March 8 vs. May 8
On Sunday, March 8, 2020, favorite friends and I had a wonderful Sunday dinner at the home of Sandy Klas – on the first year anniversary of the death of her wonderful husband, Bob. The news media that day had just announced a second known case of the Coronavirus outbreak. We were relieved that not even the remote linking of any potential deaths was reported. But—
Today on MnPost, May 8, 2020:
• 10,088 confirmed cases
• 534 deaths
How our world had changed in just two months!
Thanks to my dear friend, Phyllis, concerned I was no longer writing blogs, thought this remarkable March 8 vs. May 8 event might make me an interesting blog. But my dear, it is YOUR BLOG, not mine!
Phyllis Rawls Goff
Guest Blogger for the Day!
“Good luck to all of us and this little experiment with Democracy. I hope we can hang on to it. It’s been pretty cool.” — Christine Rousu
I’ve never been too good at remembering dates. But I do have distinct memories of Feb. 1, 2019.
Why? Because I woke up to water gushing from my basement ceiling, leaving the floor with ankle-deep water. Instantly my greatest concern became restoring my basement from the destruction of a Polar Vortex, that had left nothing remaining in my recreation room, bath, and laundry rooms but piles of wet junk and barely recognizable furniture. Nine months later all was restored!
Yet somehow it seems like quaint history compared to the Coronavirus that now spreads over much of our continent, including America. Hitting the state of Washington in January, then NYC, California, and adjacent states, our fearless leader was much too busy golfing and claiming himself innocent of the ‘witch hunt’ charged against him by members of the House. And this pandemic talk sounded a lot like just another ‘flu’ to him.
Eventually it has become evident that much of the world has been affected by the virus that has jumped from animal to human, leaving more than 843,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 46,000 dead. Businesses have come to a halt, schools closed, everyday citizens wearing face masks, keeping 6-foot distances from one another and people like myself isolated in place for the ‘duration’. Why me? Age. Most deaths from the viruses are occurring to the elderly, thousands to those living in assisted living.
Fortunately I’ve come to truly enjoy and appreciate living alone in my huge Queen Anne home, surrounded by pleasant families. My Personal Trainer, Greg, wearing a mask covering his face from above the nose to under his chin, spraying hand sanitizer over everything he touches with his gloved hands, spends 2 hours here weekly. His work- out activities keep us apart from one another and has made creative use of the front and back stairs in my huge house to push varied work-out balls throughout its interior. Using disinfecting wipes, he covers all the work-out equipment he has used as he departs.
Renee; my most able secretary who keeps me ‘on task’, is here 4 hours a week. Together we tackle the downsizing of too much stuff over the 50 years I’ve lived here. She also wears her face mask and gloves, maintaining a 6 foot distance while teaching me how to use the IP Tablet my daughter gave me years ago. I still can’t figure out how to make it work She also gets rid of stuff in closets, the furnace room, in the shed — that need new places to be. Her ability to reorganize a closet or kitchen and pantry shelves is amazing. She makes appointments to interview folks for performing varied household activities or yard work and runs errands to Trader Joe’s or Walgreens since I have been restricted by my doctor to remain at home during the coronavirus.
Daughter Linda watches me like a hawk, after recovering from an appendicitis attack that kept her hospitalized several days, then sedated another three days when home. Now off drugs, she fixed a ham dinner for herself and husband Nick. He then delivered my dinner basket which he carefully set inside my front door. I noticed he observed the 6 feet required before dashing away.
When finally reaching her doctor, hoping a surgery date was available, he replied, “no elective surgery or retail to go. So sorry!”
We keep in constant contact by phone and an occasional visit accompanied by Molly, the beloved family dog who just loves her grandma. Please follow our adventures as we cope with today’s ‘stay-at-home world’.
Another Republican state turns Democrat on its Nov. 5th election date! How well I remember the plucky women who saw their rights being stripped, one by one, too often by the men who controlled both houses of their state legislature. It was as though each of these women began wondering, ‘who is looking out for my interests, my rights?’. The questions they seemed to be asking were: how can I be expected to control my own life if stripped of birth control as my right to determine? No such demands were made on men’s reproduction organs. Why should only men have control of their bodies, have privileged access to affordable education, get more pay than women for the same position?
Why, indeed, they seemed to be wondering, do we continue voting for those who would limit our dreams? our ambitions?
As I recall, some of these women, who had never run for public office of any kind, began to gather together and wonder, “what keeps us from running for an office?” It was as though a small number of them began to challenge one another to just run for ANY office — even dog catcher — to get started. Serve on some community board. Help another woman enter an election. It was like the beginning of a Me Too movement for these women saying, “Know my place? I don’t think so!”
From time to time I’d read an article about this group supporting one another — even a husband or two taking care of the kids so their wives could learn the skills of campaigning. And then I forgot about them until….
I read the election results of last Tuesday’s election! The ‘Blue Wave’ hit the state of Virginia! I immediately thought of those “Me Too” women and wondered how much their efforts contributed to the amazing state victory. Perhaps Rachel will have another story to share with us about those plucky Virginia women.
Will we hear more stories about women who want nothing more than ‘to control their own bodies? Have a dream or two of their own? Only yesterday, TV news showed a woman in Virginia giving a Trump motorcade her middle finger as she passed them on her bike!
It seems our fearless and fearful leader cares little about being a President who wants to make our country a better place for all of its citizens. Other than wanting to build a wall, keep out all immigrants, and make the rich richer, he has no interest in the needs and concerns of each generation. The middle class has shrunk leaving many with inadequate health care or retirement savings and the millennials wonder if they’ll ever get their college bills paid. No concern has he for our youth who fear they may not live long enough to be an adult due to the ravages of climate change or the fear of get- ting shot at school. His ever-changing staff cannot keep up with his changing moods and ideas. In fact, he now he has varied staff visiting far flung countries searching for ways to discredit our U.S. intelligence agencies’ claim that Russia hacked his election.
Perhaps Psychiatric Physicians at the Mayo Clinic who have developed signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder can offer help. People with the disorder can:
. Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
. Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
. Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
. Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
. Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on others as inferior
. Take advantage of others to get what they want
. Are unable or unwilling to recognize others needs or feelings
. Be envious of others and believe others envy them
. Become angry when they don’t get or receive special treatment
. Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior
. React with rage or contempt, try to belittle the other person in order to feel superior.
Perhaps a resident psychiatrist should be added to his staff.
Why indeed does no one tell The Emperor he wears no clothes? Those who readily agree with anything he says, orders or demands may reply, “You never get punished for doing nothing!”
So it is with our leader who hears no complaints from his shrinking group of devoted followers who say nothing when he encourages Israel’s leader to prohibit two of our Congressional women, both Muslims, from entering his country. Seemingly having no moral compass, he and his followers let hate speak for them. Not seeing the power he has given these women, he sees such actions as a diversion – in this case, possibly against that former day’s disastrous stock market drop.
We risk getting used to being ordered by such a leader and his handful of wealthy and powerful friends who run us and our country by tweets and his version of fake news. The use of frequent repetition by our powerful person who sees himself as ‘the best leader in the world — in fact whoever was — who knows only the “winners,” may occasionally say of a friend who suddenly finds himself challenged by the law and possible imprisonment, “I really didn’t know him very well — only a short time, really.”
But the Earth’s burning in Brazil is a threat to us all and should give our leader pause on his recent roll back on Methane, a major cause of ‘climate change’. Let the Amazon rain forest be damned, he must think, as he lets it be shut down!
Not enough for our leader to ignore the needs of poor, blacks, kids, immigrants and now educators and scientists, — he seems even more determined to destroy farms, forests, parks, our oceans, Brazil forests, the atmosphere, research, education and a thriving future for younger generations. And although he remains only interested in creating unlimited wealth for his favored wealthy few and his kids, yet no one speaks up!
Anthony Bourdain is a person I have greatly admired, particularly as he found himself exploring the roughest terrain in America – of life lived by true Texan cowboy families.
“In the roughest terrain, you have a weak heart, you won’t last,” Anthony said, on a replay of one of his early broadcasts on CNN. “Surrounded by high mountains, populated by crowded high trees, with curling gravel roads at ground level require you to go 40 miles to get a loaf of bread or a pack of cigarettes. Folks here travel mostly by horses. There was nothin’ but nothin’ between small towns,” he said. Yet the family he was with, “engaged in hard laughter and LOVED IT! They wouldn’t live anywhere else. One family owned a saloon — a good one. Loyalty was big in this Texas where you have to depend on one another. Ranchers needed lots of guns cause you were considered an invader of Mexico in the old days. Mexicans say all their fathers, grandfathers were all here. In fact you can see the evidence of their carvings on the rocks. They were in tune with their times.”
“Diverse folks live in Texas — cross over wherever the borders are from Mexico. Many live across the street from one another.” Looking at us, Anthony says, “One side is USA, the other is Mexico. This appears to be comfortable for most. It was the most amazingly magnificent and rugged terrain I’ve yet seen. Going outside at night to watch the stars — at where they live — deeply appreciated by those who live in this amazing state.”
But this was before the El Paso crisis — surprising all its approximately three thousand persons at the Walmart and its adjacent mall on a sales tax holiday that suddenly erupted with multiple gun shots, killing 20, leaving 46 wounded. An open-carry state, many carried their weapons legally. It had been a beautiful American city prior to this day on August 3, 2019.
A racist, anti-immigrant manifesto was found near the Walmart Shop, believed written and posted by the shooter, a 21-year old man who surrendered to police. He drove more than 9 hours to reach El Paso, suggesting the hatred that drove him. Another 19-year-old man who promoted white supremacy, fatally shot three people, injuring 12 others, at Gilroy Garlic Festival a week earlier. He had urged Instagram followers to read “Might Is Right”, a novel admired by white supremacists. He had legally purchased his gun in Nevada three weeks earlier, making this the 240th shooting of the year!
Local leaders insisted we must call it what it is: a hate problem of non-whites. The manifesto listed earlier encouraged white folks to take over the country — particularly western European whites.
A day later, the single largest ICE Raid in history left nearly 700 undocumented people detained after officials raided seven food processing plants in Mississippi. Hundreds of families were separated from their children. Three hundred detained were later released but the schools and other city officials had no prior warning of the raid, leaving many feeling highly emotional. Leaders were saying “We’re losing our way! This is not who we are! The timing of these raids is questionable!” Our president, who has difficulty rising to such occasions, was being urged to stop using words like: predator, killers, animals, invasions; words he uses to rile his base but turns off other citizens as well as immigrants.
It is hard to keep up with the increasing threats to what used to be a reasonably predictable country. As for me, It is the beauty and awesomeness of Bourdain’s Texas I choose to remember.
How I yearn for the days when people could politely disagree without engaging in name calling; when politicians could disagree with opponents without calling them childish names, accusing them of possessing dubious intelligence, maybe not even born in America.
And so hearing good old Joe Biden declare, “Let’s Make America America Again!”, I was surprised to find me almost yelling to myself, “Well, why indeed not?” I had initially felt Joe was ill advised to run. Too old, too ill-equipped with remembrances of past ‘goofs’ and too lacking the excitement of a Kamala Harris or Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren or Beto O’Rourke.
But as Frank Bruni commented in his NYT article, that is the essence of Joe’s strategy — “Elect me would mean the past four years were a bad dream.” Then I watched Joe handle a disruptive man attending a recent speech by gently welcoming him, suggesting they have a private conversation after his talk. How welcoming was that! No “Kick that man out!” Probably any of our candidates would be equally polite but seeing Joe in action filled me with a remembrance of times past I had feared might be gone. As Bruni concluded, any yesterday is better than Trump’s tomorrow. This was strangely reassuring to me, giving me confidence that any of our many candidates will help restore sanity to the electoral process.
Yet some of his challengers doubted that working successfully with the opposition was a good thing. To them it showed his willingness to work with Senate segregationists, a ‘no – no’. Joe mentioned that Teddy Kennedy had to learn how to work with segregationists to get any bills passed. As several reporters had predicted, other candidates soon began pointing out why each of them would be a better choice to defeat Trump.
The first debate of ten candidates will be held on June 26 and the second one on June 27. They promise to be lively. Will Joe still remain in the lead? I won’t miss them. How about you?
Following my retirement of traveling the world, I found myself these last seven years living alone in my very large Queen Anne Home. My partner of 30 years had died. Encouraged by friends, I wrote a couple of memoirs about our travels and my life. During these years, a number of my relatives and dearest girl friends have died or moved into retirement homes. My daughter has found her life busier than she had ever imagined with me trying to figure out how to cope with a world of iPhones and other gadgets, and her husband unhappy with his work, — her trying to be there for both of us and their pets.
What was I to do with myself? I had to start learning stuff I had never wanted to learn — mostly about details – like run a huge home, keep the lawn looking presentable and seek young millennials to enjoy.
Then a gal named Reneé came into my life, possessing those many skills I most lacked. I had already decided that to keep me organized, what I most needed was a secretary! I’d always had one before retirement. I also needed help organizing all the ‘stuff’ in my huge home. In fact, I often felt obsolete — lacking the skills so necessary for today’s fast moving world of varied devices requiring continued new learning of newer yet apps with its regular expensive upgrades. I was not alone. Most my generation were seeking varied coping mechanisms or had even giving up having a computer or a TV that also showed movies.
Reneé was living a quiet life with a need for more interesting girlfriends, her new husband who kinda preferred her staying at home and her 27 year old son. Though she had lived with her first husband in Europe while he served in the army, her main work experience had been with hotels, keeping rooms organized and clean. The clincher for me was observing how she used her iPhone to keep her life organized. I no sooner told her how I needed someone to organize my home, room by room — starting with the pantry — getting rid of duplicates like crockpots — then she was ‘on it!’ Before I knew it, counters were free of clutter, space opened up like magic in the cupboards, dishes were organized on the shelves and duplicates disappeared into the basement where we decided stuff no longer usable would be kept. Junk there would be eventually boxed and sealed to be taken to Good Will, serviceable items boxed and taken to thrift shops. When I expressed a desire for one of those self-cleaning frying pans, she got me one. A small tree in my front yard was dying. She immediately located a person to cut it down and reseed the lawn. Gardening was a great love of hers that got her into my shed containing all yard stuff that she then organized. When we had an invasion of thousands of ants swarming over the kitchen floor following the ice storm that had frozen, then burst water pipes in the basement, she quickly obtained information on her iPhone for a pest-control site getting someone here the next day. Several days later, ants were gone. And so it goes.
We are now examining the first signs of Spring as we check the soggy flower gardens for early blooms and the lawns for bare spots in need of new seeding. Tentatively we open the shed to check the condition of equipment and jars of ‘God knows what’ in varied containers. Enthusiasm bursts forth as we plan our first visit to gardening shops, wondering if it is too soon to get hanging pots to cheer up our soggy yards or colorful perennials to border garden edges.
Following our first day of planting new flowers while thrilled with all the new bleeding heart bushes in full bloom, I get an anxious call from Reneé. “Shirley, I just heard tonight’s forecast of early frost. You must take in the baskets and cover up the new plants with whatever you can find!” Thankful for her call, I stumble out into the windy, chilly darkness of night, hoping to be ‘the big protector of all new life.
Though we’ve lived in very different worlds, and we’re years apart in age, we’ve become ‘girlfriends’ who begin each time together with coffee, chit-chat and cookies, discussing things we might explore when summer finally comes, in this beautiful state of many parks and beautiful lakes. Maybe even take an overnight trip to Minnesota’s fabulous ‘North Shore’ with its quaint villages, fabulous historic sites and festive annual contests on its shores and harbors. Who knows what new adventures might await us! We just know, “We are ready!” Reneé is my special secret for my more optimistic ‘take on life’.
I suspect I may have a jealous friend or two.
On Feb. 1, the Polar Vortex turned my basement into a minor Niagara Falls, leaving behind a flooded guest bedroom and bath, laundry and furnace rooms that remain gutted with water damaged walls, floors and ceilings but as yet no restoration. The Vortex created extensive damage in many upper midwestern states’ buildings, causing insurance and basement restoration firms to be deluged for help. We think we may finally have found a restoration company we can afford now, four months later. Thus, the return of the occasional blogger.
Yet, I feel surrounded by bleakness. Our Minnesota Spring has been most reluctant to free us from too much gorgeous snow, dangerous ice, and cold windy days. Even though ice houses of avid fishermen have been closed for the season, and deer hunters back home, TVs bring no relief with its bombardment of hopeless political news. A cartoon in my local paper pictured a very cold looking man looking at a shivering man holding his hands over his ears. The first man asks, “Frostbite?” The second highly distressed looking man replies, “No, Sound Bites from Washington Politicians!”
Yet yards are too wet and so ‘not ready’ for eager gardeners. In my social world of mostly women whom I cherish, too many leave us each year to death or retirement facilities, reminding us remaining of how tenuous is life. And how hard we must work to be less burdensome to our children. My daughter is one of many who must watch over her aging mother and be concerned about the grandchildren. Articles begin appearing with great regularity about the burden of baby boomers who find themselves wedged between old folks and millennials.
And yet the millennials certainly have their issues. They will be forever paying off their college education debts while seeking employment that satisfies and helps pay off college and medical expenses. It certainly feels like my generation truly lucked out. Born during WWII, we learned frugality and volunteerism, lucky enough to be among the recipients of the G.I. Bill that made college affordable. I chose to pursue a doctorate, graduating with no student debt and having my choice of varied desirable professions, giving me a career I truly enjoyed with great benefits as well. Not only were the baby boomers faced with too many pursuing too few desirable jobs but too often the down-sizing of available work included cut benefits and pitiable raises. My millennial friends seem more accepting of their frugal life styles, perhaps finding fun way of adapting. Perhaps I’ll explore their worlds next.
So I guess I am ready to continue my writing of blogs, a pursuit I enjoy.
The ‘natural entertainer’ need only rely on ‘his gut’. No formal study is required. Thus he harms no one — other than perhaps those who believe his humor is based on fact. Notice how he struts onto the stage, with a huge smile going from ear to ear on his orange shaded round-shaped face. His eyes twinkle with joy as he listens to the adulation of the crowd.
“See how I act,” he may say, having no need to speak truth. “See how I can act like a President — no big deal,” as he moves woodenly from side to side, holding his arms and hands stiffly at his side. The audience roars, giving him the mass adulation he needs as he says with a lop-sided grin, “How am I doing? Do you want more? Like this”?
He can tell lies fearlessly to this crowd who require being entertained. Thus, if challenged by a reporter in the crowd on some simple fact like the number of people at a previous event, the entertainer need only point to the person yelling in a commanding voice, “Get that lyin’ person outa here with his ‘fake news’ – as the crowd yell, “Get him out!”
Since he seldom holds convictions for many announcements he makes — except maybe – ‘build the wall’ – he can quickly shift convictions – either denying he ever said it or blaming the idea on a former president. “Works every time,’ he says or so it seems.
It also seems miraculous how this man plays the shifting blame game so openly and yet so flawlessly. When will those elected to serve us and our Constitution begin demanding leaders follow truth and law — not letting those who yell ‘fake news’ or ‘witch hunt’ get by with such childish behavior.
Leave entertainment for actors on Saturday Night Live!