About Me

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Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in English, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with MA from R.I. School of Design. Barking Cat Books published my first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. My humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. In 2018 Barking Cat Books published my SURVIVING YOUR DREAM VACATION: 75 RULES TO KEEP YOUR COMPANION TALKING TO YOU ON THE ROAD. See website By CLICKING HERE.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022


                               A TENNIS PRIMER FOR WOMEN'S DOUBLES

             Borrowed from Karla Araujo's "Why You Should Never, Ever Tell the Truth 
                                                             in Tennis"

"Sorry about that! Are you OK?" I mutter to my partner, as she dusts the optic yellow fuzz and dusky green dirt from her skirt...My attempt at an offensive lob has fallen woefully short. Instead of rising to soaring heights over the net player, my shot peaked instead at the perfect height for the nearly six-foot-tall, Lululemon-garbed opponent to crush it at my partner's left thigh...What I'm really thinking is, "Why did you turn your back and run off the court like a chicken? If you had just held your ground, you could have reflexed that back over the net player!"

TennisSpeak...It's the unspoken language that lurks beneath the words we use on the court every day. The following is a glossary of TennisSpeak that every doubles player will recognize to keep the peace with both partners and opponents.

"Yours!"
Translation: I closed too tight to the net and if I tried to back up, the twenty extra pounds I'm carrying will make me tip over like Humpty-Dumpty.

"Mine!"
Translation: You missed the last four overheads, so I'll trample you if you don't get the hell out of my way!"

"Short!!" 
Translation: You're going to get creamed.

"Good idea!"
Translation: That was a really stupid shot you tried but I'm trying to stay positive because you're my partner.

"Bounce!"
Translation: Take that ball out of the air and I'll kill you because it's flying to the back fence.

"We'll do better next time, partner."
Translation: I'm dumping you for a taller partner who loves to poach. 

"Are you sure that was out?" (to opponent)
Translation: You lying broad! You know it caught the line.

"Have a nice match." (to opponents before play begins)
Translation: Were going to kill you b------.

"Nice match." (to opponents after you won)
Translation: We kicked your sorry asses.

"Nice match." (to opponents after we lost)
Translation: You guys didn't deserve to win. You hit all that soft, slicey-dicey crap and we're going to kill you the next time we see you.  I wish I hadn't had that second Cosmo last night and hadn't stayed up to watch the last six episodes of "The Gilded Age."


Friday, February 4, 2022

The Missing Cell Phone

 

Ira secured his racket across his back and checked the front pocket of his shorts for his cell phone. Despite the shallowness of the pocket, he could feel the phone nestled against an inside corner. He flung his leg over the bar on his bike and began pedaling two miles to the tennis courts at Countryside Estates.

Sweat poured onto his headband in the August heat, but the biking gave him an extra workout. With black elastic bandages wrapped around both knees, he planned to stay fit as long as his knees held up.

The bike ride gave him extra time to figure out his roster. He had volunteered to captain two of the teams in his community, and he suspected that without him, his teammates wouldn’t have had any idea where or when to show up for matches. He didn’t think some of his teammates could organize a grocery list, let alone team matches.

The morning’s effort proved worthwhile, as Ira’s team won at every position. Before sitting with a fresh bottle of cold water, he dug into his pocket to check his messages. He found nothing but lint.

“Hey, guys, did anyone see my cell phone on the court?” he yelled. He began a search of every inch of   clay where he’d played, as well as the patio where the teams had met before and after. No luck.

“Oh my God, I need my phone!” Ira started to panic. Although he never locked it (no password necessary) and he didn’t do business on it, he checked his messages hourly. The only times he didn’t have it on his body were when he was on the court or filling his stomach. All the grandchildren’s photos, his doctors’ appointments, an address book with two hundred contacts, texts, Facebook and FaceTime links, as well as emails were stored in the device. His shirt, soaked from the match, began dripping onto his shoes with the thought of trying to replicate the device.

“I’ll help you along the road,” Stuart said. “I can follow in my car.”

Ira jumped on his bike and began to pedal out the gate onto the bike lane, stopping every few yards to scour the pavement and grassy shoulders. Stu drove at 10 mph against traffic with his door open and flashers blinking. Although traffic was minimal, cars had to veer around him.

No luck. “I can’t believe it!” Ira shrieked. “I don’t know how I’m going to retrieve everything.”

“Do you use the ‘cloud?’” Stu asked, beside him on the grass where he’d pulled over outside the gate to Ira’s community.

“No, never took time to do that. I’d better get home and ask June to help. Thanks, Stu.”

Ira clunked his bike against the wall of the garage and stumbled through the door. “June, you’ve got to help me!” he gasped.

“What happened? Are you hurt? Oh my God, you’re gray!” his wife uttered in spasms, rising from the sofa on the other side of the kitchen. She could taste the acid her stomach was sending to her mouth. “Sit down and I’ll get you some water.” June helped him onto a kitchen chair and ran filtered tap water into a glass.

“I don’t need water! I need my phone!” Ira took a sip and tried to catch his breath. “It must have fallen out when I biked to the match. We need to go back!”

“Here’s a paper bag. Breathe into it for a few minutes to catch your breath. Are you sure you’re not hurt?”

“We need to go now. I already looked with Stu, but we couldn’t find it.”

“Ok, calm down and breathe into the bag for a few minutes. I’ll get my keys and phone. We can take my car.”

“How can I calm down? I need it to function! I’ll never wear those shorts again.”

June parked at the beginning of the bike path under some trees and left the flashing lights on. She locked the car and took her keys and phone. The two of them retraced Ira’s path, bent over like bloodhounds. It took well over an hour in 90-degree temperatures to cover almost two miles.

June and Ira approached the entrance to Countryside Estates, where a guard admitted visitors. “Has anyone turned in a cell phone?” Ira asked. “I lost mine on the way to the tennis match here this morning.”

“Sorry, sir, no-one’s turned in a cell phone.”

“Well, I need to leave my name and phone number with the manager at the courts, in case someone finds it.”

“I’ll need to see some identification, sir.”

“You have my name from the list of guests playing a match this morning! I don’t have anything with me.”

“Does this lady have any?” the guard asked.

“I’m his wife. We were in such a rush to get here, I didn’t bring mine.”

“Please just look at the list from this morning,” Ira begged. “My name’s Ira Kosloff.”

“Just a moment.” The guard disappeared into his “guard-house,” and in a few seconds the electric gate rose. Ira and June headed to the courts. After talking with the pro managing the courts, they had the same news. No phone had been turned in. Ira left his home number and he and June gulped water from a cooler before they began their trek back to June’s car.

“I have an idea,” Ira said, turning to June along the bike path. There was no answer from June, since she had decided not to speak to her husband until the phone turned up. “I need your phone, June.” June handed him the phone. Ira dialed his own cell number and heard it ring. After he heard his message, he spewed out, “This is the owner of the phone, Ira Kosloff. PLEASE, if you find my phone, dial my wife’s number at 708-939-0677. That’s 708-939-0677,” he said more slowly. “My phone is unlocked. I’ll offer a reward if you return it. Thank you.” Ira held June’s phone in his hand, afraid to put it back in his pocket. They continued to June’s car in silence.


About halfway down the path June’s phone rang. “Hello? Is this Ira Kosloff?” the female voice said.

“Yes! Who’s this?”

“I found your phone along the bike path this morning. I live in the trailer park just beyond the tennis courts at Countryside Estates. Are you nearby?”

“Oh, my God, I can’t believe someone found it! Yes, my wife’s car is parked under a tree with the lights flashing at the corner of Military Trail and Lake Ida Road. We’ve been looking for it all afternoon.”

“I’ll drive over to meet you.”

“Oh, I’m so grateful. I’ll be happy to give you a reward.”

“That won’t be necessary. I’ll look for your car under some trees at Lake Ida Road. What color is it?”

“Tan. We’ll head back there now. We’ve been scouring the bike path.”

“See you there.”

“June, we’ve got to get back to the car. A lady found my phone! Do you have some money to give her?”

“No, Ira, I just grabbed my keys and phone.”

When June and Ira got to her car, the lights were no longer flashing. “What now???” Ira moaned, grabbing June’s key to turn over the engine. There was nothing but a screech.

“Do you believe this?? You’d better call the guy who does your tune-ups, June. He can charge the battery.”

“Any more orders, Mr. Know-It-All?” June dialed the number for her local garage. “It will be about an hour till they get here,” she said, “but it may take longer. You can amuse yourself catching up with your messages while you wait. Maybe the lady can drive me home.”

“She said she didn’t want a reward, but we can get her name and address and mail it to her anyway.”

“She’s not the only one who’ll be getting a reward! I saw some shoes I’d like in Bloomingdale’s. I’ll be making a trip there tomorrow.”


Thursday, December 23, 2021

Florence Gold (A Real-life Encounter)


I took my seat at the table attached 90 degrees from where Julie had just finished trimming and polishing my claws. That’s what my split, sawed-off nails looked like after I’d wrapped two dozen Christmas gifts.  I stuck my hands under the blower when Julie said, “I have to warn you, Pam. My next client is a stage show. She changed her name from Florence Pasokaski to Flo Gold.”

“We just humor her along, but you’ll get a lot of blog material,” Liz chimed in from the station behind Julie. “She’s a real looney-tunes.”

At that moment someone flounced into the salon, waving at Julie and yelling “Hello, ladies,” under her imaginary spotlight. She swirled to the coat stand and deposited her boa and puffer coat, both purple. Next to it she placed the fake fur babushka from her head, revealing a purple wig that stuck out above her ears in stiff strands. Layers of black mascara spiders crawled against her eyelids and down her cheeks.

 “Just call me ‘Flo,’” she said, introducing herself to me as she bent toward Julie’s forehead to plant a loud smack through her mask. “My last name is ‘Gold,’ so if you put it together…get it? Flo Gold…like my Grand Marquis outside – all gold.

“Hello, Julie,” Flo continued, waving her arms above her head to all five of us getting manicures at that moment. “How’s the world’s best nail girl?”

Julie managed a thin smile toward Flo. “We prefer to be called manicurists,” she said. “I’m fine, Flo. Thanks for asking. This is Pam.”

I nodded in Flo’s direction and smiled behind my mask. Flo plopped into the chair behind the Plexiglas separating her from Julie. “How’s your fibro myalgia treating you today?” Julie asked.

“I’m not due for a shot till Monday. It hurts like a pisser. I’ve got to keep my arms above my head as long as possible. And I’m always cold, especially since I had to shave my head. The damn synthetic wigs don’t keep my pate warm. The temperature could be a little warmer in here, by the way.”

“I’ll put it up two degrees while you’re here, but if the other clients complain, I’ll have to turn it back to 70. Why didn’t you wear your purple turtleneck?”

“The pink one matched my pink and white sneakers. Anyway, I’m a Fibro Warrior. I’ve been to the Outer Limits and back.”

“We know that, Flo,” Julie answered with a smirk, adjusting the thermostat. “How’s your love life?”

“Well, I met a new possibility at Starbucks this week. I stopped in for my usual mocha latte and he was sitting at the next table. He’s in his forties and we chit-chatted. I flirted a little and he asked me to dinner on Wednesday night. I met him at Applebee’s and we hit it off. He called me his ‘cougar,’ but he seemed a little scared. Don’t know if it will last.”

“I thought you were still seeing Davy the lifeguard?”

“He was a summer fling. We went out a few times after that. I was making day trips down to Newport to see him but he expected favors in return. Back in September when I asked him to keep the pool temperature at 85, the management fired him. They said members were complaining it was too warm. He blamed me.”

“Didn’t you have a problem with the temperature in your apartment building?” asked Julie, grabbing a shimmery purple polish from the display. “By the way, I assume you want your usual polish?”

“Absolutely no other!” Flo shot back. “The temperature dispute was because I had the apartment on the first floor right inside the outside door, and when it opened, my apartment got cold in the winter. So I asked the maintenance man to turn the thermostat in the hall up five degrees. Well, the other tenants on my floor complained to the landlord it was getting too warm.  I don’t know why drama follows me wherever I go.”

“Did they insulate your front door?” I asked, trapped in Flo’s web. Her spidery mascara should have given me a clue.

“They didn’t do anything and I couldn’t stand it. The cold air seeped right under my door. My purple satin sheets and comforter didn’t keep me warm! I have to sleep in satin, you know, because they’re easy on my fibro pain,” she said, turning to me. “But I had to move. And it was right around the time I lost my job.”

“What a shame!” 

“I used to be a legal secretary before the fibro got bad.”

“Did you wear purple to work every day?” I asked, trying not to giggle.

“Only in winter. I love to see the smiles when I wear my purple! In summer my favorite is my fuchsia camisole and orange short-shorts. I wear them to clean my Grand Marquis, along with my pink neon baseball hat. And I have my tattoo that I can show off.” Flo pulled her pants above her sneakers to reveal a six-inch palm tree against a setting sun. “I got a few good dates with that outfit!”

I could imagine Florence Pasokaski, a.k.a. Flo Gold, sloshing water over her car in her short shorts with her ample bosoms hitting the hood. My guess was she couldn’t be a day under sixty-five.

“The worst was in the summer when I went to the pool at the apartment complex. The chairs have plastic slats and my skin would stick to them and rip. So I wore my wet suit down there. But then I got too hot. I could only stay a few minutes.”

“If you have a wet suit, did you ever snorkel or scuba dive?” I asked.

Flo held onto the edge of the table, doubled over in laughter. “Oh, you just smudged your polish, Flo!” Julie scolded.

“Sorry, Julie. Oh, that’s hilarious – me scuba diving! I’d have to wear a swim cap and I know what the shape of my shaved head looks like – a peeled egg. I need fluff around it. No, I had to get the ridiculous wet suit to sit in the sun. But like I said, it got too hot, even though it was real thin and I’d sit in the shade.”

By this time my nails had dried and I had to give up my seat for Flo. I was reluctant to leave the free entertainment, however.

“Julie, I need to book once a month for the whole year. If I have the appointments in my notebook, my life will be organized. Would you mind writing them in for me?” Flo asked.

Julie picked up Flo’s notebook and the purple pen Flo had placed next to the dryer.

“Every month on a Tuesday, starting four weeks from now?” Julie asked.

“Oui, mademoiselle,” Florence Pasokaski answered.

“Pam, do you need an appointment?”

“Yes, please book me right before Flo’s. I’ve enjoyed every minute,” I said, flinging a scarf around my neck with some of Flo’s flair.

“Likewise, darling. See you next time.”

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, September 24, 2021

Memory Flash: Autumn

 




In the heat I’m struggling to hold up my end of our twosome. At least I was able to win my serve, setting up my partner at the net for overhead smashes and touch volleys. We change ends and I tip my H2O bottle, guzzling water mixed with Diet Gatorade. Liquid resembling iced tea drips down my chin and spills onto the clay. I may need some cases when I hit the grocery store.

Did I put apples on my shopping list? “This humidity is brutal,” one of our opponents says on the change-over. “We really need a cold snap to break it.”

What else is on my shopping list? Water, Gatorade, and apples. The apple tree in our yard was cut too harshly by the arborist and this season won't bear any of the Delicious variety we love. We could always go to the orchard in Rhode Island, where we took one of our granddaughters.

It was hot then, too.  I had worn a sweatshirt and had to wrap it around my waist. My forehead dripped onto my sneakers, which began to resemble tie-dyed patterns of fallen apple residue and sweat. Yellowjackets swarmed over the saccharine remains, and trying to escape them made me glisten more. 

The orchard owner had pointed out on a map where the different varieties were growing. Eight-year-old Arden and I balanced the bright orange metal picker vertically between us, her auburn curls bobbing up and down with each step. The ten-foot picker rocked like a metronome to her bobbing. We took off down row three for the Delicious variety, with their deep red heart shape and bumps on the bottom.

“Grandma, I can’t reach,” Arden said, looking up at the tree we selected. The lowest apple was about ten feet above her head.

“Don’t worry. I’ll lift you."

I got behind her, while Arden lifted the orange basket with its long metal prongs into the air. The picker began to swing back and forth like a flag in a soft breeze. “Aim for that big one in front. Sit the apple in the basket, then pull down. The prongs will grab it.”

I lifted her hips and heaved upward. “I can’t reach it,” Arden yelled. “I’ve got to let go!”

“Hold on! I’ll lift you higher." My thighs started to shake. The long orange shaft waved right and left like a flag caught in a storm. 

A thud and then another resounded in front of us, as the bright metal shaft hit the ground and bounced under our tree. Arden, wrapped in my arms, landed on top of me, facing the hanging apples. We lay together in the middle of the cidery, gelatinous mash.

"You okay, granny?" she shrieked.

I pulled a dented, brown Delicious from my twisted sweatshirt and tumbled over her, alternating laughter with kisses in her neck. 

“Five-four,” Shelly says from the other end of the court. "First serve."


Monday, August 16, 2021

Is Happiness Based on Our Social Interactions?

How we define our state of mind for the foreseeable future may be a result of our 2020-2021 Covid experiences.

According ro Emile Durkheim, a pioneering sociologist of the early 20th century, "our greatest bliss is found in moments of collective effervescence." There is energy and harmony in a group, large or small, that is sharing a purpose.

Those moments were few during Covid quarantines and their aftermath. Emotions that spread from person to person in a collective (without our realizing it) were missing. Lockdowns and distancing prevented touching and sharing joy or purpose. The number of adults with symptoms of depression or anxiety spiked during our isolation in 2020 (NY Times Sunday Review, July 11, 2021, "The Joy We've Been Missing," Adam Grant, pg. 3).

Fear was the first negative emotion to spread. We hoarded toilet paper, masks, hand sanitizer, and scrubbed our groceries. Depression became contagious through social media. In order not to succumb to negative emotional contagion on the internet (Zoom meetings, etc.), eye contact was avoided. Introverts, as well as extroverts, missed collective effervescence and languished somewhere between stagnation and survival. I was one of those. This is the first blog I've written in several months. 

In May, '21, Charley and I finally joined in collective happiness again. We hugged our loved ones, went to dinner with friends and family (in their homes!), and planned summer trips. Others went to work in person instead of in their pajama bottoms. We had a new understanding of mental health and our individual happiness. We began to grasp that flourishing includes collective effervescence. We witnessed Italians singing together out their windows, residents of New York City honoring essential workers with fireworks, homemade signs, and a march. To be loved, we needed to profess love. We were back on track, social distancing and masks a memory, vaccinations in our arms.

But SURPRISE! Covid had mutated! The Delta variant has increased the probability that those who are unvaccinated and contract the virus will be hospitalized and stricken more severely than those who have been vaccinated. Even the Summer Olympics couldn't distract us from the news of spikes in the variant among certain states across the south and of hospitals that were overwhelmed there. Our collective effervescence turned to a lack of understanding of those who chose to remain unvaccinated. In early August, 2021, one in three Americans who were eligible for the vaccine hadn't received a single dose. Lives, jobs, experiences, money, mental and physical health, were again in jeopardy. Anger can become a contagious emotion. The difference between it and collective effervescence is that anger can hurt oneself or others. We began to don masks, change plans, and worry about our loved remaining safe once again (two of our grandsons were under twelve, too young to be eligible for the vaccines).

Exhausted, despairing rage was finding comfort in turning complex realities into simple "us" versus "them" categories. A study of survey results among those eligible in March '21 found that 22% in the study hadn't gotten the vaccine because of concerns about cost, safety, or systems that already "did them wrong" (NY Times Sunday Review, August 8, 2021, "What to Do With Our Covid Rage," Sarah Smarsh, pg. 4).

Sarah Smarsh in her article, "What to Do With Our Covid Rage," suggests ways to close the gap between those vaccinated and those unvaccinated in this country. A lack of money, power, and education has kept uninsured Americans among the group with the lowest vaccination rate among 22 subgroups examined by the Kaiser Family Foundation (NY Times Sunday Review, August 8, 2021, "What to Do With Our Covid Rage," Sarah Smarsh, pg. 4).  Smarsh suggests we "demand public health MANDATES; we communicate with the cost-anxious and wait-and-see people who remain open-minded despite skepticism wrought by a lifetime of disadvantage; we do good deeds to negate harmful ones, like donating money to a nonprofit health clinic..."

Americans were among the first in the world to receive the vaccines into our blood, thanks to a feat of modern science. W:ith a booster shot awaiting approval for the general public, those who receive the serum will almost certainly survive the pandemic in its present forms to feel the collective effervescence again in a sports stadium, community building, at an indoor wedding, or at a school play. 



Thursday, May 6, 2021

On Our Shores






During the night of May 3, 2021, the fourth boatload of Haitians in the new year grounded itself on a beach in southern Palm Beach County, Florida. The beach happened to be in front of our condo building.

Human smugglers ran the boat onto the beach after someone on the vessel had called the Coast Guard. Twenty-nine migrants jumped onto the coral reef in waist-deep water to run to an oceanfront park, where they were detained by the border patrol and taken to a station in West Palm Beach. There they were interviewed and processed for removal. Included in the group was a pregnant mother.

Charley and I didn't hear the Coast Guard cutter deployed during the night or the helicopter (they frequent our shores) or the local police that responded from three communities. We did see the beached 45' fishing vessel and two small Coast Guard boats patrolling in the morning. Five days later, despite daily calls to three government agencies, the boat remained grounded in the same location with flotation devices attached. Ocean Rescue and Environmental Resource Management reported that after the fuel leaked, the boat would be deconstructed and removed. The agency in charge of the boat and its removal was Customs and Border Protection's marine unit.

During a landing on our beach another year, we were startled by an FBI helicopter's searchlights so intense that, although no migrants could be found in our apartment, we ran to close all the storm shutters. The spotlights reached into every room except interior bathrooms and closets. We later learned that FBI dogs scouring the property had found several Haitians hiding in shubbery, under cars, and in ramps to buildings.

Legalized Haitian immigrants account for less than 2% of the U.S. foreign-born population, though in 2018 their number increased to almost 700,000. The 2010 earthquake (displacing 1.5 million), Hurricane Matthew in 2016, endemic poverty, and political unrest have driven Haitian migrants to smugglers who charge thousands of dollars per person to drop them off the Florida shore. They then ram their stolen vessels onto the beach. Others attempt the crossing in sailboats or rafts. 

Haitians in Florida accounted for 49% of all Haitians in the U.S. in 2018. Among legitimate Haitian immigrants 16 years and older, 71% participated in the civilian labor force in 2018, most in service occupations. The same year, 61% residing in the U.S. were naturalized citizens and approximately 21,400 had obtained a green card. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or family-sponsored "preferences" (adult children, siblings, or spouses and children of green card holders) were granted easier access without risking the treacherous waters between Haiti and Florida. 

The administrative and legislative measures against terrorism taken by the U.S. government since the 2001 attacks are most vigorous in relation to military reinforcement of the borders via land and sea, use of high-tech E-verification and drones, as well as criminalization of illegal migration. (Information in above three paragraphs courtesy of "Migration Information Source" by Kira Olsen-Medina and Jeanne Batalova, Online Journal of Migration, August 12, 2020)

Haiti's current political unrest centers around President Jovenel Moise's legitimacy. His opposition claims the President's 5-year term should have ended February 7, 2021. Moise claims he has one year left to serve after taking office officially. (Jorge Milian, "29 Haitian Migrants Make Land, Detained," Palm Beach Post, May 4, 2021, p. 1)

Under the 1994 and 1995 U.S.-CUBAN migration accords, any CUBAN who reaches U.S. soil is paroled into the country. The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 allowed Cubans to be eligible for a fast track to permanent residency.

Meanwhile, at the U.S.-Mexican border, U.S. agents are overwhelmed by migrants crossing rivers and deserts, often aided by local U.S. police as they step onto U.S. soil. There were 22,500 UNACCOMPANIED minors who crossed from Mexico in early May, 2021, being held in overcrowded detention centers meant for adults. They are eventually transferred to health officials in the Office of Refugee Resettlement. 

May we never forget the sacrifice thousands make every year to become residents of the U.S.A.


Caught in the coral

Flotation devices

Onto the beach

Demolition started


Friday, April 2, 2021

In Retrospect

Looking at photos I took during a walk in Florida in March, 2020, I hardly recognize the street where we walk every day. A year ago, yellow tape roped off beaches and pools; stores and restaurants had "Closed" signs across their doors; masked figures patrolled the streets.

Today, masks still prevail...except on beaches where mobs of spring breakers sway shoulder to shoulder, while police push, spray, arrest, and declare a curfew. Covid 19 will have its way, with a fourth spike threatening.


We haven't been ill, though family members have been. Recently, we lost a brother-in-law to cancer. We have shelter without multiple generations living under one roof. We have food. We aren't sending our children or grandchildren on a forced march across thousands of miles to safety. We haven't been forcibly or unjustly detained or killed.

The horror of the spring and chaos of the summer have given way to a new "normal." This "normal" means I'm not scurrying through the grocery store like a mouse in a maze, although I still wipe every item with a disinfecting square when I get home. We can now sit outside at restaurants. We explore our narrow world inside four walls and our environs within a drive of several hours. We take advantage of the weather to exercise outdoors as much as possible. We no longer run to meetings and appointments throughout the day and have found we enjoy the new pace. We have rekindled our relationships with family and friends on Zoom or Facetime or over the phone. 

As of April 1, 2021, 29% of the U.S. population had been vaccinated with at least one dose of a Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson serum. Citizens numbering 534,387 had perished, alone and unable to breathe. Charley and I were fortunate to receive two doses of the Pfizer vaccine in February in Florida. The future looked brighter. 

Our relationship to our home has altered. We have "nested." A refuge, a prison at times, it has become our space for work, experimental cooking, rest, recreation, and physical activity. Zoom has brought our homes into public view. I look around, tired of the same walls, the same furnishings, the same spaces that have become filled. At least we have walls to look at! We have windows to keep out the elements. We have a bed and light that comes on with a switch, and if the plumbing stops working, we can get it fixed. Our mail comes regularly (slowly); there is water and it's hot.

Domestic harmony has become a priority, as we spend almost twenty hours together each day. Fortunately, we each have private spaces within our home and since we're in Florida, we can always retreat outdoors for isolation!

And yet, it feels like a lost, numb year, particularly for our grandkids, struggling to maintain a flow of learning between a physical classroom and a screen. Distance from our loved ones has made hugs a gift we dream of. Spinning in a tight circle and reading piles of books, I stalled out, unable to start another manuscript. I waited for motivation or inspiration. Spontaneity and joy were missing.


And yet, creativity must remain our salvation - at work, at school, in decompression. I re-energize with my surroundings - the wildlife, the beauty of nature, the love - and look forward to when "normal" isn't an exhausting state of emergency.