Monday, March 30, 2020

Getting Their Goose On

It's nesting season for geese here in Colorado.  It will last until July.  I have no photos, alas, but trust me when I say a great cacophony goes on all day, every day.  There is a large group of them down the road and I can watch from my house as they couple and do their mating dances.  They are almost as loud as the BNSF trains that roar by the house several times a day -- and night.  I'd much rather hear the geese.

Six kinds of geese are about, but I have no idea which I'm watching these days.  Brant, cackling, Canada, greater white-fronted, Ross' and snow. Bar-headed goose and emperor goose have also been found in Colorado; the bar-headed was even found to be nesting in Larimer County.  That's my county.

In addition to watching the geese, I've been recommended a movie called Crimp Camp.

I'm sure to like it, as it is about hippies and people fighting for their rights. Winning combination in my book. I'm going to make a matinee of it this very day. Stay well, everyone!

Friday, March 27, 2020

And I Dreamed I was Flying

Remember these two young pups? So long ago! Paul looks particularly handsome here, me thinks. Anyway, these videos from their concert in Central Park are wonderful in every way. Enjoy.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

These high school kids' concert was cancelled due to COVID-19. So here's what they did. Simply beautiful. Bringing joy and magic to us all.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Holy Smokes Boys and Girls

Is it beginning to register than this virus crisis is going to be months and not weeks? That's what I'm surmising from multiple sources. Yesterday I experienced my first panic attack over it. I woke from a terrible dream and immediately knew that two weeks of isolation was beginning to take its toll. I managed to get out for a walk in one of our lovely open spaces, and I took Lucy with me. There were plenty of people out, keeping good distances, and people with their children, dogs, bicycles, all enjoying a mild day after the equinox snow.

I spent an hour outside and boy, did it feel good. The sun on my face -- unbelievable!

Our Governor had a press conference this afternoon, announcing a new task force and new restrictions for employers of non-essential services. Each day this experience gets more surreal. My heart breaks for the country of Italy as the daily death count rises.

I'm trying to keep busy. I subscribed the the Masterclass series on-line and am enjoying the class with author David Sedaris. Next, I'm going to watch the photographer Annie Leibowitz. It's a way to stay engaged, build some skills in my creative life, and take my mind off the horrific news.

Friends from west coast to east are posting photos of empty and quiet streets in once busy cities. My only consolation is that Mother Earth is being given a break from humanity's destructive activity. Time for her to heal a little. I hope climate scientists come away with some persuasive data on our impact (like we don't know already).

How are you keeping sane these days? We may be staying in for 3 months, and that's a daunting bit of information. How do you do it? I guess we'll find out what we are made of.
My heart goes out to you all.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Music for our Planet

The Philadelphia Orchestra has shuttered its doors in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lead by Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, their final performance was livestreamed for more than half a million viewers at home. He spoke with Terry Gross, on Fresh Air radio program, about the unusual performance and how music comforts us in troubling times. I was struck by this man's eloquent words, that often times moved the show's host profoundly.

I was driving around Fort Collins in the snow, (yes, snow on the first day of spring!)  listening to the interview.  I had to get out of the house - first time in two weeks - and tour around town.  There was still car traffic out, but not many people walking on the streets, and most everything was closed tight.  Our food Co-op, tiny as it is, was open, but I dare not go in. Opened in 1972 (as so many co-ops were) it occupies a small building in the heart of the old town.  When this craziness has passed, I'll go back and do a little shopping.

By the way, NBC news had a piece on how you should handle, literally handle, food brought to you by restaurants.  Many people are supporting their favorite eateries by ordering take-out or delivery.  Key: get the food out of the packaging, discard packaging (preferably in your outside trash can) and then wash your hands thoroughly before eating your food.  They also recommended microwaving the food before eating it.

And, now, on to the performance.  This piece deserves attention and time, so if you don't have those two things now, come back when you do.  You will be most glad.  It's beautiful and uplifting, and I certainly needed to hear it for the joy it brought to me.  Be well, my friends.

There is an introduction and a commissioned piece of music, which is timely as it turns out, then Beethoven's 5th & 6th symphony.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Corona Virus Hits Home

Steve's Celebration of Life service has been cancelled due to the virus.  We are trying to slow the progression of the spread, especially at the retirement community where it was going to be held.

My doctor had already advised me not to fly.  I am self isolating, just to play it safe.  I went to the grocery store the other day and the lines were long, the toilet paper shelves were empty, and people were not observing the six foot distance from one another.  I needed to be there to pick up a prescription, and figured I'd get some food shopping in while I was there.

The Centers for Disease Control is in the process of doing targeted outreach to the elderly community and those that have serious underlying health conditions.  They are advising avoiding activities such as traveling by airplane, going to movie theaters, attending family events, shopping at crowded malls, and going to religious services.  This 'elderly' group surely doesn't mean me, does it?  Yes.  People over 60, especially since I have three underlying, chronic conditions.

This virus particularly hits the lungs, and with chronic asthma, that's not good.  Also, an illness like this would escalate my blood sugars to the extreme, and that is never good.

Another thing the CDC is recommending is to have a supply of prescription medications at home.  Supply chains may be disrupted.  My daughter went to refill a prescription yesterday and her insurance company would not pay for more than one month's supply.  Her out of pocket cost if she chose to get two month's worth would be $700.  And I know my insurance company will not cover more than a month's supply -- an issue I have raised before in these posts.  Seems to me there should be federal mandate for temporarily lifting these restrictions so people can have a back up supply if needed.

I am not panicked but I am aware.  I will take what precautions I can.  I was hoping to fly to France in April to stay with friends in the North, and then travel to Paris to scatter Steve's ashes there.  But I will postpone that one for sure.  He doesn't care.  He was unsentimental about those sorts of things and he never expressed a wish to have his ashes scattered in the Seine.  It's strictly for me, and his daughter thinks it is a grand idea.

I have been working with a grief counselor for the last couple of weeks.  What a difference it has made.  I got to the point where I was feeling desperate in my grief and becoming stuck and non-functional.  After just my second visit, a great weight was lifted off my shoulders.  The episodes of raw uncontrollable crying have abated.  The guilt of not being there with him has been put back into perspective and I have regained a certain peace about the whole thing.  The making of the book has been cathartic. 

The news on the virus seems to change every day, in that there are more cases every day.  We have seventy two confirmed in Colorado, and from what I've read, that probably means we have 700 unknown cases in the state.  It's going to get worse before it gets better.

I have plenty to keep me busy:  my house has never been more clean!

I hope you are coping with all the upheaval.  If you have recommendations for books or movies (on Netlfix or Amazon), let me know!  This may be a long period of staying close to home.

Friday, March 13, 2020

It Takes A Worried Man

I've been listening to the Kingston Trio since I was a tot. They were favorites of my parents, along with the Yarbirds, and Peter, Paul and Mary. I know so many of the KT songs by heart and many of them were what I first learned to play on the guitar. Some years ago I was lucky enough to see them in concert, and the guitarists strings broke and he quickly changed them during a break. I was next to the stage and asked if I could have those strings, and he put them in their paper packaging and handed them to me. I have no idea whatever became of them. I also recently read that Bob Shane, the last surviving member of the original Kingston Trio, died on January 26, 2020 due to complications from pneumonia. He was 85 years old.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Life in the Time of High Maintenance - Part Two

There are more maintenance items in my near future (but of course there are, you say). My osteoporosis is getting worse and we’ve got to come up with a plan for that, and my thyroid is dying a slow but certain death. I found that out because I insisted on the full range of thyroid tests and not just the standard TSH, which always comes out normal. Turns out, I have antibodies that are attacking my vital gland that regulates so much in the human body. I think about this whenever I feel sluggish or I have trouble reducing my body fat no matter how meticulous I am in counting calories and carbohydrates. I write my entire food intake down and watch my portion sizes. It's the theme of my adult life. And it kind of fries my butt that I had to insist on the test.

It’s a wonder that I have time to do anything else during my day, but I make the time for getting to the gym three days a week, a class once a week, visit my grandchildren once or twice a week if I’m lucky, and go to the occasional movie or concert. I have a yoga class once a week, and try to get out to meet up with a friend once a week.  Tomorrow I'm going to The Wildlife Sanctuary with a friend, weather permitting.  The place comes highly recommended.

I spend a ridiculous amount of time on Facebook or surfing the net (NYT, PBS). I watch movies on Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. I am very fond of Nova science programs on PBS, and the delightful and endlessly interesting show “Finding Your Roots” also on PBS. I do read, though not as much as I used to. My mind tends to wander and it takes me forever to get through a book. Just eight years ago I had on average three books on my bedside table at any given time. Reading a book takes dedication to creating the right space and time to do it properly. The goal is to get back to it in earnest.

I have also just signed up for the Masterclass series on line, the class presented by author (and super human being whom I’ve met twice) David Sedaris finally convinced me to slap $180 down for a full year of unlimited classes. Other classes include Joyce Carol Oates and Margaret Atwood. As a photography enthusiast, the Annie Leibovitz class is a must.

And, of course, I am grieving the passing of my husband, which sometimes feels like a full time job. This grief is nuts, I tell you. One day I get through it with just a few tears, the next I am leveled by my emotions and the amount of crying that I go through. And the anger is returning; the anger I felt when he kicked me to the curb on my birthday last June. The hurt and grief of losing him to his selfish, ego driven impulses was big then.  I've found a super grief therapist who is helping me sort all of these tangled feelings.  It's helping me set aside the traumatic last months together and appreciate the bulk of our short time.   I do recall, fondly, all the good times we had together. Since we were both retired, we were able to plan activities and trips whenever it worked for our open schedules.  A friend of mine recently said, "You did not find each other by accident."  Who knew we would have such a brief moment on earth together?  Being with him allowed me to travel the world, something I'd not done up to that point.  I'm going to miss those travels, and his partnership on those adventures.  The good food, the wine, the sheer delight of being in a new land.

So the wheel turns.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Leonard Cohen

I am a devotee of Mr. Cohen, God rest his soul. Years ago I watched the documentary "I'm Your Man" about his life and work. Plenty of fantastic performances in there by various artists. This first video of Antony Hegarty singing "If it be Your Will" is one of my favorites. I'd never heard of Antony before. And now she is known as Anohni. I don't know her background and when she transitioned to female, but I find it just adds to my admiration of her talent.

The next video is one that always, always makes me cry. It is a powerful protest song, and the words just knock me out. "I can no longer run with that lawless crowd, while the killers in high places say their prayers out loud." Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen do a bang up job. They used to be back up singers for Leonard. I've been lucky enough to attend two concerts of Perla's, and to meet and speak with her. She's a jewel. By the way, she's the one dressed in white.

Monday, March 2, 2020

We Are a Complicated Lot

Just when I think I’ve got it bad, you know, the deep and endless sadness of loss, I discover I’m not alone. I went out to get the mail today and walked to the boxes with my neighbor, Ann, who is 93 years old. She asked me how I was doing, and when I was going back to Davis for my husband’s service. So we chatted, standing in the new snow, a little chilly. She told me she’s just been experiencing the most horrible two weeks of her life. I braced myself. Her sixty-three year old son passed away from Lymphoma. He was her only child. She moved here from Davis to be close to him and his family. She said, “Nobody should have to bury their own child.” Damn right, Ann, nobody.

Oh, the burdens we carry.

I couldn't sit with her just then, but I will go by later today.   I’ll ask her to tell me about her son, what he was like as a boy, where did he go to school, that sort of thing. I will be crying right along side her.

Life does go on, though, doesn’t it? (Thankfully.) I had the family over for Sunday dinner and though Eden was sullen after his haircut (it’s a thing with him) he perked up when Lucy jumped into his lap. My ex came, too. It’s very nice to be friends with him again after all the acrimony of 29 years ago. He’s so good with the grands, and my daughter is beyond happy that her children get to be with both their grandparents on a regular basis.

My parents were pretty hands off when it came to grand parenting. My sisters and I were upset about it, but there was nothing to do. It caused me so much anguish over the years, softened only by the knowledge that her paternal grandparents were very loving and involved in her life.

I am happy to break the cycle in my family of origin, and be a very different kind of grandparent to my grands. Steve and his first wife were pretty hands off as well. He didn’t spend any kind of real time getting to know his grand kids, and these kids are delightful. He spoke lovingly of them, and he was proud of their accomplishments.  But involved?  No. 

The layers of grief and resentment his children feel are slowly revealing themselves. Here I was, grappling with his abandonment of me, but they have a life-time of resentment over his abandonment of them and then their children. It’s most difficult to square in my mind, how someone can be so loving and connected, seemingly open hearted and sensitive to life’s joys, but push away the very people who would add such richness to their lives.

We are a complicated lot.

Here’s a pretty photo of the sunrise the other day. I stepped outside to my very cold front patio to get this picture. I did it all for you, dear Reader.

You Can Go Home Again

 I took a vacation in the first week of May.  I went back to my high school and college stomping grounds, still populated by many friends of...