Laura Bruno Lilly

The road ends, but the journey continues...

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Pandemic Potpourri #3

I’m finding it very hard to focus on much of anything these days. How about you guys? I really think it’s a COVID-19 shelter-in-place/isolation induced thing – but that irritation is much better than the actual COVID-19 infection itself, so I’m not complaining really. Just noting it.
~~

I’m not a fast food type of gal, but the other day I craved, just craved, a Burger King Whopper and McDonald’s French fries. Hubby obliged by sitting in each of the two respective drive-throughs to indulge my primal need.
Yeah, he’s a keeper.
In keeping with the French Fry Theme, here is a snappy, happy Celtic inspired piece, Danse des Duex Pommes Frites (aka The French Fry Song) by Steve Baughman and performed in duo with Robin Bullock*.
Musical French fries have zero calories, guys, so enjoy!

~~

Speaking of calories.
About 8 weeks into sheltering-in-place, I glimpsed my reflection in the sliding doors entering the grocery store and my Lord! Forget about that masked (wo)man staring back – is that huge-hipped, thunder-thighed lady, me?

Hubby's favorite 'Bridge' Path - sometimes he comes along for the walk & fresh air, too

Hubby’s favorite ‘Bridge’ Path – sometimes he comes along for the walk & fresh air, too


After the Coronavirus took away my meager 45-minute daily workouts on the elliptical at the Y, my regular walks around the block and on the McLeod Path across town took on a more immediate level of importance.
I even do a few planks on my Yoga Mat and shake the house down doing jumping jacks in the kitchen…but admittedly, the Coronavirus has limited my exercise options.
Whilst (I love that British term!) taking a walk around the McLeod Path a few weeks ago, I noticed a pair of ladies beside their respective cars, a proper social distance of 6 feet, jumping rope. These ladies were ladies of a certain build that made me think: if they can do this, I can do this!
 
Mushroom at McLeod Parking lot

Look what greeted me at the nearly empty McLeod Path parking lot last week!


Thus began my search for the perfect jump rope and determination to add jumping rope into my anemic Pandemic exercise routine.
Last week, with my new rope in hand, and a 5 minute ‘Beginner’s Guide to Jumping Rope’ video on my phone, I drove back to the McLeod Path parking lot intent on re-learning how to jump rope.
Yep. Re-learn. Turns out, that ‘double hop’ us kiddos did back in the day is detrimental to progress in the realm of jumping rope for fitness.
For the next 20 minutes, I judiciously went through the preliminary exercises devised to help in redirecting old habits. When I felt ready, I set forth and did a full continuous three minutes of jumping rope.
Three excruciating minutes of jumping rope the ‘correct’ way.
The guy in the video even concedes it’s a biggie challenge to begin again on the jump rope exercise scene. He suggests beginners hold back enthusiasm in advancement by restricting jump rope sessions to 3 per week for the first 4 weeks.
Shin splints, muscle aches and cramps, coordination misfire whips against the body by the jump rope itself – all can add up, hurt and hence discourage continuing on in one’s advancement of jumping rope as a total body workout. Being an older adult, I heeded hubby’s suggestion to ease into my new jump rope routine to 2Xs a week for 4 weeks.
Tuesday this week was my second date with that ole jump rope. In that same parking lot.
The mushroom was long gone, but I managed to do two 5-minute spurts of continuous jumping rope! 10 minutes total. I never in a million years thought I could ‘advance’ so quickly on something so taxing and demanding.
I am not the athletic type.
I was always the last chosen on sports teams back during School Gym days. But my enthusiasm and persistence have always been my redemption. I love hiking, skiing, biking, swimming, diving, volleyball, softball – I’ve just not ever been good enough for ‘teams’!
And now: Here I am, beginning my new COVID-19 jump rope exercise regimen. And succeeding!
Next appointment with my rope? Saturday. Can’t wait.

~~

 *Hubby and I had a date planned to take in Robin’s show at The Isis Music Hall & Kitchen in Asheville, NC on March 29th, 2020 at 6pm. Guess what happened instead? As I re-looked up the concert venue today, lo & behold to my delight and surprise there is a re-scheduled concert set for September 17, 2020 – we’ll see if we can keep that date!

Memorial Day 2020

Please Honor Memorial Day

Find the cost of freedom,
Buried in the ground.
Mother earth will swallow you,
Lay your body down.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

Memorial

I humbly believe this tribute does not take away from the honoring of our Veterans – My Dad, 2 Uncles and Father-in-Law served in WWII, hubby & 2 cousins during Vietnam and various nephews served during and since the Gulf War. My Sister-in-Law, 5 cousins and a niece are essential health-care providers during this war against COVID-19 – thankfully our family has not suffered any casualties.

NYT-front-page-05-24-20-COVID-19

Dance of Joy: Dr. Solorio

Dance of Joy – Our Michelle is now officially Dr. Solorio –

Hubby and I are crazy proud as are all her sibs along with the rest of the Family and of course her Husband (our favorite Son-In-Law)

In the celebratory spirit of myriad Ivoirian individuals who took her into their hearts and homes…this video (used with permission) of a 1st Communion Celebration she attended (notice the 1st communicant in the center of the circle) represents our own inner – Dance of Joy.

LANGUAGE WARS? LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION AND THE IVORIAN POST-CONFLICT TRANSITION
By
Michelle Lilly Solorio

A DISSERTATION

Submitted to
Michigan State University

in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree of

 Education Policy – Doctor of Philosophy

2020
~~~

Dedicated to the parents and teachers in Côte d’Ivoire who shared their lives with me.

Vous m’avez accueilli dans votre vie, donné de votre temps et partagé votre nourriture. Vous m’avez montré le vrai sens de “akwaaba.” Je vous chérirai toujours.

 This dissertation is also dedicated to my husband, David.

Thank you for supporting me through this long endeavor. You are my partner in everything. I love you.
~~~

ToDoTuesdayEight

ToDo for the weeks following March 24th:

  • Work on those darn face masks done
  • Finish Final edit of Michelle’s PhD thesis done
  • Work on Final score edits for Goat Suite (Saga) in progress
  • Sew up scraps have on hand neutral jellyroll fabric experiment ones done
  • Figure out what to do with various scrap ‘blocks’ medium one done
  • Continue to help Flatten the Curve in progress

~~~

stay home save livesI’ll start with the most important of these ToDos, albeit the hardest – Continue to help Flatten the Curve

It seems our diligent work in adhering to this small effort is reaping a discernible curve-flattening reward. Let’s not quit yet, let’s build upon this hard-won glimmer of hope and continue to soldier on in the best way we can: Stay Home. Save Lives.

~~~

homemade face masks COVID-19

No, these are not bikinis!


As for those darn masks. I finally got our three each for both hubby and myself done and done. I admit to not rising to the task of stitching up piles of homemade masks for those on the front lines…I just didn’t have it in me. I admit it. Slacker. Yes, you can hurtle that shaming label at me – but I applaud those who took to their sewing machines cleaning out fabric scrap piles in the name of solidarity for health care workers, family and friends. My own daughter who is in the throes of finalizing her PhD thesis and prepping for its defense made a total of 15 in addition to those she sewed up for herself, hubby and a few friends. I am so impressed. Heck, I’m proud! The darn things really aren’t all that easy to whip up even for experienced sewers – and they’re just too fiddly frustrating for me to do beyond the obligatory need-to-provide for us ones.
Do I feel better for this confession, maybe, but mostly I might have helped someone else out there with ‘experience in sewing’ who felt the same way.
Speaking of middle daughter, Michelle. She’s set to present and defend her PhD thesis this coming Monday. It’s been a long time coming and I’m honored to have been asked to assist her by editing various incarnations of that manuscript over these past few years…more boasting on her in another post!
Floating block experiment - upper lefthand corner, surrounded by pieced scraps

Floating block experiment – upper lefthand corner, surrounded by pieced scraps & circle cut from medium block I didn’t like


About a year ago I tried my hand at ‘floating’ a block using only selected fabrics from a purchased jellyroll fabric pack. The result of that is the large block in the upper lefthand corner of the photo at left. I plan to do some free motion machine quilting in the off-white Kona cloth negative space once I feel confident enough to do so. In the meantime, I pieced together the scraps as shown alongside the large block. I had a medium sized block that I didn’t like so decided to cut it up into a circle (shown). It will form the basis of a 3D fiber experiment that is rolling around in my mind.
Original medium size block I didn't like

Original medium block I didn’t like

That’s it for now. Thanks to Roseanne for sponsoring this linky party.

’Home

My Target Treats are out of Quarantine

The official closing down of ‘non-essential’ services and stores is in a confused, motley disarray here in South Carolina. There is no real rhyme or reason as to what is considered essential or non-essential – case in point, until last week hair salons were still open and truth be told, hubby has seen several still open while doing drives to check on parking lot volume of customers in area grocery stores. Kind of a no-brainer that maintaining social distancing and performing haircuts with gloves and mask for both hairstylist and customer isn’t an easy way to stay open and provide services, much less provide a safe environment. But hey, what do I know?
And let’s not even get into the phrasing of our governor’s official COVID-19 orders* submitted just last week: “Stay at Home. Stay at Work.” When asked by a reporter what that meant exactly, he replied that if you’re at home, stay there and if you’re at work, stay there…say what? Oh and in continuing to clarify, he added that whatever was open before is open now and whatever was closed before is closed now.
That, dear readers, is Governor McMaster’s version of a ‘shelter-in-place’ order while not exactly being a ‘shelter-in-place’ order. Welcome to South Carolina…
Anyway, back in March, certain retail & grocery stores began announcing special COVID-19 shopping hours for Seniors and people with special health needs. We’ve incorporated our immediate buying around those times as much as possible with extra trips to the grocery store as needed during low volume times.
In addition, I now make a point of visiting our local Target Store during their special Senior Hours: Wednesday from 8AM-9AM each week because

  1. The specially designated hours are user-friendly
  2. The brick & mortar store offers up a sense of leisurely ‘window’ shopping for ‘non-essential’ items while in a relatively protected environment

In other words, I go there for a fun outing during this period of self-isolating while showing off my stylish homemade face mask at one and the same time. 🙂
This week, I scored a pair of Sketchers that were sorely needed. I tend to use up my running/athletic shoes until they no longer can stand up to my demanding version of wear and tear, and my current pair were way beyond ‘making do’.
As I passed by the shoe section, I noticed boxes of women’s athletic shoes scattered along a sparsely filled shelf. With nary a try-on bench in sight (they have been removed in an effort to minimize virus transmission), I plopped down on the floor. Surrounded by shoes of varying sizes and styles I promptly focused on the matter at hand.
Happy with my score, I then ventured over to the book/media section and browsed. Amazon states on their website an inability to guarantee a timely, if ever, delivery of a non-essential item such as a book to read during isolation, so I decided to find something of interest. Oh, I know, there are lots of offerings via the library’s on-line books, but my eyes are getting way overloaded with screen viewing these days and besides, I really do relish the feel of a book in my hands while hunkering down in isolation.
Lucky me, I scored another find – a book I’ve been wanting to read, but never got around to until now (you guys all know the drill on that!) – Becoming by Michelle Obama. At 30% off cover price, I also got a small discount for the immediate gratification of bringing my copy home same day of purchase!
When I returned home from my magnificent morning outing, I placed both purchases in the quarantine corner of the kitchen floor to await release in a few days.
Today both items were released from quarantine. I laced up those new Sketchers for my daily walk this morning and Ms Obama’s book is ready to be opened this evening for my before-bedtime reading.
Yes, it’s the small things in life during coronavirus that help us to make it through each day.
* A 12 page document that lists the details of the actual order starting on page 6

Pandemic Potpourri #2

“I don’t know about you guys, but I could do with getting lost in trivialities. Making small talk with strangers, while waiting for my coffee to be made, about inconsequential things. Nothing of importance that mean everything.”       Andy Murray

As mentioned in Pandemic Potpourri #1 herein I will blog, and commenters can comment, without feeling guilty about seeming to disregard the seriousness of our present COVID-19 Reality.
In other words, this space is reserved for escaping Reality – however that translates. Anything goes, so here goes!

Paul Hollywood’s authentic Hot Cross Buns

Paul Hollywood's Hot Cross Buns

Paul Hollywood’s Hot Cross Buns


I saw a Great British Baking Show ‘masterclass’ rerun on PBS last week where this was a featured bake. It inspired me to bake up a batch for this coming Easter Morning. Seemed reasonable as I always have Bread Flour in stock. I use it for my own special breads as opposed to regular All-Purpose flour and know there truly is a difference in baking results for specific items. When I checked on my personal supply, turned out our cupboard was bare, so I had to go out into the cold cruel COVID world of grocery stores in search of a 5 lb bag. Guess what? The grocery shelves are also bare of any type of flour whatsoever.  So I’m debating whether or not to try this new-to-me recipe with the regular flour I have on hand…still undecided – what do you think?
Oh and BTW: Paul’s from Liverpool, folks! yeah, yeah, yeah

~~~

In the previous Pandemic Potpourri Post I featured a photo of a colorful array of newly planted Gerbera Daisies on our front porch. That very Friday evening I jotted this down – sans margarita!

On the front porch – gorgeous afternoon – the cool/dry lull before the ‘storm’ of a normal SC Spring/Summer filled with heat and humidity.

What is adding to my delight are the heavenly scents of BBQ* chicken wafting in & out with irregular intervals that tease and entice. Looking over to my right – a few feet away from my – ahem – feet are the bring-a-smile-to-my-heart newly planted Gerbera Daisies. They’re settling nicely into a fav Italian Lemon Tree clay pot with the tree stumps collected from our Family mountain property in CO and Breck** behind and beside this bit of joyful color.

TWL’s (my hubby) BBQ is filling the neighborhood with smells of soulful food. Our appetites continue to need quenching regardless of this virus that is eating away life as we know it – scattering collaterally damaged humans as its tally & proof of power over us as vulnerable.

Because Green Gunk*** Allergy Season is in full swing, I am struggling with fatigue and other allergy related malaise in the afternoon especially. A price I willingly pay for enjoying these few otherwise perfect days outside before the SC Spring/Summer (seasonal weather) ‘Storm’ and expansion of the COVID-19 ‘Storm’ continues to ravage this Earth and its peoples.

In conclusion, please enjoy “The Sound of a Pandemic” parody by Shirley Serban – shared and brought to my attention by bloggers Jennie and By Hook Or By Hook:

 *Apologies to our Southern neighbors, but we call it BBQ, not ‘grilling’.
**Breck = local term for Breckenridge, CO
***Green Gunk Season = my term for the SC seasonal thick coating of pine pollen that engulfs and smothers anything outside from mid-March to around mid-April

Pandemic Potpourri #1

“I don’t know about you guys, but I could do with getting lost in trivialities. Making small talk with strangers, while waiting for my coffee to be made, about inconsequential things. Nothing of importance that mean everything.”   Andy Murray

Thanks for the inspiration, Andy and welcome all to the first of my new series Pandemic Potpourri. Herein I will blog, and commenters can comment, without feeling guilty about seeming to disregard the seriousness of our present COVID-19 Reality.
In other words, this space is reserved for escaping Reality – however that translates. Anything goes, so here goes!

Sign newly planted in the grass across the street from where we live:

Margarita's Curbside SignI’ve been dying to do some baking lately – and took advantage of a straggling cooler day to bake up a batch of my “Laura’s Lovelies” *.  I really wanted to share these with the neighbors, but honestly, if anyone gave us something homemade, would I trust their level of COVID Cleanliness enough to eat them? So, hubby and I ate some of them ate too many of them before I froze the remainder of the batch in packets of 3…guess who gets the second helping?

Cookies and Clorox

Cookies and CloroxOn our side of the street (across from that Margarita Curbside Sign) there is a fresh produce stand that also sells Christmas trees starting November 10th each year and then bedding plants starting the end of March. Their new stock of Gerbera Daisies caught my eye and I just couldn’t resist…

Gerbera Daisies newly planted on our front porch:Gerbera Daisies on Front Porch

Wishing all of us a great weekend!

 *Thusly named by Amy-next-door, during a ‘circle’ block party in the old neighborhood ~ Lafayette, CO circa 1988

Public Service Shout Out – Disc Makers Face Shields

Like most of you, I’ve been getting cookie cutter ‘We’re here for you’ emails from retail stores…some sincere, some not so much. This one is not that. This one is a ‘What we’re doing to make a difference’ with a twist. Please read and/or watch what I found in my email box this morning from a ‘store’ most every working musician is familiar with…and please pass it on to any HealthCare Worker/Hospital Administrator you may know. (And yeah, I kept in the Disc Makers advert of their normal product at the end..a small thing I can do to support their efforts IMHO)

Hello, Laura.

Warning, this Saturday email is longer than usual… or you can just watch the video above from our local NBC affiliate. (However, it’s Saturday, and you’re probably sitting inside being socially distanced—or even quarantined—so go ahead, take the time to read on.)
A little less than two weeks ago, when it became indisputable that the COVID-19 pandemic was going to sweep the nation, I was worried about the future of Disc Makers. Our orders had decreased by 50% literally overnight. We had to cut back our factory hours by 20%, and our salaried staff had agreed to a 20% pay reduction (and significantly more for execs) to make sure we didn’t run out of cash. After almost 74 years in business, I couldn’t believe a virus was the biggest threat this business had ever faced. Could this really be happening in 2020?
Then last Wednesday night, after watching the news and seeing the desperate need for protective equipment for frontline health workers, my wife asks me, “Tony, can’t you guys make some of this?” And that was exactly the spark we needed.
By Friday, our amazing team of manufacturing engineers and operations pros had come up with a prototype for a protective face shield. They ordered supplies, worked through last weekend to finalize the specs, set up workstations Monday, and started manufacturing this past Tuesday! The factory staff who print your inserts, replicate discs, and package your products—as well as office staff from every department—are now soldiers in the battle to literally save lives.
Perhaps best of all, instead of worrying how we’re going to survive on half our CD volume, I’m worrying if we have enough staff to fill the demand. Every single person at Disc Makers is pumped to be helping fight this coronavirus, and without fail, they are prepared to help build face shields. It’s one of the proudest moments of my life. I’m so impressed with how my team turned on a dime, made this happen in 3 working days, and how everyone enthusiastically jumped in to help battle this global crisis. It shows that American ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and fighting spirit are second to none.
As a country, we’re not out of the woods yet. There’s more social distancing, more quarantining, more medical emergencies ahead. But it’s heartening to see so many companies rushing to help defeat this crisis—one of them being Disc Makers.
If you have loved ones working in the medical, emergency, janitorial, food service, or any other field without adequate supplies, we’re making face shields as fast as we humanly can and are working on narrow margins to make them affordable. They can be ordered at www.discmakers.com/faceshields. Hospitals that need large quantities can email faceshields@discmakers.com. Or just forward this email to them.
Let’s go win this war!
Tony van Veen
CEO, Disc Makers
tvanveen@discmakers.com
P.S. Our factory is still open and producing CDs, vinyl, and T-shirts. Demand may be down right now because no concerts are happening (though, online sales…), but rest assured that, when you need product now or in a few weeks, we’re here for you.
P.P.S. We are doing all we can to maintain a safe, clean environment at Disc Makers. The only way that potentially impacts you is that we are not accepting any client visits or in-person product pick-ups at our Pennsauken, NJ factory until further notice. You can order online, and we’ll be happy to ship your products right to your door.

ToDoTuesdaySeven

ToDo for the weeks following February 25th:

  • Sew up scraps have on hand African Fabric ones done
  • Decide thread/quilting for Michelle’s African Fabric wall-handing done
  • Work on Final Scores for Goat Suite (Saga) in progress
  • Help Flatten the Curve in progress

~~~

I’ll start with the most important of these ToDos – Help Flatten the Curve

stay home save livesSupport our Health Care Professionals.
This admittedly hard ToDo is one small effort that makes a huge difference.

It’s heartening to know hunkering down in my tiny home helps in the Grand Scheme of minimizing the spread of COVID-19 – as well as results in rewarding project progress.*

Sample African Fabric quilt sandwich

Sample quilt sandwich ready for experimentation!


Since my last ToDoTuesday, I squared up the scrappy blocks (before photo here) I stitched together from the bits of Michelle’s lime green African Fabric wall hanging. I made one up as a sample quilt sandwich for use in exploring different threads & quilting techniques on the wall hanging and another to share with a friend.
Roseanne's scrap quilt block

A scrappy surprise for my friend (you know who you are!)


Interesting to note that the gold metallic thread shown above and a variegated lime/gold/red metallic thread (not shown) both blended too well into the piece resulting in a blah and dull machine blanket stitch finish around the actual African Fabric blocks. Desiring to use something from my thread basket stash, my eye gravitated towards a spool of copper metallic (not shown) and voilà! Perfetto! (Yep, intentional use of two different language exclamatory words)
As stated before – My creativity trinity is as follows: fiber artMUSICwriting. Each is intertwined with the other, offering needful respites between projects which in turn aid in the completion of various Works-In-Progress as new perspectives appear from such respites. Ultimately, it’s all about the music but tracking fiber art Works-In-Progress is lots easier to communicate in such a setting as this – hence the linky-party connection with my friend, Roseanne.
’HomeThat said, I’ve re-started in earnest the Final Edit process of my Goat Suite (Saga) scores. The first movement is completed in two forms: one for insertion into the total three movement GSS score and the other as an individual first movement score with extracted parts.

~~

ToDo for the weeks following March 24th:

  • Sew up scraps have on hand
  • Work on Michelle’s African Fabric wall-hanging
  • Work on Final scores for Goat Suite (Saga)
  • Other

*While social distancing, sheltering in place, and lock-down mode are difficult in and of themselves, please know I fully understand I’m far removed from the huge demands many of you are facing right now, such as parenting children in such an environment (much less ‘expecting’ for that matter and the anxiety associated with the logistics of labor & delivery in these times), or care giving elderly relatives or end-of-life issues or fill-in-the-blank life challenges…I wish I could offer you practical respite. Meanwhile, I pray for mercy & grace to be upon us all.

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