My Life in the “New Normal”

My idea of living with the pandemic evolves. When I made the decision to cancel my trip to New York in March I was thinking about a couple of months and then a return to the way I usual do life. As many hunkered down, I prepared for lockdown mode. My pantry had enough provisions, and I bonded with my puppy.

Things opened up, but my husband and I kept to ourselves mostly. Went out only when the risk warranted. Learned how to Zoom, and kept in touch by telephone and FaceTime. I enrolled Charlie in classes online Zoom style. Risk lowered, and the nice weather called me to explore the world. But still I hesitated.

After I took Charlie to the groomer I was tempted to lower my guard and take myself for a haircut. The last time I had my haircut was in early February. It seems like a lifetime ago. For the first time in many, many decades I can pull my hair back into a ponytail. Not exactly the look I was going for in my seventies. So I masked up, called up my stylist, and trimmed up my hair. My hair is now one length, I can still pull it back if I need to, and I feel so much better.

Selfies are not my thing!

So here come the holidays. Halloween just passed, and I decided that I would avoid the “Trick or Treat” scene. My grandsons stopped by in their costumes and looked like they had a fun day.

Actually the only character I recognized was “The Hulk”, but they all looked Super!

As it happens, our block was especially quiet. Not one visitor rang our doorbell. I hope that by next year Charlie will be able to calmly greet costumed kids.

Charlie calmly sharing time with us while we play Zoom BINGO with Ed and Leti!

This year would have been a challenge. Maybe next year I will find a Halloween collar that I know I still have somewhere in the house. I have a full year to decide what if any humiliating costume I will put on Charlie.

For now, I can look over my photos of Halloween over the years. Staring Alyssa, Isaac, Eli, Lucas and Wyatt. Rachel and Sean are along for the ride!

Next year we have another Pumpkin to treat!

Our election is over in everyone’s mind except for you know who. I worry about the next couple of weeks until January 20th. What’s life without something to worry about?

Sanity restoration needed for 2021!

My grandson’s 5th and 3rd birthday sandwich Thanksgiving Day. The country is not moving in a good direction with the pandemic. Numbers are rising, and I hope to ride out CoVid 19 and really have something to celebrate in 2021! So I guess, as all the special occasions that have been delayed these celebrations will need to wait.

For now, I will shop online, be thankful for all that surrounds me, and enjoy the little things that make my life special.

Can you really ever plan something?

About two weeks ago I prepared myself to be a long-distance grandma. I began to investigate photo frames to get pictures all the time. It would be some time before David and I could travel to be together. Thoughts went through my mind, and I felt sad but hoped that by moving to another state her family would find peace and happiness.

Packed up and ready for their big adventure!

My daughter and family sold their house and packed up to move to Knoxville, Tennessee. This was a sudden decision pushed forward quickly by the CoVid 19 pandemic. School was starting soon and her thought was attending school was better than distant zoom learning. Well, after driving for 4 days in the van with her family of 4 boys and a small dog they arrived in Tennessee. Driving up a road named 13 curves proved to be Knoxville’s undoing. Got a call, and in less than 2 weeks, the family arrived back in Sacramento on September 8th. Costly lesson learned. Don’t buy a house sight unseen in a place you have never visited. Luckily, her husband was able to resume his job.

Life has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. Charlie enjoyed having visits with the boys. Eli is particularly good with him. and his pitching arm has landed a couple of balls in my neighbor’s yard. Lucas, the four-year-old, helped with the training by playing a game called, “Mother May I”. The baby has clean toes compliments of Charlie’s licking them. Wyatt, the two-year-old just thinks Charlie is funny.

So Eli started third grade on Zoom, the family made use of our water (showers and laundry), and my stressed-out daughter took care of reestablishing herself. Moving is always a stressful situation. Looking for a home with a contingency is not much fun. It is a seller’s market. Good for the house she is selling in Tennessee, not so good for finding a home she plans to live in.

All her stuff finally made it to Waldon, Tn. in a Pod. It took almost a week of negotiating a “Gypsy Moth” form to get her possessions to return to California. It was filled and refiled almost a dozen times. The date of arrival is in early October. The question remains, where will this family of 6 live???

Tension abounds here, and everywhere.

The strangest year – 2020 – note the cobwebs!

Inhaling the smoke from the fires that surround the area can be the equivalent of smoking 20 packs of cigarettes according to the governor. Add to this a presidential election year. Sorry no pictures. I only went outside to take Charlie out for many, many days.

This is a very, very, very important presidential race. This county desperately needs some sanity in a leader.

Becoming “Ruth less” with the passing of the Notorious RBG. I think this was designed before her passing, and I hope that next year she will reign supreme!

RIP Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Add to this the large response to protest continued police killings of our black citizens and the tension is felt by all. Some of the businesses are boarded up to prevent loss of property. While many peacefully protest there are others who take advantage of the situation and break, trash, and steal.

Boarded up windows provide a place to share words of hope!
I found this painted on a parking lot space

And then there is CoVid 19.

Face Covers Required

As of this writing, more than 200,000 people have died here in the United States. It has been 7 months since the Corona Virus has taken a firm grasp in our state. I heard rumors of a virus in mid-February, but it was March before changes started to happen. Now in downtown Sacramento, there is evidence of this pandemic.

Reminders everywhere. Masks help reduce the spread of CoVid

To mask, or not to mask.

Sorry sight. I’m sure there was a trash can close by.

To go along as if there is nothing to be concerned about, or to ask the question, “Is it worth the risk?” For the most part, my husband and I have chosen to be cautious. David is a diabetic who smokes. I have a post nasal drip that will probably clear out anyplace I venture out to. Most of our shopping has been online. Many of my activities have been delegated to Zoom Meetings. Even Charlie is being trained on Zoom. When I do go out I am masked. Actually, since the arrival of my puppy, there has always been someone here with him. We go to no restaurants, travel no further than a couple of miles, and if I am out it is an outdoor photoshoot with few people around me. So all the family comings and goings started to play on our minds. This did not sit well with all. No one likes this intrusion into our way of life. But I want all to be safe rather than sorry.

This past weekend I ventured downtown to meet up with my CTD friends. Since 2017, Sacramento has invited artists to participate in “Wide Open Walls”. Murals are painted on the walls around the city. The event usually runs about 10 days, but with the smoke, heatwave, and CoVid 19, and political tensions have extended the event. This time I did not capture any artists hard at work.

There is much evidence that this country wants to unite for the good of all its citizens!
Black Lives Matter. We stand with you.

For many years I taught 4th grade with the social studies curriculum being California. This mural reminded me of the first chapter where I taught the four regions – Coast, Desert, Valley and Mountain regions.

California diversity. Four distinct regions of the state.
PEACE – Amazing artwork.
Making the alleys soar!
Painting on such a large canvas. So peaceful looking.

Sometimes parts of murals interest me.

This mural fascinated me the most.

Along with the murals I enjoyed walking the streets of downtown Sacramento. This year I missed the “Chalk It Up” event. To create a safe environment this event was spread out . I came across this one, and wanted to show myself enjoying the artwork. Plenty of electric scooters just left on the sidewalk. Bumper sticker that says it all! Vintage retail sign l liked.

This mural prompted me to look up Betty Inada

What is the new normal?

Calm. What is it? Pushing and pulling is what I am feeling. Time to think, but my mind seems to wander. So much to comprehend. So much to try to explain to friends.

Issues arise when there is no one at the top delivering reliable information. Truth, whose truth, what numbers do I believe? I understand this is a “novel” virus. Much is being learned as CoVid 19 affects the population. I am listening to the CDC advice (Stay home, Stay masked, Stay 6 feet apart!). I am a face toucher so the mask/bandana reminds me to be careful about what I touch. I am not comfortable around people, and have pretty much stayed in lockdown mode. If I must go out, it is for a short time.

Sacramento/Fair Oaks is currently at Stage 2 reopening rules. Stores have opened up for business as usual. I have been in two stores, but I still feel uncomfortable shopping, and will probably continue to rely on my computer for most orders. Besides, I really don’t miss shopping malls. I have pandemic proof hair and I am not hiding my silver curls. I’m letting my hair grow, for now. One day I will be ready to go to Total Beauty Experience and see Yvonne. Until then, I wait.

Me and my Charlie. Loose curls on both of us. (Photo by my friend)

Since things are relaxing here in California I feel more defensive about my position to remain at home. Or stay masked. Or stay 6 feet from people. The longer this goes on the less sure I am about what is best. Sometimes I feel a bit of pressure to get out, but then I gravitate to stay home, and feel safer. My grandchildren live 5 minutes away. They have, for the most part, been staying away from crowds. Last week we had our first heat wave (100+ degrees) and I visited my grandchildren while they played in their pool. I thought I would give my daughter a break. Being home with 4 kiddos eight and under is not an easy task. At the same time, keeping 6 feet apart, and masked is not really possible either.

Even camera distance apart is hard with a two year old

On my birthday, David, Charlie, and I went over for some delicious birthday cake from Pastry Heaven.

Wouldn’t you like to have a taste of this?

This also was Charlie’s first outing. Not too excited to see Max, my daughter’s older Pomeranian. The two dogs probably will not end up being best buddies. There is a big age difference, and they pretty much ended up ignoring each other. Charlie was delighted to play with the boys and socialization is moving ahead.

CoVid has not been handled efficiently. All the blustery talk did nothing to prevent this country from ranking number 1 in deaths. The pandemic has called into question unfair practices that have existed forever. Health care is not equal, and with growing unemployment, many are losing their health benefits. Poor people with no savings, homelessness, price gouging, everyone staying inside, and loss of family support led to major frustrations. Especially affected were those in nursing homes, veteran homes, and prisons. I can’t tell you how many of the Holocaust survivors have died from CoVid in such a short amount of time. People who didn’t feel the impact of family deaths have begun to protest and push back on the restrictions to their “freedoms”. Being a child of two Holocaust survivors, I can’t help thinking about their lives under the Nazis, and how long they did without. Protesting, disregarding CDC advice, and celebrating Memorial Day with extensive partying, turned this pandemic into a political event. I understand that for some it is important to get back to work, but many people are just over living responsibly. To mask, or not to mask. Rights and freedom to live. This is after all an election year. November 3rd can’t come fast enough.

As I write this entry, my country is protesting the death of George Floyd. A black man who was murdered in daylight, on camera, by 4 police officers. First the pandemic, and now the mistreatment of our black men and women, has finally pushed people to stand up to this and request justice. This country has now seen over 2 weeks of protests. On the positive side, I see a variety of people – black, white, old, and young committed to making a change. So along with the protest, the hard work begins. Many are hopeful that this may be a turning point in race relations. I can only hope. All I can say is be sure to VOTE in November!!!

Another Milestone

Last week my granddaughter Alyssa graduated from Casa Robles High School. As a senior she really looked forward to all the traditions. With the end of the third semester all graduation requirements had been completed, and then all schools in the state of California closed for the rest of the year. CoVid 19 put a halt to all plans. There would be no prom, no parties, no walk across the stage to accept her diploma.

Mother and daughter
Here is Alyssa at six with her mother graduating American River College

Alyssa visited her family in Orangevale. She has been staying in Turlock for the past couple of weeks since this pandemic stay at home orders. After picking up her cap & gown and diploma holder we made arrangements to photograph her at a park. Armed with my Fuji xt2 and 80mm f2.8, and Alyssa’s bright smile the photo shoot went smoothly. Many good images to choose from in the short time we had together. Of course the photographs engendered a typical self-critical reaction from the one being photographed. Lucas came along and found the nature trail full of insects to capture in his insect habitat.

Alyssa walks across the bridge at a park across from Casa Robles High School
Brother Lucas following his sister on the nature trail

The parents of Casa decided that some show of celebration was needed. Graduating seniors woke up to Congratulation signs planted on their front lawns. Then a flyer sent to families told of a parade being organized at the local mall that is now shut. So on Friday night my husband, myself, and Charlie parked in the shade and waited. What followed was a fun celebration for the seniors. Cars decorated by the seniors paraded around the perimeter. A DJ announced each name alphabetically. Online the DJ stopped most cars and asked the senior’s name, favorite teacher, and time to give a shout out. Unfortunately, this was not done for every senior who wanted it. It seemed that a good time was had by all.

While Alyssa was selecting her favorite images I spoke to her about her future plans. After spending many months away from her family I impressed upon her the benefits of accepting her mother’s offer to live home until her plans take shape. I am sad that she does not see this as a positive step for her future. I can only hope that she makes good decisions. As I am writing this post I had a chance to look over all 1400 digital images I have taken of Alyssa over the years. Wow. So much time I spent capturing her growth from baby to high school graduate. She has all the future in front of her! Good Luck!

Class of 2020 attitude!