Monday, July 27, 2020

De-stressing During COVID-19

Mountain Island Lake
There is no better way I know to take my mind off of the pandemic then to get out on Mountain Island Lake with my kayak. The only sounds are wildlife and the swish of the water as I paddle. The experience is always enhanced, though, when I have the company of some of my new friends and neighbors here at Imagery. We often marvel at how blessed we are to have this paradise literally in our backyards.

Sunday morning six of us met at 6:30 in the morning to catch the sunrise on the lake. We paddled slowly, exploring all the glory mother nature revealed to us as the day woke up. It was a glorious, spiritual experience, and one that I hope I never take for granted.

paddlers of Imagery

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Still Safer at Home

Today is the 58th day of Safer at Home, Phase Two of North Carolina Governor Cooper's restrictions to help fight COVID-19 (and the 115th day of overall restrictions here.) On Tuesday, the governor extended Phase Two (which was supposed to expire July 17th) until at least August 7th. Many schools in our area are slated to reopen on August 17th, with most using a hybrid of in-person and online learning. It is somewhat ironic that parents cannot go work out in a gym, yet are expected to make their children ride buses and go to school.

The statistics are still very scary. In North Carolina we have 95,700 confirmed cases and 1,638 deaths. The United States overall has 3.68 million confirmed cases and 141,000 deaths, with the worldwide statistics being 14 million cases and 601,000 deaths. 

Cases among those aged 18-49 have dramatically increased, and now represent the most amount of cases in North Carolina. The governor put into place a mandatory mask order on June 26th hoping to curtail spread of the disease. The order requires people to wear a mask when inside or outside in public places when they cannot maintain a distance of 6 feet from one another. Children under 11 are exempted. (But they will be required to wear a mask in school - go figure.) 

My observation is that people are better about wearing masks since the mandate came out, but there are many folks who don't believe that masks make a difference. It is unfortunate that early on the CDC stated that only those who are sick should wear a mask. The non-believers cling to that, despite new studies that show wearing a mask protects the wearers as well as others around them. In countries where masks have been mandatory from the beginning of the pandemic, their case numbers have dropped dramatically. 

Then there's the segment of the population that claims their civil rights are being violated by requiring masks. When a business says no shoes, no shirt, no service, they comply with that. When told they can't smoke in certain areas, they comply with that. When told to wear a seat belt, most comply with that. So what is the big deal to don a mask? It is so selfish of them to buck this when lives are at stake. Of course we have no leadership at the top of this country to serve as an example of wearing masks in public.

Better Fit Face Mask
I believe masks will be part of our future for quite awhile. I found another pattern that calls itself the Better Fit Face Mask. You can find the link for it here. I tried making one for me using shoelaces and pony beads for the ear pieces, and a coffee bag tie for the inside nose piece. It fits so much better than any of my other mask, and was fairly easy to make. I made Jim one as well, and then made a second for myself. That way I don't have to wash masks as often. I ordered additional coffee bag ties online, and now need to locate more shoe strings. I think my family and friends will need additional masks as well.

It's hot, humid and I have to stay at home. Might as well be making masks, right?

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Wrapping up 68 Years of Married Life

Following the funeral of my mother-in-law, we turned our attention to her house and its contents. We were lucky to find in Charles City a company that not only handles the sale of houses but their contents as well. They will remove every last item from the home, and can provide us with a cleaning service as well. I asked the guy where he was when we were emptying out our home in St. Louis last year? What a godsend! We all can simply take whatever mementos we want and leave the rest for them. As we are over 17 hours away and don't want to risk additional Covid Cooties by making the trek again, this is such a great solution for everyone.

After two weeks up north, we began our way home on July 7th, stopping in Lexington for the night. Our son, daughter-in-law and her family were staying in Asheville for the week. We had been invited way before the pandemic came along to join them at their AirBNB in the mountains outside of Asheville. We debated whether or not to stop. We are definitely a higher risk because of the 7 states we have traveled through for the funeral. But everyone there still wanted us to come, so the next day we made our way to Asheville. 

sunset from the deck
We spent two days and nights with the 6 of them, and I have to say it was such a welcome relief to talk about something besides our overwhelming grief at losing both mom and dad within a short time period. We visited downtown Asheville, a local brewery, spent time on the deck overlooking the mountain range, and played games. It was a perfect way to destress.

We arrived home on Friday after a two hour drive from Asheville. How nice to end things with a short amount of time in the car! After 2,800 miles on the road, it was so good to be home. I hit the grocery store early Saturday morning, and now we are self-quarantining on the off-chance that we picked up the virus on our journey.

kayaking on Mountain Island Lake

Sunday morning we took our kayaks out early to beat the heat and the boat traffic. It was a nice, relaxing way to ease back into our Mountain Island Lake lives. There is nothing like home, sweet home.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Funeral for (More Than) a Friend

Holiday Inn Express
We are back home from laying my mother-in-law to rest. We broke up the 17 hour drive on the way up June 24th by spending the night in Urbana, IL. While it was troubling to use the highway rest stops and gas stations due to COVID and the laissez-faire attitude many seem to have, we felt quite comfortable at the Holiday Inn Express. Masks and social distancing were in place, and the room was spotless. While they cannot do their included hot breakfast at the moment, they had "Grab and Go" bags available to take back to our room. The contents of the bag were skimpy, but at least we had something to start our morning.

Before we reached Charles City we stopped in Nashua, IA at mom's favorite ice cream shop, Dairy Treat. We each got a cone in honor of mom.

Dairy Treat
Walking into my father and mother-in-law's house for the first time since their deaths was really hard. We always went in through the side door, which is adjacent to the family room. They spent most of their time in that room, so we were always greeted by them sitting in their chairs. For the first time in the 34 years they have lived in this particular house, no one was there to welcome us. It was the first of many sad moments for us.

On Friday our kids flew in from their respective parts of the country. They stayed at a local hotel, which gave us plenty of social distancing in the house. Saturday was the memorial service at the funeral home. We purposefully limited the number of people to immediate family, with the exception of a dear, long-time neighbor. We were able to space out nicely in the room. John from the funeral home sang a few songs (he belongs to their church and is in the choir), and Sister Diana from the church did the readings. She knew Jerry and Lorraine well, so the service was very personalized. Our daughter read a poem that Lorraine had written years ago. It was beautiful, and I knew that I would not be able to get through it should I try. Lorraine was a prolific letter writer, but I had no idea she had poetry in her arsenal as well.

Don't cry for me
I'm not alone
the angels came and took me home
Hello Mother
Hello Dad
They're the best friends I ever had
There's John, Bernie and Joe
Tell me where I'm supposed to go
Then a loud voice called out and said
My dear child don't be late,
did you forget we had this date
Then him and I walked hand in hand
to the garden gate
Goodbye, family
Goodbye, friends
This is the beginning and not the end.
                              ~Lorraine Wolterman

Memorial Service

After the service we went to a restaurant along the river and had a late lunch. We were able to sit outside at two separate tables, though no one who worked there was wearing a mask. It is so disheartening. That evening we went to our niece and nephew's farm for dinner and to watch their fireworks. It was a nice way to wind down following the stress of the day.

On Sunday we spent the day going through the house, allowing family members the opportunity to pick a few things they would like to have as mementos of mom and dad. Monday was the graveside memorial service in Fairfax, MN which is about 3 hours north of Charles City. We drove through a horrific rainstorm on the way there, and I was afraid the service would be canceled. But mom must have pulled some strings up above, because it cleared up enough to get things done. Some cousins put together a small luncheon in the local park, which was very nice of them to do.

graveside memorial

Andy and Megan left from the park to go to the airport to fly home. Jim, Katie and I drove to Waconia, MN where we spent the night with Jim's cousin and her husband. Katie flew home the next morning, and Jim and I were able to get a quick visit in with friends in Minneapolis before driving back to Charles City. Much more work awaited us there.