This got me thinking about how mothers respond to crisis. In most species, they quickly gather their brood under their wings, or in the center of the herd, or back into the den, and they wait out the threat, choosing fight over flight only when it is absolutely necessary.
There are no milestones to mark the days.
No deadlines to meet. No appointments to keep.
Fridays = Shields and Brooks on the Newshour, as always. Fifteen minutes of news commentary that lulls me into believing that the United States is still a tolerant place.
Costco opens it’s doors now from 8-9 am for senior shoppers. Half of me wants to jump up and down about it, the other half hopes they turn me away for being way too young…(I’m not and they didn’t.)
Videos from Yosemite and Yellowstone record that in the absence of humans, Bison, Bear, Wolves and Coyote now roam freely through the streets of our National Parks. Oh to be a fly on the canyon walls right now.
Here in the hood, the grass is Gatorade green. The orchard will likely be in full bloom tomorrow. There is a beautifully constructed but oddly empty new bird’s nest in the rhododendron.
On our daily walks we can’t help but comment on the clarity of the sky and the quality of the light behind the silhouettes of tall trees. Everything seems to have suddenly switched to high-def.
But the exhilaration that normally accompanies Spring is subdued. Everything feels tamped down by bad news, even as the northern hemisphere slowly tilts toward the sun and the natural world enjoys some much needed down time.
We decided not to shop in our local community stores, where we do small scale grocery and hardware runs on a regular basis. There are no social distancing measures being practiced in the downtown businesses. Employees don’t wear masks. Checkout lines are not delineated at safe intervals. Even the lone local police man wanders around in public without a mask.
This is a pretty conservative area and I can sense that some of the natives are getting restless.
My state was one of the first to get hit with the virus and one of the first to institute safety guidelines and then business and school closures in an attempt to contain public spread of the disease.
As a result, our death toll was never what models said it would be before the Governor made those difficult decisions. Because it is working.
But a minority of residents are making a lot of noise about these restrictions. They gather at public rallies designed to flaunt their fearlessness in the face of a dangerous pandemic. In so doing, they are endangering themselves, their families, and their communities.
Some comment on social media that they would rather die than have their liberties taken from them. This is pure ignorance. They have no clue how this virus kills people.
It’s called oxygen starvation.
I’m certain that none of these “patriots” has ever sat at the bedside of a loved one dying from oxygen starvation.
I have. It’s no way to die.
It’s traumatic and terrifying and unholy. Bearing witness to it is a PTSD inducing experience. The sights and the sounds of it will wake you up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night for years.
It’s probably the single most difficult thing about this pandemic for me:
Knowing that people are dying like this, and most often, dying alone.
No loved one can stroke their forehead. No loved one can hold their hand.
And knowing that our doctors and nurses are bearing witness to these lonely, difficult deaths, sometimes after caring for patients for weeks. It’s devastating.
The toll that this pandemic is taking on our healthcare workers cannot be quantified.
We all owe them a huge debt. They are soldiers on the front lines of a horrible battle.
The toll that this pandemic will take on our economy will likely be huge.
I understand that this is all challenging peoples patience, their bank accounts and finances, their careers. Everyone is having bad hair days. Everyone wants a beer and a burger.
But people are dying.
And people are fighting valiantly to save lives–working grueling schedules then sleeping in motels or sending their children to relatives to protect them from what they know is a horrible disease.
Some of them will die themselves. Some will infect their families.
Some will spend the rest of their lives wondering if they did the right thing…If they did enough.
What I’m saying is this:
People are making huge sacrifices for this country right now.
This is not the time to agitate.
This is the time to cooperate.
Take this advice with a grain of salt:
If this is not the worst day of your life, then please, shut up and go home.
Then you will have earned the right to call yourself a patriot.
©2020 by Ilona Elliott
Playgrounds full of red cheeked children.
The freedom to hug and be hugged.
The anticipation of summer concert people dancing on the grass.
A normal day at the grocery store.
A face that doesn’t itch like poison ivy every time I’m in public.
Ditto for the urge to sneeze.
The assumption that my sore throat and headache are nothing serious.
The skin on the backs of my hands.
Gatherings of friends.
The camaraderie and creative buzz of art workshops.
The certainty that we all value the lives of our neighbors more than we value their ability to contribute to our economy.
Leaders who lead with patience, humility and respect for our institutions.
Barack and Michelle Obama.
The idea that America’s legacy transcends our economics and the empire building of oligarchs.
And, ugh, I never thought I would miss this…
Silly, pointless news stories.
Yeah, even that.
Remain safe, be well, stay healthy.
And tell me what you miss.
©2020 by Ilona Elliott
The people in Italy are serenading one another from open windows and balconies. I hope the dying can hear them.
Dio Benedica L’Italia.
A Life after Sixty Series Post
From September to June, on most Tuesdays, I attend Jewelry workshops at the nearby college.
It’s mostly a bunch of old broads and a couple of token guys, almost all of us senior citizens.
The college gives the over 50 “Lifelong Learners” in the community a nice discount on continuing ed classes. I guess they think we need special incentives to get off our tired old butts and do stuff.
It works for me. It primes my creative juices and gets me out of the house and around people.
Because of our age group, at any given time, small talk between students might revolve around such exciting topics as:
Urinary tract infections
Gall Bladder surgery
What to do about chafing thighs–Is baby powder even safe?
I never thought I would get here.
I’m at that age. You know. The one you made fun of when your parents were that age.
The age where you talk about your aches and pains and medical issues with your peers.
UGH! How incredibly boring I hear the young-uns groan.
But wait, I disagree. It’s actually quite fascinating. Think of all the topics represented by the above mentioned maladies:
* Fluid dynamics
* Advanced laparoscopic surgical techniques
*The effects of gravitational forces on the human body
*Advanced medical therapies
*Tort law jurisprudence. (Is a baby powder claim in your future?)
Boring!? HUH! At least we’re not sitting around discussing how to reduce the echo effect in our bathrooms while phone filming our newest hair styling video for YouTube.
But to be honest, I have to admit that sometimes getting old does kind of wallow around in lameness.
Imagine actually stopping the remote on Larry Kings Prostate Report, even for a moment.
Or getting into bed every night wondering: Should I really try to go to sleep? I’ll be up again in fifteen minutes having to pee! Maybe I should just lie here repeatedly torturing myself over embarrassing high school moments again until it’s time to pee.
And you may think I’m being hyperbolic when I say this, but it’s true:
Aging. Changes. Everything.
From the brightness of your teeth to the un-moleyness of your skin to the luster and texture of your toe nails.
It’s unrelentingly lame. And kinda gross.
But as lame as aging is, its even lamer to give in to it and give up.
Because believe me, it would be easy to do some days, when everything from your teeth to your toes aches at some point in that twenty four hour span.
The temptation to just sit down and stay there is real.
Until you see an old man bent over double with arthritis being dragged around the park by a strapping young black lab.
Or a frail looking old lady clutching onto her walker for dear life as she negotiates her way down the sidewalk to the grocery store.
Or an elderly couple hiking in the hills with their walking sticks, their flexible knee braces and their day packs stuffed with CLIF bars and Advil.
These folks are my new heroes. They remind me that I am still relatively young and able bodied, and that my body still functions better than some peoples’ ever did.
They inspire me and remind me that the lamest thing about aging isn’t funky toe nails, or teeth that don’t sparkle, or moles and skin tags, it’s how our society views the elderly.
Instead of wise…strong in the face of adversity…resilient.
But we know. We know we have all taken a beating or two or three, and we still keep going. We know what we’ve learned along the way.
We really don’t need the world’s recognition.
But we wouldn’t mind a little of it’s respect.
And so, like Ma Joad , at the end of the movie The Grapes of Wrath, we know what we’re made of. The world may not see it, but we see it and we recognize it and respect it in one another.
It’s a beautiful thing.
Moles and all.
©2020 by Ilona Elliott
Rain hangs about the place, like a friendly ghost. If it’s not coming down in delicate droplets, then it’s in buckets; and if neither, then it tends to lurk suspiciously about in the atmosphere.Barbara Acton-Bond
It’s the twenty third of January, and I swear we haven’t had a day without rain since the New Year.
Worms are literally drowning in the streets. I’m not shitting you.
Here in the Pacific Northwest we have many ways to describe rain, and our Meteorologists seem to go out of their way to use various descriptive terms for the same damn process.
As someone who appreciates a good turn of a phrase, I can’t help but notice, while reading any long range forecast for this time of year, how prolific the descriptive terms for drops of water falling from the sky can be.
Tell me dear weather person, what is the difference between showery, clouds with showers, intermittent showers and occasional rain? Are rain squalls the same as periods of rain? Are rain showers the same as sun showers just without the sun? How long did you devote yourself to the study of the language of rain?
How does one differentiate between the terms showers likely, a possibility of showers, and a chance of showers? Are there subtle differences in the meanings of these terms or are you just trying to avoid being repetitive? Do you guys have some kind of code book you use to decide which phrase is most indicative of what will actually take place on the ground or are you just padding your paychecks with overtime hours coming up with this stuff?… Instead of just typing RAIN.
If I had to choose my favorite PNW term for rainy weather, it would be “atmospheric river”. Basically, this is a big ass rain storm swirling around off the west coast lapping up water, that, when it hits land, will feel like a big ass river being poured over your head should you find it necessary to step outside at any time during this “rain event”, which is another great term.
If you ask me, this all sounds rather theatrical, maybe even biblical, don’t you think? Considering we are still only talking about RAIN.
And speaking of rain, the long range forecast I just checked showed RAIN every day out until next Tuesday, at which time, there is an icon with a little round yellow orb bookended by gray clouds.
I think that means there may be a chance of sunshine on Tuesday! Or perhaps I should say cloudy with some sun? But it might also be best described as cloudy with periods of sunshine, or perhaps it will be a partly sunny day. Then again it might end up being partly cloudy, or with sun giving way to clouds or clouds giving way to sun. Sun with periods of clouds? Clouds with partial clearing?
We’ll take it.
There is a yellow disc in the forecast. I prefer to think of it as an atmospheric river of light. And after the month we’ve had here, it will definitely feel biblical.
In 1844, six men set out from Iceland in a small rowboat. They were headed for Eldey, a low-lying bare rock about 15 kilometers off the southwest coast. Rare great auks—large, black-and-white, flightless seabirds—nested there and the men had been commissioned by a specimen dealer to get hold of any birds they could find. Jumping…From Healthy to Extinct in 350 Years — Hakai Magazine
Sharing this sobering post from Hakai Magazine.
So the holidays are over…
Somehow we managed not to have any drywall dust flying around during Christmas dinner, just a little grit from the sanded grout we applied to the newly tiled kitchen wall. SOMEONE managed to get grout in the kitchen sponge so that the plates made little scratchy sounds on the island counter top as we ate, the one we had buffed out last Spring because it was scratched…the irony!
We did fit the tiling project in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we postponed the mud room project until after the New Year so it was nice to have a clean house and even some guests over during the holidays. But I can feel the next project breathing down my neck as I write. It’s promising to be a bear.
We have a lot of wet here, and five acres worth of mud. So we need this mudroom. But we’ve got to replace glued down wood flooring with tile, bust out drywall, reconfigure plumbing and possibly electrical, install new drywall, paint, cabinets, fixtures and backsplash tile, and build a dedicated space for wet jackets and shoes.
Piece of cake…NOT. But after forty years of projects, we’ve got real DIY chops. We can handle it.
Of course I say “we” a lot but truth be told the old man does most of the heavy lifting.
I’m the designer. Kind of like the wedding planner. I’m there to plan, to direct, and to place flowers in vases.
And to spend his money.
I am, of course, exaggerating. I’ve been known to install insulation, drywall and tile. I’ve painted more rooms than I can count and have the blown out right shoulder to show for it.
And I do a lot of clean up. I keep the sponges organized.
One DIY skill I excel at is making suggestions. The old man knows this and generally ignores me, which is something he excels at. This tends to make me pouty, like that wedding planner when you ignore her suggestion to purchase several hundred books of personalized matches for all your non-smoking, mostly vegan wedding guests.
But every now and then I make a suggestion that he actually agrees to. I can’t think of any examples right now because it happens so rarely, but when he does implement something I suggested, especially if he was scratching his head trying to figure out what to do, you know I have to strut around like a rooster and say things like “See, I DO have some good ideas now and then. I DO help you figure things out sometimes.”
Which he ignores. So much so that he forgets that the person who figured out how to make that transition in the siding where the contractor screwed up the foundation tie-in look intentional and not like a mistake, was me.
So I think I know how that wedding planner feels the day of the wedding, when everyone is complementing the bride on what a beautiful wedding she pulled off.
She just stands in the shadows, glittery wedding clipboard in hand, smiling demurely as she downs her fifth cocktail and third piece of cake.
But does she give up? Does she quit planning weddings and start driving for LYFT? Of course not. She keeps going. She keeps planning, directing, and making inane suggestions on ways to spend money her clients don’t have.
So I’m not gonna quit planning, puttering and making suggestions just because I’ve been largely ignored for the last forty years. Somehow, my projects have taken shape and come to life. Maybe it’s all the drawings I’ve made, all the heaps of fixtures, cans of paint, carloads of cabinets and piles of tiles I’ve picked out over the years, or the hundreds of suggestions I’ve dangled out in front of the old man to get him to buy into my vision.
Because we do have the lightest, brightest, loveliest little home now. It reflects who we are and the way that we live, and that, is reason enough to go on.
So, onward into the New Year, into the next plan, the next project, the next brain numbing conundrum that gets your critical thinking faculties moving in over drive. This DIY stuff is not for the faint of heart.
So here’s a toast to all the DIY’ers out there, who design and draw, demolish and re-build, who make things work and make it their own and make it fabulous!
The world is a better place because of you!
Copywright 2020 by Ilona Elliott
It’s all just too frightening to think about, especially with Halloween being over now and the merry and bright holidays coming…