhower Memorial, NPR.

The “I like Ike” campaign button reminds us of a time when presidential campaigns were a bit tamer than the one facing us in 2020.

 

 

Saying good-bye to my sister and singing hymns and drinking wine


It rained. A steady yet gentle rain came straight down on the cemetery, wrapping it in privacy. Discreet sign reminded us to social distance. We made our way slowly toward the place where we would say good-bye to her. There was the usual covering over the grave site but no chairs. There was no escape from the reminders of COVID-19. At first we paused at the edges of the shelter with our umbrellas, as if afraid to get to close to each other. Gradually we moved in just enough to get out of the drizzling wetness. Some stayed along the edges with umbrellas still up to keep them dry. It was a private service with less than two dozen people attending. Masks hid our smiles but not our tears. Ours is a hugging family; we hug when we first meet; we hug when we leave. Not many hugs on that day.

No minister. Service led by her granddaughter. A prayer, a bible reading. Poetry readings. One written by the granddaughter. One written by my sister to be read at her service. A hymn, “When We All Get to Heaven” sung by Alan Jackson, played on a small speaker. Each of us placed a white rose beside her urn and a spray of flowers.   A prayer. We left in the rain. I will miss her bright spirit.

BARBARA ANN MITCHELL
1935 – 2020

Pre-pandemic we would have gathered after the service at a church or a home for food and fellowship. Not today. Daughter and Son came home with Husband and me. We sat in the living room, silently at first, as we drank wine. Bottles of cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay had been opened. Talk of hymns. I was too far out of practice to play any on my out-of-tune piano, so Son called up hymns from his phone and played them on the small speaker used for the service. Daughter, Son and I sang along across the room from each other. So many memories. Don’t attend church these days but I knew the words to every song called out. Husband must have thought the three of us were a little crazy. Wine and hymns? In the pandemic of 2020 it seemed an acceptable thing to do when you lose someone. 

 

MY SISTER AND ME
circa 1948

LIFE GOES ON


Just what we didn’t need, a hurricane in the middle of a pandemic. Hurricane Hanna chose not to keep her distance or stay at home. Instead she chose to waltz into the Gulf of Mexico and make landfall on the Texas coast as a category 1 hurricane without much warning. The eye of the storm came in just south of Corpus Christi with some wind damage and flooding caused by rising water but no loss of lives. We were fortunate but hurricane season is just beginning.

My plumbago blooms; the cactus blooms.

President Trump tweets daily and plays golf on the weekends.

We order groceries online and do curbside pickup. A sister dies.

And life goes on. I am grateful for every day.

FRIDAY FOTO: DEATH AND HOPE


 

A couple of weeks ago we went out to Freer to celebrate my brother-in-law’s 92nd birthday.  It was a beautiful clear crisp day with just enough warmth to make you want to soak up the sun after being hunkered down at home.  Then we saw the vulture perched defiantly on a light pole as if waiting for something to die.  Yet to its right and just below was an equally defiant bird – a male cardinal resting on a dead limb.  Neither flew away as Husband took a photo.

The tranquil scene seemed to me a perfect relection of this time in the middle of a pandemic.  Yes, there is death and the threat of dying, but along side the darkness there is hope.  While a vulture conjures up thoughts of death and decay, the cardinal is seen by some as a sign of a departed loved one or at least a good omen or good luck.  My mother always told me to make a wish if I saw a cardinal.  That day I put two fingers to my lips, made a wish and blew it a kiss as my mother had taught me when I was a child at this same place.

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FRIDAY FOTO: CAT IN A CAR


 

On one of my walks this week I had to stop and see who was driving this car parked in front of a house.  No, it was not the cat and the car was not running.  The window was rolled down.  The cat turned to look at me and seemed to pose as I took my phone from my pocket to take this photo.  It just calmly looked at me as I continued on my way.   When I came back that way it was gone – the cat, not the car.

Cool cat!  I wonder where he wanted to go?

 

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA


“Love in the Time of Cholera”
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The title of this book by a Colombian Nobel prize author has been running through my head like a song ever since this virus hit our shores.  Weird, I know.  Of course,  it is not cholera or a plague but it has become a pandemic.

Published in Spanish in 1985 and into English in 1988, it is not about cholera at all and cholera was not even mentioned until late in the book.  Rather is is about love, marriage, aging and the inevitably of death as the destiny of us all.  Two young lovers, platonic only, are pulled apart by family and the girl eventually marries an older man.  They never completely lose touch over the years and reconnect when the husband dies.

It is not an easy read, but perhaps I should go back and read it again since it seems to haunt me in this life in the time of OVID19.

Husband and I are doing well as we hunker down at home in Briar Cottage.  We have the usual stock of groceries and are prepared as we would for hurricane season that starts June 1 .  I may have slipped in some extra bottles of wine.

This virus has touched all of our lives with a common thread all across the country and even to the rest of the world.  Suddenly we all face the same threat on a global scale.  The OVID19 knows no borders.  There will be pain and loss.  Life will not go back to the way it was when this pandemic ends.  Yes, we are apprehensive about the unknown and fearful about the financial impact too.  That is normal.  But we are strong together and will get through this.

May we learn from it and never take even the ordinary and routine for granted:  handshakes… hugs… going to work…enjoying a concert… sitting down in a restaurant…visiting a nursing home… exploring a museum…dropping kids off to school…shopping at Macy’s… grocery stores filled with everything we need…  gathering with friends and family in any number… and the list is endless.

Perhaps we did need a time out to be shaken from our complacency to look around and be grateful for what we have.  May the divisions that have been dividing this country be replaced with civility and the acknowledgement that we are all in this together.

Maybe love is the answer in the time of OVID19.  Take care of yourself, help others when you can and don’t lose hope or your sense of humor.  Cheers!

RANDOM RAMBLINGS


Basil in my kitchen window.

My last post was December 1 when I posted a poem by Ron Koertge to mark World Aids Day. So it seems I have experienced my usual  winter blogging slump even though it has been a very mild winter for us.  March has arrived and tomorrow will be in the 80s again so I have no valid excuse.  Here is my offering of random ramblings.

“If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.” – Mark Twain

Texas is now one of the fourteen states that  holds its primary elections on “Super Tuesday,” March 3.  In Texas if you are over 65 years of age you are allowed to mail in a ballot.  Husband and I decided to take advantage of our senior status and voted by mail for the first time.  At first we were reluctant; mailing in a piece of paper was too easy; it was our duty to go down to the polls even if we had to stand in long lines (we seldom had to do that!); we would miss the civic pride being there with our neighbors as we cast our votes at the community center.  Of course, during a primary election, the Democrats would line up for the room on the left: the Republicans went to the right.  At least that is the way it works in the booming city of Portland.  Yes, we vote on the left.  One advantage in voting by mail was that we hadplenty of time to see who is on the ballot and research any candidates down ballot that we were not familiar with.

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Yesterday I finally planted the herbs (basil, oregano and cilantro)I bought a week ago in pots for the patio.  Part of my death cleaning was getting rid of some pots.  Most were in the process of passing peacefully, but some I simply had to abort.  All of my plants are on the patio and under shade and usually only get nothing but rainwater until about late August when sometimes my rain barrels run dry. 

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Have you done your taxes yet?  I am volunteering again through United Way of the Coastal Bend for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA).   Last tax season I went in four days a week.  This year I am only volunteering one day a week and am grateful to be able help provide free tax preparation for those with a certain level of income.

“In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” – George Orwell

CHEERS!