Everything is Weird

Zoom! That’s what Bob and I did last week – only we weren’t on a video meeting, we were on an airplane. This is the only time since 9/11 that this has felt weird. And the only time ever that I can remember when masks were expected, I should say required, to be able to board the plane.

We were among 30 souls on a flight to Milwaukee. This golf trip had been on our calendar for months, and we were thankful that it was not canceled. Bob had been looking forward to playing with our son and his sons on the famed Whistling Straits golf course. He was not disappointed. It was beautiful most days and unseasonably warm, which means perfect for us Floridians.

But it was a weird trip. From the moment we pulled up to the curb at Orlando International and found no cars lined up dropping off passengers, it just kept getting stranger. No lines to check in. No one in front of us at TSA. No problems!

Orlando International Airport – May 25, 2020

Once on board, I settled into my window seat, bucked my seatbelt, and slid my mask down. I don’t know how people do it when they must work all day in one of those things! Bob was shocked to see my mask dangling from my neck. I am usually the rule-follower, but there was nobody except him within 20 feet of me – another advantage of the window seat.

The “service” on the plane was different. Canned water and real plastic straws were available, as were little packets of pretzel mix. These were easy for the flight attendants to toss to us from a safe distance. The cans of water – not so much!

My one disappointment – the typically funny Southwest crew had lost their sense of humor. I think it was the masks. Who can blame them!

Once we arrived in Kohler, Wisconsin, it was time to have our temperature taken and take a little quiz as to our prior activities and places we have been. You would have been proud of me, as I answered honestly and kept my inner smart alec under control. I was pretty sure telling them I lived in NYC would have been a bad idea. For once, being from Orlando seemed to be a perk.

The isolation in Wisconsin was much more pronounced than it has been here at home. They had just opened the state, and when I say opened, I mean that if you searched, you could find things that were open. Those things did not include spas, which my daughter-in-law and I had looked forward to visiting while the guys played golf. But we settled for having our temperature taken a lot – that’s almost as good.

Blackwater Run Meadows Golf Course

There was always shopping, which is cheaper than a spa, but again it was weird. We read the sign on the door to a boutique and knew we had to wear a mask and sanitize our hands. We opened the door and stood at the sanitization station spreading hand sanitizer over our hands in the full view of the only person in the store. She looked panicked to see our unmasked faces and rushed halfway across the store to tell us that we had to wear a mask. I assured her that I had not been fast enough to don a mask while sanitizing my hands and that we would comply, but the whole thing made me sad. She was afraid. I’m not sure if she was afraid of contracting COVID-19, or if she was afraid that she would get in trouble for having an unmasked person in the boutique, or maybe I have a foreboding air about me that I don’t realize. There was such a palpable fear and anxiety in her. I am ready for the fear to be gone.

After we started browsing around, she relaxed a bit, but she kept apologizing for the fact that the town was mostly closed. When I tried to tell her that it was okay, she said, “I hope you’ll come back another time when everything is open.”

I replied, “Oh, we’re never coming back,” but she didn’t give me a chance to finish my statement. She started apologizing again. Finally, I was able to persuade her that it had nothing to do with her or the town or anything other than we came for the guys to golf. They golfed. On to the next golf course. In short – she was a wreck. Poor lady! Seriously, I felt for her.

I think I would have enjoyed Kohler more under normal circumstances, but my husband got to play golf with our son and grandsons; and they had a great time. Successful trip!

Whistling Straits

Our flight home was uneventful except for Bob getting yelled at by a flight attendant. His favored aisle seat has disadvantages. When we were in the airport at Milwaukee, there was one restaurant open. I innocently bought a snack and a beer for the plane ride – I’m old enough! What I did not know was that there was no alcohol allowed on the plane. Since Bob gave him my trash, he assumed that Bob was the perpetrator. I just remained in my window seat pretending I was asleep and chuckling softly.

There was something weird about the Milwaukee airport. After going through security, there is an area to put yourself back together again – shoes, keys, cell phone, laptop. It can take time, so you need an area for that to happen.

This is where you go to get recombobulated after you have been discombobulated.

I love words and this one is a doozie. I had never heard it before but immediately knew what it meant. Barry Bateman, former airport director, never heard it before either, so he invented it. I love it! I think we should have Recombobulation Areas all through the country and not limit them to airports. So many of us are feeling angry and depressed, or baffled, befuddled, bewildered, buffaloed, confounded, confused, flummoxed, perplexed, puzzled, vexed, or even discombobulated. We can all agree that things just aren’t right in the world today. We all need some recombobulation. I’m hoping that now that we are allowed out of our houses, we can get to work on that.

 

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:18

People – or – Who is That Masked Person?

Everyday faces of people who are on the front lines of the pandemic grace our news feeds. A huge thank you to all of those folks.

Today I want to feature faces of people who you will likely not see on the news. People who I meet as I’m walking down the aisle at Publix or in the parking lot at Walgreens. People who are part of my family or my church.

There is more to each of these people than meets the eye. And I’m not just talking about their nose and mouth. They all have a story. They all have people they love. They all are pretty tired of life’s adjustments over the last couple of months.

These people include a bride-to-be at her virtual bridal shower, the young man taking my order at Chic-fil-a, the young woman whose mom in Nevada made a mask for her and sent it to help keep her safe, newly weds, oldly weds, and the fun lady whom I met at the bakery in Publix. There’s my granddaughter, and a dad and his daughter. There are close friends of mine. I even threw in the Mayor of Orlando, mainly because I like the way Orange County Sheriff John Mina is looking at him. I think he’s wondering why the mayor didn’t bring masks for everyone.

To show you these beautiful faces, I asked several people, some of whom I do not know, to allow me to take and post their picture. Every one of them said yes. Isn’t that fun? With a six-foot social distancing mandate, it’s harder than ever to chat with people, but I’m finding that a lot of folks are eager for a kind word or even to have their picture taken. Especially since my goal was to encourage people to look behind the mask (figuratively, of course). Make eye contact. Smile and say hello. I know – I’m in the South, but I’m pretty sure it will work wherever you find yourself.

Meanwhile, we continue to pray for God’s healing, mercy, and comfort. And we remember to smile with our eyes until we can stop wearing these crazy masks.

 

People.

People who are people.

They’re the peopliest people in the world.

(That’s my version of People, the song made famous by Barbra Streisand. I guess I can’t copyright that.)

 

April 30 – The End is Near?

I am hopeful that some semblance of normal life is just around the corner. I am also aware that some of the corners we round are blind corners – it can take a while to get around them and you don’t know what you’ll face once you do. I’m not sure what end is near. Maybe just the end of April. Hopefully the end of so many ordinary things being closed and the end of being sequestered in our homes but mostly the end of this horrible virus.

For those of you who have suffered loss during this season of COVID-19, my heart goes out to you. Your normal is forever changed. I’m so sorry. I continue to pray for comfort, healing, and God’s mercy.

In keeping with the title of my blog, I also continue to look for the light side of whatever life looks like. Sometimes that side is funny and sometimes it is brilliant with the light of God shining through a situation. Sometimes it’s hard to find that light, but God is always there, even in the darkness. May you feel his presence in a greater way than ever.

I’ve taken some pictures as I’ve traversed my part of the world this past month. (I decided to use a big word for those little trips out of the house.) I want to reprioritize my life a little and remember and appreciate what we have, had, and will have. I want to remember how hard people worked to keep us safe even if they made mistakes while doing so. I realize that it’s easy to forget, so here’s my perspective of how things have looked in Altamonte Springs, Florida, during the April 2020 pandemic. (more…)

These Words are Driving me Crazy

It isn’t getting easier being isolated. I don’t think I have anything new to learn regarding social distancing and hand washing.

On the other hand, I am sleeping well and have food in the house enough for several weeks. I have had long conversations with family and friends over the phone and Facetime. I never miss our church service. My quiet time in the morning can start and end anytime I’d like. I have much to be thankful for.

But I miss being around people. I miss going to my birding drive (Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive). I even miss seeing our news anchors sitting side-by-side. The novelty of seeing them in their living room or pool lanai has worn off. I miss the after-church fellowship every Sunday. I miss my family more than ever. (more…)

Six Degrees of Coronavirus?

 

Glad I stocked up before flu season hit!

The last week of January, Bob went to Oregon on business. We had begun to hear rumblings about the Coronavirus, but I was only mildly alerted regarding Bob’s trip. I reminded him to take hand sanitizer (which was in abundance at that time) and asked him to steer clear of anybody who may have traveled to China.

By mid-March, I was mentally exhausted from the reporting of this horrible virus. Little did I know that we’d only just begun.

We were expecting a visit from my sister from Washington State on March 11. A week earlier, northwestern Washington had become an epicenter of outbreak; and my sister was debating the wisdom of making the trip, which was to celebrate our mother’s 92nd birthday. Since she lives in northeastern Washington, we agreed she should come. By the time she landed in Orlando on the 11th, Kirkland, Washington, was all over the news.

As you can imagine, that put some stress on our visit.

The next day our other sister arrived from Georgia – thankfully an easy drive for her. We determined to and did enjoy the celebration, but there was a Corona cloud over our time together. It hung over us like humidity on a summer night. Thick and icky. We quickly began to realize that we were at the beginning of new daily and hourly updates of how our country was weathering this invasion.

It certainly has made me think twice about using the word “viral.” Nobody wants to go viral now.

In less than a week we went from hand washing tutorials to the new term “social distancing.” And the socially safe distance changed in that time as well – from no gatherings over 100 to 50 to 10 to just stay home. It was head spinning. We began to wonder if my sister and her husband would even be able to fly home. And the underlying question on everyone’s mind – is their enough toilet paper to go around?

So surreal! When my family returned to their own homes on March 18, we all breathed a sigh of relief. When things are falling apart, there’s no place like home.

Now we are looking at six feet of separation as a bare minimum and more likely being homebound (sheltering in place) as our country comes together to fight this awful thing.

But, as you maybe can imagine if you’ve been following me for a while, funny things started stirring in my mind. Things that could be funny about this but weren’t funny yet. Distance – time not social – allows the funny to seep into our life again.

For instance, I was talking to Bob last week and told him it looked to me like the cases of COVID-19 were increasing exponentially.

Bob – “Exponentially! That’s a math term.”

Me feeling proud – “I know.”

Bob – “I don’t think it’s truly going up exponentially. What exponent are you using?”

Me – “Two. I thought I could handle that one.”

Bob – silence

Me – “I hear the cases of COVID-19 are rising steadily.”

Also, did you know that going stir crazy refers to being in prison? Stir is a slang word for prison. Maybe you think you’re going stir crazy, but unless you are in prison, what you may be experiencing is cabin fever, which does not involve a literal fever. So, don’t sweat it. Remember, if you’re breaking out in a sweat, then your fever is likely breaking. Also, you don’t have to live in a cabin to have cabin fever. You can have condo fever, mansion fever, apartment fever, or even split-level ranch fever. It’s all the same. It knows no social difference – all it knows is it wants out.

So, I imagine our new normal is like yours. We are careful about everything. My 92-year-old mom lives with us, so nobody comes in our house. I spray the mail down with Lysol, for crying out loud! And you know what? That is funny. Picture me standing in the garage by the trash can sorting, spraying, tossing, and then washing my hands vigorously while singing Happy Birthday. All because I got the mail. Out of the box at the end of my driveway. Yep, that’s what it’s come to.

Then I thought about Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon (the party game based on the theory that any two people on earth are no more than six acquaintances apart). That’s when I realized that I could not separate my thoughts from the Coronavirus by six degrees. If I got to two that was an accomplishment.

I conducted an experiment where I would not talk at the dinner table regarding anything connected with the virus. It was a quiet night. I guess I should have told Bob what I was doing, because it was the quietest five minutes we’ve ever had at the table. No – it doesn’t take me only five minutes to eat. Yes – that’s about how long I lasted before I gave up. And yes again – I think Bob enjoyed the silence – however brief.

I discovered I couldn’t talk about the following:

  1. My grandkids in NC. They are being home schooled now because …
  2. Our son in MI. He is teaching remotely from home because …
  3. Our local grandsons. We can’t get together with them because …
  4. Our weekly church meetings are now on Facebook Live because …
  5. You can only buy one thing of paper or cleaning products because …
  6. The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive (aka birding drive). We can’t go – it’s closed because …
  7. Going to a restaurant. I’m not sure I want to go where people are because … and then the restaurants closed because …
  8. The place where Mom and I get our nails done. We were there the last day it was open. It’s now closed because …
  9. Bob working from home because …
  10. Disney World. Yes, Disney, Universal, and all the theme parks are closed because …

 

So, you see we don’t need six degrees. We don’t even need two! Everything in life right now points back to that stupid virus.

When I told Bob what I was trying to do, we both realized it was futile to try to keep from talking about it. It’s affecting our daily lives and the lives of everyone we know and love. We need to talk and share and cry and laugh and pray. And that’s what we’re doing. That and a lot of reading, puzzles and games, walks, bike rides, and bird watching.

1000 pieces! I joked that this one was saved in case of a pandemic.

We have family members who are job searching, family members who are in medical and financial professions, family who are teachers. We have family who are young and old and in between. We have friends who are becoming grandparents and friends whose parents have passed during this time. It’s okay to talk about how the virus has affected all these things.

But I do want to keep my focus and not let the negative or downright scary dominate my speech. Of course, we need to discuss what the current events are regarding the pandemic, but we really need to think about and speak about more positive things.

Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].

Philippians 4:8 (Amplified Bible)

If any of you have family on the front lines and would like me to add them to my prayer list, please let me know. For that matter, any other needs you have are welcomed too. Thanks for reading and may God bless and keep you.

(more…)

Scrabble and Sparrows

I don’t need to post about the Coronavirus. I have no information for you that you don’t already have. Interestingly, on the same day that it was revealed that Tom Hanks had the virus, WHO also declared it a pandemic. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t think that Tom Hanks is amazing, so that brings us together against a common viral enemy.

But what’s really been on my mind is the sparrows. As you know by now, I am a bird enthusiast. I have my favorites like I do actors. Tom Hanks would be a favorite actor. He’s like a mocking bird – he stars in lots of movies and I love watching him act. You’ll never hear me say, “Oh, that’s just another Tom Hanks movie. There are dozens of them. Isn’t there anybody special out there? Someone rare who I can watch?”

But I do find myself talking about certain birds like they are nothing. When I think I’ve spotted something unusual and then discover that I have not, I may say something like, “Oh, that’s just a sparrow.”

Just a sparrow! No, no, no.

If I want to think biblically, then I need to remember how God thinks about sparrows. They may blend in and look pretty plain, but they have amazing voices and are so cute. There are more types of sparrows than I can name. It’s kind of like trying to name all the Tom Hanks movies.

Hear the words of Jesus from Matthew 10:29-31:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

With regard to being afraid during the COVID-19 pandemic, I must admit to being tempted. Part of it is because it’s the topic of the day – 24 hours a day. It’s too much so I need to practice social media distancing.

I have prepared my household. I have all the necessities (and more, if I’m being completely honest). I can be at peace. There is only so much a person can do, so why fret over what I cannot control.

You and I are worth more than sparrows. God singles out the common sparrow to make his point. You may have difficulty finding the sparrow in this picture, but God knows if he falls to the ground. Amazing.

And also, I’m thankful for a sense of humor. If we don’t smile about how the lowly roll of toilet paper has become the most valuable commodity on the market, then we’re doomed.

Another example of how everything seems to point to the Coronavirus is a recent game of Scrabble that I played with my mom.

Doomed, toxic, legit, soap, warned.

To sum things up, do the following:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Do your best to have toilet paper for your household.
  3. Stay home if you’re not feeling well.
  4. Watch a Tom Hanks movie.
  5. Enjoy nature, especially sparrows.
  6. Take care of your sense of humor.
  7. Practice social distancing – both person-to-person and social media as needed.
  8. Remember that God loves you. You are worth far more than a sparrow.