*I’ve always been drawn to May Day. When we were little, public schools had a big May Day celebration where one grade would dance around the May Pole and other grades would do something May-appropriate, like dance around a sombrero (Cinco de Mayo). I loved the May Pole part, especially: the bright colors and the folk dance as the kids (my peers) wove around to create a colorful weave on the pole. I don’t know when that ceased to happen, but I know why: it was deemed a pagan holiday and religious in nature, and since we could no longer celebrate anything remotely religious in public school anymore, the practice went by the wayside.

Picking May flowers from one’s garden and carefully placing a blossom on the neighbor’s doorstep before playing doorbell ditch also fell into disrepute. Virgins donning white dresses became as scarce as sightings of fairies in the backyard.

I suspect the pagan celebration is in my genetic memory somewhere, buried in centuries of Celtic/Nordic/Pict/Viking/Welsh family lines. My Christian faith is also deeply rooted in genetic memories, going back as far as the written history goes back.

*We went grocery shopping today. It was a very stressful experience. I wear a face mask. My husband does not, but he takes all the other precautions. So many other people do not – and do not honor the six foot distancing rule. We had to fight employees for space as well as other customers in the narrow aisles of our local Kroger’s.

There are still empty shelves, yet we continue to have a gross amount of choice in products to purchase. Toilet paper, tissue, paper towels, and disinfectants are still limited, as as certain fresh meat products. The only thing we needed was tissue as we are in the midst of prime allergy season for me.

*Internet has been slow all day. I tried to post on my art website and discovered it is “down”. I need to ditch the host anyway. That means phone calls (which I despise making) to two entities. Adding insult to injury, I tried to post my recent illustrations on my Facebook page. My post failed to load.

*We finally decided to purchase new window coverings for the living/dining room windows. The quote came in far below what we were expecting because they gave us a COVIC-19 discount of 30%. The blinds will be installed just before the first of June and summer weather.

*My hot body has turned into a turnip. I’ve never had a hot body, but now I have a quarantine body. No waist at all.

*My paintings! Goodness, after all that, I still want to share what I painted. I tried to picture the pandemic from two points of view, making fun of each other, but I probably failed because of my own predilection.


Wally is a Guard on duty during a quarantine protest. I copied the signs from actual signs used during just such a demonstration. They aren’t the brightest slogans and certainly do not make the argument to open up. I get that there a economic reasons, but crying about one’s haircut is not one. Or one’s lost golf season. These are basically signs asking other people to come to work to take care of the protestors who are missing their privileges.

Wally must feel the same because he is giving the universal Spotted Skunk tear gas warning. One step closer, and Wally lets it go.


Henrietta is how I imagine the “Open Up” crowd views those of us who are resisting. Henrietta is a natural loner. She’s obsessively cleaning.Bleach, baking soda, and white vinegar. Anything disinfectant, even though she lives alone and never goes out. She has everything delivered. She wears nitrile gloves (darn those claws that keep poking out). She tracks the virus and has a list of survival rules on the wall, next to her “Polar Bear of the Month” calendar.

Best of all, Henrietta has scored a World War 1 gas mask that she wears at all times (just in case the delivery guy knocks).

I love how I can’t paint a straight line (can’t draw one, either).

We are crossing into the second of May. I’ll have more thoughts later.

Day 44 Musings


I sit in my lawn chair, staring ahead at the “island”. It’s an ovate shape in our yard, a slight mound, where the peonies that came with the house are planted, as well as the other flowers I have added over the years, and the dwarf Hawthorne resides. There is a concrete birdbath, a shepherd’s hook holding a wire grate with sunflower seeds and dried mealworms, two more shepherd’s hooks with windchimes. The Camellia tree (or is i a bush?) lies beyond, the pink blossoms going mushy brown and scattering on the ground, and last year’s leaves turning yellow and sickly, New leaves are pushing outward, but the Camellia looks raggedy. A small green stepladder is off to the right: a board has been screwed to the top and peanuts are placed there as daily offerings to the neighborhood corvids (scrub jay and American crows).

I want the colors to sink into my brain, to leave an imprint I will never forget. I can smell lilacs on the air and apple blossoms. The curry plant (not the same as the herb sold in stores, but the aroma is very much the same), the Spanish lavender, and the wild branched of the rosemary, waft their scents into the air. The oregano has not grown back yet, but the grey-green furry leaves are poking out of the ground. My yellow-and-red tulips have faded; the purple tulips dance gently in the breeze. Blue-and-white blossoms cover the lithodora and small bumblebees buzz excitedly over the blossoms. The peonies are all getting ready to bloom, their leafy plumage ranging from deep red to brilliant green – I am always amazed at the variety of color in the foliage of peonies.

I am not okay. I am stressed. Anxious. Sad.

Twice this week, I have seen a meme purporting that there is already a vaccine for coronavirus. It has been posted by people I know and love who are tired of being in “lockdown”. The attached photo is of a vaccine for canine coronavirus. A click of the mouse and I am looking on a search engine. The only sites that come up are veterinary health sites. The vaccine is real. Dogs get *a* coronavirus. It is an intestinal disease specific to the canines. It does not affect other animals or humans. It is *not* the same as novel (new) coronavirus, which is an upper respiratory disease, affects multiple species (so far, cats ,humans, dogs, and possibly bats) and is SARS-CoV-2 virus.

It’s right there, in plain sight: this is NOT a vaccine for the disease and virus we are fighting.

I have been journaling. That’s not new: I’ve journaled since I was thirteen, more or less. I have a box in the attic full of old journals (I think I burned everything prior to 1980). I can tell you about weather patterns throughout my forty year marriage because I recorded those events as they happened. I know all about mild winters, cold winters, harsh winters, mild summers, rainy summers, and dry summers. I wrote it down. I can go back and look up the patterns, the times we planted gardens, when our children took their first steps.

Now I am writing about a novel virus that is changing our world and I still see people in denial of it’s ability to ravage the human (and cat/dog) body. People who are certain this is a Republican/Democrat war for the office of the President of the United States, regardless of the facts that it has ravaged nearly the entire civilized world. It has killed more people in the USA in three months than died during the 2018-2019 influenza season. It has killed more people in the USA than died in the 30 years we were fighting in Viet Nam.

Those numbers are fluid, but probably within a couple thousand either way. And either way, my statements above are true.

Those numbers do not include the numbers of survivors who will have permanent kidney, liver, or lung damage.

Where I live, the effects of the virus are minimal. We’ve had a total of 7 deaths in a large county, with just over a couple hundred infected.No one knows the true number of infected persons because you can’t get tested unless you are on death’s door or an “essential” employee. And if you do get tested, it will be two weeks before you get the results.

COVID-19 often kills within 10 days.

I am not okay. I am stressed. Anxious. I internalize everything because I am an introvert and HSP. I can’t imagine how my extrovert friends are holding out (the ones who believe). The ones who don’t believe – well, how they are coping is all over social media. It’s not good.

A bright blue and grey bird flashes into my peripheral vision. The scrub jay, come to take a peanut and hide it. He is followed by a black shadow – one of our crows has noticed the feeding table. A large bumblebee buzzes over the top of the lithodora. The hues of green burn into the back of my mind.

I am not okay, but life goes on. Breathe in. Breathe out. Listen. Absorb. Smell. Sense. Straight spine, feet planted firmly on warm green grass that tickles.. I know there are messages on my phone from one or the other of my granddaughters. I am loved and I love.

Thursday, we will buy new Venetian blinds for our dining/living rooms. We’re continuing to plant metaphorical trees despite the uncertainty of tomorrow.

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. ~ Martin Luther

Today I bought a bicycle. Not for one of my kids or my grandkids, and not for my husband. I bought it for me. The last bicycle I personally owned was sold in 1977 to fund my trip across Americamy trip across America. That was my lightweight Schwinn ten speed that I saved up for and bought from a catalog hen I was sixteen. It had been my only mode of wheeled transportation for three years.

I don’t know why I never bought another bike for myself. My husband has gone through several, and the kids each, but it never seemed a priority for me to have one – and so I didn’t.

I was not even looking for a bicycle. It found me, in much the same way a cat finds its owner. No, it didn’t “follow me home”. It merely presented itself as needing a home and I was available – and my husband encouraged me to take the jump.

My very first bike, the one I learned to ride on was a Sears Hawthorne girls bike. It was a strange blue color that turned purple under the halos of street lights. 24″ wheels, single speed, and a basket for carrying things. I painstakingly taught myself how to ride when noone else was looking, wrecking and wrecking, and dusting myself off, wiping my tears, and trying again. when I mastered it, I showed everyone.

“Blue Ribbon” and I regret that she ended up in a city dump, because she was a classic. I had a wire basket, not a woven basket, but the photo attached looks like Blue Ribbon.


The bicycle I purchased today is a retro 2007 Elektra Cruiser, barely used, 26″ wheels (the height of my old ten speed). Single speed, disk brakes. The neighbor had it in his driveway with a for sale sign. Helmet, bike pump, and free flat tire repair for the lifetime of the bike (a $40 value) all thrown in for $100.00.

No, I did not need the bike. The neighbor did need to sell it: his wife was in an accident and in a walker now.

I took it on a quick flat land spin: smooth, smooth, smooth. So smooth that I was tempted to try one of the many inclines around the neighborhood but thought better of it. Baby steps. I’ll do that tomorrow.

The only caveat is the color. It is way to feminine for me, but I think it will grow on me.


I’m pretty jazzed about the adventures we will have.



“This looks like a nice house. I wonder if it is available?” DeeDee Blackcap wondered.


“Oh! It says it is for rent! I hope it’s not too expensive!”


“Excuse me, are you the landlord? I’d like to take a look at this house. Can you tell me how much the rent is?”


“Well, you don’t talk much, do you? The sign says it is available for rent. I’d really like to take a look.”


“Well, it has a few spiders and bugs, but we can eat those. I really need to know how much the rent is. I wonder if I can just grab a snack and go? That’s why they put out the bugs and spiders during an Open House, right? I’ll send Mr. Blackcap back to talk to that one-armed landlord.”


No, really, how is it going?

Are you stir crazy? Convinced the government is lying to us? Convinced the government has overstepped its boundaries? Hoarding guns yet?

How about allergies?

Are you planting your Victory garden?

Learning a new skill?

Is life the same old, same old, but with less going out?

Are your kids getting on your nerves? Your spouse?

Have you braved the line at Home Depot to get a project finished (or just to complete a job you’re getting paid for)?

Are you ready for this pandemic to be over already and can we just get back to normal?

Tired of playing games on Facebook that require you to list the things you might use as a password hint?

Are you creating a list of things to be thankful for instead of things to be angry about?

What are you thankful for?

I am thankful I can cook from scratch and bake from scratch (I can read a cookbook). I am thankful I have been dirt poor and know how to improvise and substitute. I am thankful for the internet and social media (although the latter is a questionable blessing). I am thankful I have books to read that I probably will never get to and an attic to clean out. I am thankful the weather has been nice. I am thankful for antihistamines. I am thankful for blogs I can follow and read. I am thankful that there are many news sources and you can fact check what is being reported or passed along on social media. I am thankful for Instagram which is more about artsy photographs and family memories.

I am thankful for an old and beat up washing machine (I have washed clothes in a wringer washer… and in the bathtub). I’ve washed dishes in the bathtub. I am thankful for nice weather and a clothesline. I am thankful that I lived in poverty and I learned how to cope and how to improvise.

I am thankful that I have been homeless.

I am thankful for cameras, art, paint, fabric, colors, and eyesight. I am thankful I have a little left over to give to someone else. I am thankful for online church and a decades old collection of Easter decorations i have to put away tomorrow.

I am thankful we are not under martial law where I live, with National Guardsmen having to enforce the new restrictions. I am thankful to have a governor (and this pains me to say this) who has put her constituents first and who has made painful decisions to collaborate with other nearby governors on how – and when – we will open back up for business. That really hurts me to say: I don’t like this governor and I would not vote for her, but she has unequivocally stepped up to the plate when other leaders have refused to. I am thankful she is our governor.

I am thankful for my children and their survivor’s sense of humor because they grew up poor and know how to survive. It’s a wicked sense of humor.

I am thankful for electricity, public water, garbage collection, recycling, natural gas, and the US Postal Service. I am thankful I am able to vote by mail in the upcoming primary and the upcoming general election.

I am thankful for creative friends who made cards for me so I could send them out randomly to cheer people who don’t have a thankful list.

Have a thankful list? Comment here or on FB.


The bird swooped silently in a circle between my bird feeder and the neighbor’s yard. At first glance, not more than a crow –
but a very large crow.

The light shone through it’s extended wing feathers, feathers unlike any other bird.

“oooh!” I must have exclaimed.

It was beauty. Elegance. Silence.

Ugly up close.

Turkey vulture, low to the ground and seeking dead meat. A squirrel had been run over a few days earlier – it must have scented that.

We stood, mesmerized by the beauty of flight. No other bird flies quite like a turkey vulture: half owl, half large bird of prey. Silent. Acrobatic.

The Ugly Duckling among large birds but perhaps the most graceful.

It landed in a Douglas fir. Then landed on the ground, its head a naked and ugly red of wrinkled flesh. Carrion bird.

No omen, this bird. Just a hunter in an urban landscape. Too many people and cars. It retreated.

Our neighbor came out, just as awed as we were. “What was that?” she called from across the street.

We don’t violate six-foot distances these days, but we call across the street.She thought it a hawk when it swooped by her picture window.

“Turkey vulture!” we called across the street.

We stood in awe, together.

Stock photo from Pixabay

Stock photo from Pixabay

Palm Sunday 2020

I did not go to church today. I have not attended church for several years. I do meet with God daily.

I met with Him today. I always meet with Him.

Today, I even dressed up.

I put on a sundress and put earrings in. The sun warmed my legs and arms and face.

I talked to my God.

“How is it, Lord,” I asked, “That we hear a different answer from you? One side will claim they hear from you and they are assured they do. I can’t judge if they do or not, but I certainly hear a different answer. And I know in my heart the Voice I hear is yours. We don’t agree, these two factions within Your church.”

And then I went about my day, distancing myself from other human beings while others I know went into a building with many other believers and prayed a congregate prayer. I accepted the inconvenience of the times and others argued that it is ‘the government’ to blame (whatever entity ‘the government’ is) for the inconvenience.

“How is it?”

I went out on Monday. It was eerier than the last time I was out and about, but I did manage to score a pack of toilet paper and another box of tissue. Tissue is an essential in our home this time of year when pollen counts start to rise. It’s been rainy and cool, so the allergies have lessened considerably but I still have the nagging post-nasal drip. It’s my normal.

I also found some of those tuna packets my son likes. I was mailing him a care package so I grabbed a few to add to it. He’s deployed right now and far from family. I sent him a care package and one to my son-in-law who works on the North Slope of Alaska and is grounded for the foreseeable future (Alaska has closed her borders and he lives in Phoenix so would not be able to return to work if he went home). Both of my “girls” are single moms right now and it’s hard. You mothers out there doing that thing know what I mean: single motherhood is HARD. You love those little critters but they consume you. You make jokes about hating your kids on Facebook and people come out with all sorts of criticism about how you’re raising children to have no self esteem because you can’t stand your kids. they don’t understand that a sense of humor (albeit dark) is essential to your survival.

I get it – a dark sense of humor formed my childhood, my teen years, and my adulthood. My family doesn’t send sentimental cards – we send borderline cruel and hysterically funny cards. The funnier the card, the more you are loved.

One thing I learned when I went out on Monday is that there is a lot of debate (and I mean A LOT) about the wearing of face masks. WHO recommends one thing and the CDC recommends another. You can’t win for losing. WHO recommends that no one wear face masks unless they are actually ill, a First Responder, or caring for someone with COVID-19. CDC recommends that EVERYONE wear a mask when they go out.

I wear nitrile gloves, but most people don’t. And a lot of those who do, discard them in their grocery carts for the grocery people to dispose of. That latter part is rude. Wrong. Filthy. Dispose of them yourself in the safest way possible. I take mine off in such a way that I don’t touch the finger parts. then I still sanitize all the surfaces I touched during my outing. I hate the waste, but it is our new reality.

Here in Oregon, single-use plastic bags were banned across the board and stores were mandated to charge shoppers for paper bags. It’s all about using your reusable shopping bags Then: novel coronavirus. You can’t use reusable bags anywhere. You either carry your groceries out unbagged and bag them in the privacy of your car or you buy ANOTHER reusable bag at the store or you pay five cents per paper bag.

Another change that has 48 other states shaking their heads over: we have to pump out own gasoline now. New Jersey remains the sole hold out against self pump now. Oregon finally conceded because of the virus (and I fully expect self serve to remain the law when we are out of this because the pundits have been pushing for that for decades). I saw a lot of gas station employees standing around while people pumped their own gas. Okay. Change. *I know how to pump my own gas. I hate to. I used to work as a gas station attendant. I’ll miss that luxury.

I have to go out again tomorrow. Our Credit Union was acquired by another Credit Union. Tomorrow is the day we have to activate our new debit/credit cards. I have a lot of automatic payments that will be going through tomorrow – and have the wrong information. I have to order new checks. I can’t do it today (or couldn’t as it is now after ten PM). I have to stuff this all in on April First on top of the stress we’re all living under. And guess what: I DON”T WANT to go out. I’d be happy staying in isolation another week. But I have to so I can pay bills.

I feel like I have gotten a bit whiny on this post. Let me tell you something positive. There was this oak tree in my neighbor’s yard. Not a native oak, but some kind of oak they sell in tree nurseries as “decorative” and “approved” by whatever city or county regulations. I love the native oaks: tall, thick, many branched. The leaves fall early in Autumn. This other variety doesn’t have those heavy limbs and grows in an inverse “V” instead of the arc that native oak grows in (look at the horizon to understand). This tree also does not shed its leaves all at once. It sheds them – slowly – all winter. The shedding isn’t finished until the new leaves come in sometime in late May. All those leaves end up in MY flower beds. They don’t harbor insects – they harbor slugs. And slugs devour my flowers.

Well, today – HALLELUJAH! – the landlord cut the damn tree down. It was only 20 feet tall. It has ceased its reign of terror on my flower beds. And I am very happy about that.

These are just notes jotted from isolation. I don’t mean for this to be a post that follows through logically. There’s no plot, no climax or denouement. It’s just life in the suburbs during the novel coronavirus pandemic of 2020, 102 years after the 1918 Influenza pandemic. I keep track of county numbers; there were 17 cases in my county on March 25 and no deaths. There are 50 cases and 3 deaths today just 7 days later. That’s more than double the IDENTIFIED cases. No one gets tested unless they are on their death bed here.

And in other news, a 6.5 earthquake hit north central Idaho today. That’s big. It was felt as far away as Battle Mountain, Nevada. I trust you can all use Google Maps: Challis, Idaho to Battle Mountain. That’s not a small distance.

As a friend of mine says on our private email group: “We live in Interesting Times”

Buckle up. It’s only just beginning. And keep your sense of humor. That’s one way you survive.


The past couple of days have been exhausting emotionally. I reduced my saved memorabilia by two thirds. That was easy. No one cares if I went to see John Mellencamp and saved the ticket stubs or that I saved *every* piece of literature from our Yellowstone vacation. I filled two boxes with stuff I recycled.

Then came the saved letters. THAT was emotional. I saved letters from my Great Aunts, my Gramma Melrose, my Aunt Phyllis, my sisters Deni and Cyndi, and a few from my parents. They are all gone now: Great Aunt Cindy, Great Aunt Doris, Gramma, Aunt Phyl, Cyndi, Deni, Mom, Dad. I decided to pass on the letters from Cyndi to her oldest daughter, who is still reeling from her mother’s passing last summer.

I read through the few I saved from my sister, beginning with the one she wrote from Idaho State Penitentiary. My parents had been silent on the issue of my sister, so I was completely blind-sided by her location. It made sense, even without knowing the story. My sister leaned a lot toward the outlaw side of life. She was a self-confessed “black sheep” in a family with a history of law enforcement. She was also witty, smart, funny, and genuine. She simply had very bad taste in men and an addictive personality.

Her letters are everything she was: struggling poor, a loving mother, an optimist, and a sucker for men who didn’t care about her or the babies they fathered. I’m passing those letters on to one of her children.

I started writing penpals in the late 1960s. There was a column in Western Horseman Magazine where you could connect and find other kids as horse crazy as yourself. Most of those penpals drifted off through the years, but I have stayed in touch with two of them for – what? 52 some odd years. And I saved almost all of those letters. Two years ago, one of those dear friends suddenly – and angrily – unfriended me. It was heart-wrenching, confusing, and completely out of the blue. I didn’t “like” a comment she made on Facebook and – just like that – our friendship was over.

I didn’t save any of her letters. I can’t bear to read them, to taste the sense of deep fellowship that I thought we had, knowing how abruptly she chose to end it all.

Today was better. I moved to photographs, starting with all the loose ones. I trashed duplicates, photos of kids I don’t remember, and recycled all the metal frames I used to display enlarged photos. I checked photo albums against the loose photos, filling in the gaps as I could. I’m missing photos. I tossed photo albums that were falling apart.


Ignore the unicorn. These are the photos I tackled today.

I scanned photos of my childhood, especially any of my sister, tagging my niece and nephew as I did so. They have nothing of hers, the precious few photos I have of her are gems for them.

Finally, I tried to make sense of a timeline for the loose photos. My mother dated hers – that was easy. My dad’s weren’t dated but I can make an educated guess. The photos of my kids, however… WHY didn’t I date them?! I can guess based on their faces, but… I guess it will just be “close enough”. Fortunately, from 2004 through 2005, I previously sorted and dated the photos.

After 2005, I went digital.

Now all I need to do is to insert the photos into the three albums I purchased (probably in 2006 or 2007). Hopefully, I have less than 900 photos to deal with. If I have more… UGH. I just want this project over with.


I tackled the attic today. That’s a thoroughly frightening activity. We don’t have black widows here, but we do have the occasional brown recluse. I didn’t see a single spider, but cam across hints of spiders (cobwebs, egg sacs, and just general “I think it’s gonna drop down on me” feelings. Yes, my friends who think I am spider-invincible, I have moments of vulnerability. Those moments come when I suspect I may be in the eyesights of poisonous spiders. (Eyesights=they DO have eight eyes).

I attacked the right hand side of the attic first. I don’t know what is in that box labeled “Arwen’s Stuff” but I do know for certain that if it is ever moved again, her husband is going to be the one doing it. I think it had books. A lot of books. Arwen, you are grounded until you come home and take your things with you.

You, too, Levi. At least your boxes aren’t heavy.

My husband is grounded, too. I lost count of how many boxes I moved around that were labeled “Don’s Stuff”.

Unfortunately, I did not find what I was looking for on the right hand side of the attic and I had to move to the left hand side. Note that the attic is about 10×6′ and more of a crawl space over the addition than a real attic. I had to do this on my hands and knees. Insulation dangles overhead, the pink fiberglass stuff that used to have a paper cover and now just hangs free..

I moved everything to the right and discovered… <ahem> a number of boxes labeled “Jaci’s memorabilia and saved letters” possibly matching the number of boxes labeled “Don’s Stuff”.

I hauled them out, vowing to go through them and cull the less important stuff (I refuse to throw out the newspapers of November 23, 1963.). I was 7 years old, in the Third Grade, and I remember the day vividly. But i could probably trash a lot of other stuff.

I did find what I was looking for: our stash of slides. Film slides, for those of you too young to remember. A friend loaned me her digital converter and I wanted to make certain I converted every single slide to digital* (*assuming the photos are worth saving or have meaning to our heirs). I didn’t expect to find all the other photography stuff: negatives, lost photos, my first SLR (a Kodak), and boxes of my memorabilia.

Damn. Now I really have my work cut out for me. Fortunately, I have four empty photo albums to fill. And plenty of time. I stacked my boxes in the middle of my studio, spider egg sacs and all.

I did finish scanning all the slides. A lot were throw away worthy. I converted over 200 slides to digital. That’s done. I can return the converter to my friend (I wanted it to convert 120 film to digital, but it doesn’t work for that size film. But it worked for the 35mm slides). Will return when society returns to normal.

Meanwhile, I have this stack of boxes to go through. Oy vey. I won’t be bored.