As mentioned before: 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/managing Reality – however that translates. Anything goes, so here goes!
It’s been awhile since I wrote one of these posts.
t’s been awhile since I’ve posted, period.
I’m tired. I’m worn out. I’m wasted. Yet, excited to be alive.
Perhaps the title of this should be renamed, Pandemic Paradox #1.
Three weeks ago, while standing in line for over an hour to get my first vax jab, my line-mates and I rejoiced that we ‘got this far’ through the Pandemic. We even fist-bumped as we each left the 15 minute sit area afterwards. I felt like dancing a jig and until the first stirrings of side affects occurred, I did enjoy a bit of rambunctious behavior around the house!
Today marks the day I received my second vax jab. I was delightfully surprised to see one of my first jab line-mates round the corner into the 15 minute sit area after my second jab today. We ‘caught up’ and reconfirmed our thankfulness for having gotten ‘this far’ and not taking anything for granted.
It did my heart good.
As I left, we fist-bumped a final farewell…and took care to resist the urge to hug.
Mama’s got a new bag of beans! I opened a new bag of beans today. (for me that refers to the only beans worth opening – coffee) They are potent. As if I’d been imbibing decaf these past weeks rather than the real deal. The beans know. 🙂
While our latest Family photo (shown below) was taken during a not-so-recent ZOOM Thanksgiving in 2020 we continue to stay close.
I am hopeful that we will gather face-to-face during Family Dinner some day, some how in the months to come.
A little over two weeks ago, our neighbor across the street tested positive for you-know-what.
Most are renters on this block* – us in tiny houses, others in an apartment complex, one door down from both of our houses. There is much coming and going noted as there are no garages to hide the ins and outs of any vehicle activity.
Or lack thereof.
Hubby’s the one who realized these neighbors, who both work and have a family of two young children, had become strangely silent. Their two vehicles hadn’t twitched a tire for quite awhile.
We quickly conferred and decided a neighborly check-in was more than appropriate.
Kireem is a special education teacher – close contact with students is just part of the very nature of his job – hence the inevitable occurred. He was thus in quarantine with the rest of the household placed in self-isolation.
Speaking through our masks, a decent distance from their doorway, we offered our services as neighbors – asking Michele if we could do errands for them but especially offering our specialty of making meals. When asked if she wanted a meal that evening or the next, Michele piped up and said, “Yes, please, tonight!”
Aside from the seriousness of the reasons why I got to make a meal for them, it felt good to be ‘hands on’ helping out others in these isolating times. This is what I do best in such circumstances.
Next week when we delivered another meal, 4 year old Aminah was by her mom’s side. What a delight to see Aminah’s excitement over what was for dinner that evening!
That night’s menu?
Our family’s version of Cassoulet** (Cassoulet Italiene) with a loaf of Ma’s Hardcrust Bread, a Mandarin Orange salad, and plenty of freshly grated cheeses, Italian peppers, a stick of butter and other condiments to make it extra special. Oh and a huge loaf of my middle daughter’s Choco-nut Banana Bread for either dessert, breakfast the next morning or both.
And this story has a happy ending: as of a few days ago, I’m relieved to report that Kireem and family are out and about – completely COVID- free.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
*Our block is the dividing line between renters and homeowners – on the fringe of the ‘true’ neighborhood.
** Every family has their own versions of these basic, hearty dishes – cooked with (he)art and by (he)art!
We’re back from our jaunt up to Michigan to visit our middle daughter and son-in-law. In fact, we’ve been there and back since Tuesday*.
But wait – I bet you didn’t even know we were away from our COVID cage nest. Surprise!
After some deliberation, we decided it was a reasonable risk worth pursuing – traveling during a narrow window of reduced regional COVID-19 surges and seasonal transitions**.
We packed up the 2003 Jeep Liberty and drove the 14-16 hrs straight through as we always do because we just like to drive. And because we’re all needy about seeing and being with Family.
Armed with my easy-to-reach ‘COVID’ box filled with sanitizer, wipes, paper towels, half can of precious Lysol Spray, all of our cloth masks plus a 5 pack of disposable gloves and the usual travel food box, duffles, pillows, and blanket, we were set to go. In addition, I carefully packed my Bernina, assorted notions, fabric scraps & batting bits and neatly nested all of that in with everything else.
Say what? A sewing machine?
Often when we visit, I pack up Maddy to get a hands-on lesson at Elderly Instruments in Lansing with Neil Woodward but that wasn’t an option this time around due to COVID-19. Instead, I was on a sort of rescue mission – to repair as best as possible the three quilts kitty Jude chewed huge holes into since our last visit.
I’m happy to report that two of those quilts are 100% repaired. The third is ready for handstitching. Michelle is eager to begin repairs once I send her the appropriate fabric in sizes larger than I brought with me.
But of course, this trip was more than the sum of its seams…(groan).
We had a delayed in-house (pun intended) Family ‘hooding’ ceremony*** celebration, with Michelle gliding down the stairs of their 100 yr old home (there’s the punny connection) in full PhD regalia to the recorded traditional tune of ‘Pomp & Circumstance’.
We shared time around the Family table, spitting opinions (okay, too graphic for sure) between bites of fantastic food.
Took long walks, a Sunday Drive and spent plenty of time just ‘being’…
*We drove off Thursday September 24th and returned on Tuesday September 29th
**Timing is indeed everything as both factors have since dramatically shifted.
***Official University ceremony postponed, now cancelled due to COVID-19.
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
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!
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!
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.
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
Michelle Lilly Solorio
Michigan State University
in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree of
Education Policy – Doctor of Philosophy
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.
One of the things I do on a regular basis is search and discover ‘new’ (to me) music via a myriad of ways…all part of being a working musician – seeking, learning, creating.
A fine example of this occurred recently. As noted in a prior post, CNN’s short video in tribute to David Olney lead me to seek out more of his music. Which lead me to two other seemingly unrelated musicians/composers. I say ‘seemingly’ because I haven’t a clue as to how I arrived at their respective websites/youtube channels/streaming stations but some invisible google-ly algorithm guided me based upon something related to its way of calculating.
I know standard streaming sites routinely offer up an ‘if you like X, then try Y’ approach to new music seekers. However, my pokes and prods seem more organic, focused, personal – with a touch of human (mine) direction in the seeking. In addition, it is not limited to a particular platform.
Anyway, David Olney lead to Gregory Alan Isakov * who lead to Gavin Luke.*
And then I discovered an unexpected related theme – that of home.
David Olney was an itinerant wanderer, Gregory Alan Isakov is a transplanted Boulderite (my hometown) and Gavin Luke is a composer whose style draws deep home yearnings front and center.
Olney’s cover of Snowin’ on Raton** reminds me of all the traveling back and forth between hubby’s and my family homes…driving over Raton Pass in all types of weather from Colorado to New Mexico and back again from New Mexico to Colorado.
Specifically, two significant snow times come to mind.
1977 Cutlass Supreme w T-Tops, image from google
January 1979. Just a little over 6 months into our newlywed-ness, we packed all our belongings in the smallest sized U-Haul trailer and hitched it onto hubby’s 1977 Burnt Orange Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham (complete with T-tops and other extras). Moving in the winter was dicey but needful as hubby was set to resume studies at NMSU that semester requiring our move from Boulder, CO to Las Cruces, NM to begin our new married-student phase of life. He, as an older student to finish his CS degree on the last of his GI Bill (at that time, NMSU was on the cutting edge as one of the few Universities to offer a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science Program). And me, to forge a more direct relationship with my in-laws in hubby’s hometown while exploring our own new surroundings filled with endless possibilities. On the day of our move, we expertly navigated the increasingly dense low visibility January snow storm conditions. We even managed to slip (pun intended) into the climbing lane as we began the long steep grade over the pass…before CDOT closed I25 behind us. Yep, we were the last vehicle allowed on the road to mount up and over Raton Pass into NM. Suffice it to say, we jackknifed only once on the steady upward climb and managed a controlled descent on the other side of the pass into Raton, NM.
January 1982. After hubby graduated in December and with our firstborn less than 4 weeks old, we packed up that same Cutlass – with more precious cargo this time around. The plan was to move back temporarily to CO to stay with my folks while waiting for more details concerning hubby’s new job at HP in the Silicon Valley to determine exactly where we’d be relocating. Again, a January snowstorm. Again, slipping past the road closure signs as the last vehicle going up and over the pass. Safely strapped into her rear facing car seat, our newborn baby girl who’d been sound asleep for most of the trip opened her eyes with a start and immediately began her screaming cries as we began our ascent. She sensed the tension of our situation – and added to it – all the way up & over Raton Pass. This newborn Mother could not – dared not – pick her up to nurse her back to calm – and was thusly initiated into the lifelong Sturm und Drang slice of what it means to be a Mom.
And those are the snowy times when we drove Raton Pass and where listening to Snowin’ on Raton many years hence intersect – hitting squarely through my heart –
Missing home. Missing our baby daughter.
T– Terry, the love of my life. H – Home. Wherever we alight if we’re together, it’s home. A – All Creatures Great and Small, the Lord God Loves Them All. N – (Finding) Neverland – childhood is precious. K – Kindness. A little goes a long way but why be chintzy? S – Snow. On Thanksgiving. The best. G – Grumpy family. It’s okay to get grumpy sometimes, that’s when the Family gets to show you (me) love when you’re (I’m) the grump. I – Interest/engagement in the world outside (y)our personal realm makes for a fuller life. V – Vistas. The views from the peak of our Family’s mountain are the ultimate 360-degree surround sound/visual. Thank you Ma & Dad for preserving its wildness. I – Inspiration. Found in such vistas and meant to be shared via our (he)art. N – (Mister Rogers’) Neighborhood – childhood is precious. G – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
— How about you? Please feel free to add to this mini gratitude list below —
“A beloved Northern California festival (Gilroy grows great garlic and is a small town for goodness’ sake), a neighborhood Walmart in Mississippi (who doesn’t go to Walmart?), another Walmart near the US-Mexico border (Cielo Vista Retail/Mall is a major shopping area that even Las Cruceans go to…) and a popular entertainment district (summer evening activities in the heart of the city…should be safe). All four were the scenes of shootings in the last week — events that together left at least 34 people dead and more than 50 wounded.
A week bookended by violence has left residents shaken, frustrated and grieving.”
“A weekend bookended by violence…”
That phrase, that sentence keeps resounding loud and clear in my mind along with the images of the people and places known and unknown to me.
We lived in the Bay area during the 1980s often joking about Gilroy because of the garlic in the way most large metropolises talk about small towns. Hubby is from Las Cruces, NM where we’ve lived at different times in our married life and where the connections with El Paso and Juarez are more profound & active than with Las Cruces’ New Mexican cities to the north. In fact Cielo Vista Mall was the place to go from all around to shop for clothes. And as for the other two places – who doesn’t go to Walmart or enjoy a summer’s evening out?
Who doesn’t go to school or church, temple or mosque for that matter?
Everyday Americans doing everyday things.
Then the loudest voice among ‘experts’ chiding us everyday Americans for not carrying weapons in order to protect ourselves while going out and about doing our everyday activities…(ref. Larry Ward responses to Amna Nawaz interview questions on PBS Newshour)
Lord have mercy. 20 years ago our kiddos sat in their respective classrooms in Boulder County schools (the eldest in high school) during the shock-surprise of Columbine just 34 miles away from us.
Not directly in the line of fire – but definitely in my backyard.
Our backyard. Our American Backyard. This cannot be our new normal.
Lord have mercy.