Part of this routine is a long walk every afternoon through our neighborhood,
As the days and weeks of sheltering in place at home have gone by, life for my mate and I has - as it probably has for our fellow quarantinees across the country around the world - settled into a more or less fixed daily routine.
Part of this routine is a long walk every afternoon through our neighborhood,
...which we've come to appreciate more than ever,
...now that it's the only place we ever go.
What we've been especially appreciating during our walks, besides the blooming spring trees,
...our neighbors also out walking late in the afternoon and their children out playing,
....has been the proliferation of chalk art and writing on the sidewalks done by the neighborhood children.
Chalk rainbows abound,
...as do suns, flowers, hearts,
...and free-form designs,
...as well as uplifting messages from the children reminding passersby to wash our hands,
...to social distance,
...to not worry and be happy,
...and that if we stick together we're going to be okay.
There are chalk notes to friends and teachers who are missed by the young writers.
The rain comes and washes away the chalk art, but then the next sunny day the chalk artists return.
"Hail Mary": A woman discovers the naked truth about herself.
...is available for a little while longer for pre-order at a 15% discount from Black Rose Writing at:
...and by using the promo code PREORDER2020.
"What? You're running? Patti Liszkay is running?
Not that it should be such a stretch that I've become a a runner, considering that I've been, in my day, a prolific walker,
Except that I've always hated running.
(Where, BTW, the rain DOESN'T mainly stay. Or at least it didn't when I was there).
Sure, I've walked all those environments and would again. But run around my nice suburban neighborhood? Or anywhere else, for that matter? Eh, no thanks.
I think my main problem with running is that it feels too turbulent: too much bouncing, too much jostling, physically and mentally. Jogging jogs my brain; I can't think while I'm running. Which is probably part of the point of running: to take a break from thinking, to clear the mind, a moving meditation. But then I don't like to meditate, either. The truth is, turning off the thinking, while it may be healthy for the mind from time to time, makes me feel antsy. So I fight it, which makes me feel more antsy.
Hence - strange as it may seem - running makes me feel very antsy, which is probably why I've always avoided it.
Enter COVID-19, and the gym is closed and the yoga classes are gone with the wind.
Which has left me, along with my fellow gym rats and yogistas, to fend for ourselves.
One can, of course, do the yoga moves by oneself in one's living room. But getting the aerobics in poses a bit more of a challenge. Still, it was a challenge I felt compelled to take up, for more of a reason than a fondness for aerobics.
...and that I was a few points away from glaucoma. A pressure reading of 22 meant glaucoma; my reading was at 19. Dismayed, I asked the doctor if there was anything I could do to bring down my glaucoma score. She recommended half an hour of daily aerobic exercise, anything that caused the blood to pump through the body including the blood the vessels in the eyes, which would help keep the vessels open. Or something like that. The doctor warned that exercise likely wouldn't bring my score way down, say, to a 12, but might lower it a few precious points.
And so I started religiously using the elliptical and other machines at the gym. And behold, within a year my eye pressure number had gone down to a 17. And so ever after I've made the effort to get the blood pumping daily.
But now, with the gym closed, I had to find a new modus operandi. Find a workout video and bounce around the family room in front of the TV? Run up and down the steps? I considered both those options. Then I decided to give running around outside another try. Perhaps there was the added incentive that running would also give me a reason to leave the house.
I've been running for about two weeks now. In the morning I roll out of bed, into my running clothes, and out of the house before I change my mind and go fix myself some breakfast instead.
The first few days I walked a lot and ran a little. Now I'm starting to run more and walk less.
"Do you hate it?" Claire asked me just today.
Well, no, surprisingly, this try around I don't. But I also don't love it.
Still, I do stop every now and then to take a picture of the neighborhood in the early morning light.
A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.
Epilogue (See yesterday's post):
Just as the masked, socially distancing bunnies appeared up and down the street early on Easter Sunday morning,
...early on Easter Monday morning all the bunnies up and down the street disappeared.
The bunnies always disappear on Easter Monday morning, come rain or come shine.
Unfortunately, on this Easter Monday morning it was rain.
Just as well the bunnies came down, they were all wet,
...some of them missing their masks.
When it's time to go, it's time to go.
One Easter morning many years ago, I arose just after sunrise after having spent most of the night up with a cranky baby. Dragged out and a weence cranky myself, I schlepped downstairs with said baby to start the day, such as it would be.
Baby in arms, I drew up the shade, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but my front yard full of brightly colored paper bunnies.
It took me a bit of sleuthing in the form of a walk through the neighborhood to discover that it was a neighbor a few houses down from ours who'd bunnied our front yard along with their own.
Anyway, the first sight of those paper bunnies so surprised and delighted me that I decided that from then on every Easter morning I would rise at dawn to bunny our front yard and that of our kind neighbor.
Back then we lived in Whitehall, an urban suburb of Columbus Ohio. I believe I kept up the Easter bunnying tradition for at least a couple of years, cutting out bunnies on construction paper from a cardboard template I made, then taping the paper bunnies onto bamboo skewers which I stuck into the lawns on Easter morning,
...though I think maybe by a few babies later I'd let the tradition lapse.
We moved from Whitehall to Gahanna, the next suburb over, shortly before the birth of baby number four. I don't remember how many years went by, but eventually - when my children were old enough to help me cut out, assemble, and distribute the bunnies at dawn on Easter morning - we returned to the tradition of bunnying, now doing every house on either side of the street on our section of the block, fourteen houses total. Each lawn was allotted 14 bunnies, so that came to a total of 196 bunnies, though I usually made a several more batches of bunnies to surprise friends who lived beyond our neighborhood. Hence we usually ended up assembling and then distributing in the wee hours of Easter morning around 266 or so bunnies.
I kept up the tradition of Easter bunnying after my own children were grown and gone, though in recent years the tradition lapsed again because for the past half-dozen years or so we'd spent Easter in Los Angeles with our grandchildren.
However this year, we, like the rest of the country, are at home for Easter. And so I decided to resurrect our Easter neighborhood bunnying tradition, this year with a twist to the times.
On Friday night Theresa and I cut out the bunnies from construction paper, 210 total,
...and on Saturday night we added a timely touch:
Then we assembled the bunnies, taping them to the skewers.
Next we color-collated them,
...then organized them into variegated groups of fourteen each.
This morning by 7 am Tom and I were out bunnying the neighborhood,
...while Theresa took off across town to bunny Tommy and Emily's house.
Of course, all the bunnies were six feet apart.
Happy Easter Everyone! Stay healthy!
Yesterday, Good Friday, the only responsible option for observances of the day being whatever could be done behind the walls of one's home with whoever else was residing there, my daughter Theresa came up with the idea after dinner of watching the movie "Jesus of Montreal."
This not-well-known but scintillating French-language-with-subtitles Canadian film is is one of my favorites. As many times as I've watched it, it never fails to inspire and move me, and watching it again last night I still found it thought-provoking and insightful. And the music is beautiful.
The story line is of a Catholic shrine in Montreal that draws pilgrims who come to see the Passion Play put on there every summer. However in recent years attendance at the play has been down. The priest who is the director of the shrine hires a young actor, Daniel, to write and direct a new, more modern production of the Passion Play to generate more interest and draw a bigger audience.
Daniel, who has just recently returned to Montreal after a time of traveling, researches the biblical and historical accounts of Jesus for his script,
...and seeks out among the fringes of the Montreal acting community several for the roles in his Passion Play. One by one, the actors drop what they're doing and go with Daniel.
The little troupe bonds,
...and under Daniel's direction they put on a relevant, radically new interpretation of the Passion Play which is a hit, begins drawing huge crowds and becomes the talk of the Montreal entertainment media.
As the story unwinds it plays out the gospel story of Jesus, with some interesting touches and engaging characters,
...a smooth media lawyer who takes Daniel to a fancy restaurant with a spectacular view of the city and promises Daniel that he could arrange for him to have it all,
"Jesus of Montreal" is definitely a movie that one has to watch several times to catch all the scriptural references and symbolism.
But if you've never seen it, this Easter weekend, when we're all locked down and feeling more in need of a little inspiration than ever, might be a good time for your first viewing. Or if you've already seen it, to see it again.
The only place we could find it streaming was on Youtube:
But it was a good production, and, as always, a great film.
Having now spent the better part of the past four weeks sheltering in place at home, I'm kind of amazed at all the things I used to do all the time that I don't especially miss.
I don't miss going to the movies. I watch movies on the TV in our family room instead.
I likewise don't miss going out to eat, finding myself with the time on my hands to fix more prodigious meals consumed at our kitchen table.
Nor do I miss zipping all around on a daily basis from Kroger's to Walmart to Meijer's to Giant Eagle,
...our daughter Theresa having been dutifully doing our grocery shopping for us.
But there was one thing I did miss, and that was my Panera Posse.
The Posse is my girl group that meets at Panera every Wednesday morning, though a Posse meeting may continue on well into the afternoon while we discuss, dissertate, dissect and group-think a plethora of topics,
The last time the Posse met was on Wednesday, March 3rd, and by the following week our excellent governor Mike Dewine,
...and our superlative Ohio Director of Public Health Dr. Amy Acton,
...were already warning us to start social distancing and avoiding public places.
I was subsequently missing my Posse at lot.
Oh, we'd call each other on the phone and chat one-on-one, which was good, but the tang and fizz of the group dynamic required the group.
Weeks went by, and I think it was me who suggested to the group via email that we try to figure out how to meet virtually on one or another of the video platforms out there.
However, all of us ladies being of a certain age,
...it took a couple of weeks before one of the members discovered Houseparty,
...an easy-to-figure-out app for group chats.
By last week most of us had figured out how to download Houseparty, and, hopefully, by next week we'll all be "in the house," as is the vernacular term for using the app.
It's not the same as all of us being together in person, but it's wonderful all the same.
The last time I saw my mother was Friday, March 13, three weeks and three days ago. It feels like an immeasurable amount of time ago.
Since my 99-year-old mother - now two-and-a-half-months from her 100th birthday - moved last November to the Sunrise senior care facility a mile from my house, I visited her every day with few exceptions. Until three weeks and three days ago.
The final week I saw mother - though I didn't know at the time that this was the actual final week, or maybe I did know; that week was one of such confusion and unsureness, the week we were all about to transition from life as we knew it to life as it's become - I tried to warn my mother every day that the day might soon come when I wouldn't be able to visit her for a while. I warned her over and over even though at that point I didn't fully grasp or yet believe the warning myself. Still, I tried to explain to her that there was an epidemic and that we were hearing that soon, any day now, maybe tomorrow, Sunrise would be closed to outside visitors. She'd always tell me that she understood, but when I'd see her the following day she'd have forgotten what I'd told her the day before.
The day came sooner than I realized it would. But that's how it went with the epidemic: it seemed to crawl up to us then suddenly it was upon us and life no longer went on as it had just a few days earlier. And so I saw my mother on Friday, March 13 and on Saturday, March 14 all the nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Ohio were under lock down. And a week or so later all of Ohio was under lock down.
Since then I've called my mother every day, sometimes several times a day, but these days it sometimes takes several tries to get through to her. I mean, to get through to her mentally. She no longer seems able to answer her own phone, and so I must call the desk at Sunrise and ask them to have one of the care givers dial my number and then press the speaker so that my mom can hear. Some days my mother's spirits and mental clarity have been good, other days she's been gripped by anxiety or confusion.
And yet, even on her most anxious, confused days, after I tell her that I can't come to see her because there's a terrible epidemic and we all have to stay home for a while she then comes around and rises to the occasion,
...and tells me that yes, we all have to stay home and stay healthy, and she urges me to do so.
(It's funny, but the times when this epidemic seems most weirdly unreal to me are the times when I'm on the phone telling my mother about the terrible epidemic for which reason we all have to stay inside. Every time I tell her this I feel like I'm in a scene from a science fiction movie; "10 Cloverfield Lane," to be specific, that flick about an alien invasion (or maybe not?) /environmental contamination situation (or maybe not?) that nonetheless has the movie's protagonists sheltering in place, though not always with relish).
The wonderful staff at Sunrise keeps in touch with the families of the residents,
The nurses and caregivers that I talk to tell me that my mom is doing well.
But I know she'd be better if she could see me. We both would be.
My heart goes out to everyone in whose shoes I'm walking.
To mask or not to mask? That has been the question for Americans since the coronavirus epidemic began ravaging its way across our country back in January. January 21, to be exact.
For months we were beset with confusing, contradictory, and distressing messages from health officials, government officials, government health officials, and Facebook friends over whether those of us who were not working in a health care capacity should be wearing face masks in public to help keep ourselves and others safe.
Within the past few days, however, clarity has finally come from the Centers for Disease Control on the subject: Yes, we should all be wearing masks to impede the spread of the coronavirus in the population.
Face masks, while they may not keep out virus droplets disseminated into the air by other people, do keep the droplets one exhales from escaping into the air and infecting other people. This is especially important as one can be carrying coronavirus without knowing it. Some infected people are asymptomatic, or have not yet exhibited symptoms, but can still spread the disease to others.
The idea, then, is we should wear a mask to protect everybody else, and everybody else should wear a mask to protect us; or, as Pat Toomey, Republican Senator of Pennsylvania, so eloquently put it, "My mask protects you. Your mask protects me." It's a beautiful, all-American concept.
However now the dilemma is, how does one acquire a face mask when there's a national shortage of masks even among health care workers? The solution that's being offered is that Americans should sew their own face masks. There are dozens of instructions online for how to sew a cloth face mask. But this requires owning a sewing machine - though, I suppose, one could buy a needle and thread and sew a mask by hand - and acquiring cloth and some elastic - but the Joanne's Fabric in my neighborhood is all out of elastic - though one could, I suppose, use shoe laces or strips of material to make a tie-on mask.
However, in truth, not all of us feel we have the acumen to sew a mask. I know how to sew, but, in truth, I haven't yet sewn any masks because...I don't feel like it. I don't like sewing. I never have.
But then this morning I happened to be scrolling down my Facebook page when I came across a post by my friend Lydia Freeman,
...who has designed a simple but brilliant disposable face mask made from one paper towel and two hair twisties.
Below is posted Lydia's link on how to make her disposable mask:
The process involves tearing off a sheet of paper towel and holding it in a diamond shape,
...folding the towel twice,
...slipping the twisties onto the folded towel,
...folding the ends of the towel across the middle,
...making a total of six layers of protection,
...and you've got your mask.
Slip it over your ears,
I tried making a paper towel mask myself following Lydia's instructions. It took me literally one minute to make.
And it fit fine.
Again, here's the link for the simple video instructions to make Lydia's No-Sew Disposable Mask:
Check it out!
My daughter Claire is a nurse who has traveled the world fighting disease and coming to the rescue with other nurses and doctors during health care crises in such places as Haiti,
...with her husband, Miguel,
...Sierra Leone during the Ebola epidemic,
...a refugee camp in Bangladesh,
...a hospital in Kurdistan,
...and the Bahamas last year after Hurricane Dorian,
Claire is now on the front line fighting the coronavirus epidemic in Chicago as the charge nurse of several COVID-19 Intensive Care Units recently set up in the downtown hospital where she works. On March 28 she sent to the family email chain a brief update on her work on the COVID-19 units which I thought I'd share:
I am taking a day off today after another run of busy days. Our two COVID ICUs were almost full by the time I left on Friday, so plans are to move patients out of other areas starting today and have another three COVID ICUs opened by mid-next week, with more to come in the next couple of weeks. This is in addition to the hundreds of general medicine beds they are putting together for those who do not require ICU care.
The army corps of engineers has arrived in town and are working to convert one of the convention centers downtown into a 3,000 bed unit as well.
As the charge nurse I am responsible for assigning beds and nurses to staff the beds. Near the end of the shift I put together the nursing assignment for the next shift. For my previous 32 bed unit this took about 20 minutes. Yesterday I spent over an hour trying to figure out how to staff the regular Medical ICU with the two COVID units. It was complicated by the fact that not all nurses can work COVID-some are high risk, and we are trying to keep them safe, too.
Though anxiety is generally running high, I have been overwhelmed by the solidarity of the staff. Most of the men showed up one day clean shaven so they could wear the respirator masks without a beard. (It was weird to see the faces of doctors who have had beards as long as I have known them!) Retired nurses are coming back and local restaurants have been sending in food everyday, which has been really nice. I stopped taking the train to work to avoid exposing myself or exposing others, given the nature of this COVID work. So, for the first time in the 9 years I have worked at this hospital I am navigating the parking garages. I'm carpooling with a couple other nurses who live nearby who don't have cars, which is super helpful and also nice to have some company on the ride in, even though it's only about 5 miles.
Today Miguel and I relaxed at home and ordered in, which we never do, but I figured we should support the local businesses, since the restaurants are closed to diners. I'm back to work on Monday.
Prayers are appreciated.
Like thousands of our fellow Ohioans across he state, Tom and I can be be found every afternoon at 2 pm, seven days a week, in front of our television watching Ohio Governor Mike Dewine's daily press conference.
By way of these daily briefings Governor Dewine keeps the Ohio citizenry informed and updated on the latest news and developments in our state on the coronavirus pandemic, including what steps are being taken, what strides are being made, and what directives are being issued at the state level to mitigate the spread of the virus, flatten the curve, and offer some economic relief to Ohioans.
Every day the Governor is joined at his press conference by Dr. Amy Acton, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, who elucidates the medical and scientific aspects of the covid-19 pandemic;
...Ohio Lieutenant Governor John Husted, who tends to cover the economic matters;
...and a couple of energetic, mesmerizing deaf interpreters.
Along with the latest updates, information and directives Governor Dewine, Dr. Acton and Lieutenant Governor Husted generally share with us some words of hope, inspiration, and always, always, always a plea to stay home and practice social distancing.
Last week Dr. Acton and Governor Dewine began talking about a new machine that had been developed by Battelle, a global scientific research and development company located in Columbus. It was reported that this machine could sterilize N95 hospital masks, up to 80,000 thousand at a time, so that these critically-needed masks could be reused by doctors, nurses and other health care providers who are putting their lives on the line by treating coronavirus patients without sufficient protective gear.
Battelle had already produced three of the mask-sanitizing machines which were ready for use; in fact, according to Governor Dewine, one machine would be for use here in Columbus, one wold be sent to New York, and one would be sent to Washington, D.C. Several more were in production to be sent to other coronavirus hot spots such as Chicago and Los Angeles.
However, there was a hitch; these brand-new machines had not yet been approved for safe and effective use by the Food and Drug Administration. For a few days Governor Dewine and Dr. Acton kept us apprised of their argument with the FDA to bypass the standard protocols on new technologies and give emergency approval for use of the sanitizing machines.
We'd been told last Saturday by Governor Dewine that he would skip the next day's press conference for the sake of giving everybody involved in the conferences a day off, unless some important news broke. Late Sunday morning it was announced on local news websites that the Governor had called a press conference for that afternoon, same time, same place. This meant that there was some important breaking news.
The news turned out to be that the Food and Drug Administration had given approval for Battelle's mask sanitizing machines to clean 10,000 masks at a time. This number, though, infuriated our Governor who angrily insisted that the FDA relent under the circumstances and give an emergency waiver of its testing regulations to allow the machine to clean 80,000 masks, as, according to the Battelle scientists, it was built to do.
Late Sunday night the FDA relented and approval was given for the masks to clean 80,000 masks at a time.
At yesterday's press conference the Governor said that the mask sanitizing machine is ready to be up and running today in Columbus and other machines will soon be on their way to other cities around the country.
The Battelle mask sanitizing machine.
The movie version of the above events began rolling in my mind while watching Sunday's press conference.
...angrily pleading with the recalcitrant FDA officials and convincing them to give emergency approval for the machine that would save the lives of doctors and nurses on the front lines of the corona virus epidemic.
...played by Uma Thurman.
...and Donald Trump, as he continues to play the comedian throughout this national crisis, would naturally be played by his alter ego, Alex Baldwin.
In my movie, new technology would then evolve at lightening speed that would produce machines to sterilize all existing personal protective gear for health care workers even as production of new, better protective gear reached record speed and the gear began flying off the assembly lines to doctors and nurses. In addition, tests not only for the coronavirus but for blood serum antibodies - to determine who had immunity - were perfected and distributed nationwide in such great quantities that every American could be tested as often as necessary. And a miraculous cure for the virus was discovered, followed by an 100% effective vaccine.
The final scenes would be of people around the world returning to their normal lives.
It's only a movie in my mind. But these days, don't we have time to dream?
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.