Category Archives: Coronavirus

Silly and Serious

Clif has a wonderful feel for graphic art, and to take his mind off the coronavirus, he decided to have fun with my YA fantasy novels, Maya and the Book of Everything and Library Lost, which are both part of my Great Library Series. In short, Clif pulp-O-fied them. What he came up with really tickled me—he did use a template—and I thought I’d share it for a little relief. When this is all over, I will have a framed copy for my office. Makes me smile just to look at it.

Coronavirus News from Maine

From Maine Public

Gov. Janet Mills has signed an executive order that adds new restrictions on non-essential businesses….this order turns last week’s recommendations into mandated closures for those… types of businesses beginning at 12:01 – midnight – Wednesday, and extending through April 8th. The order also extends the mandated closure of dine-in services by restaurants and bars until April 8th, while also prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people.

From Maine CDC

Maine’s number of cases of the coronavirus: 142

The News from All Over

From CNN

[T]he White House and Senate lawmakers reached a historic $2-trillion stimulus deal early this morning, amid growing coronavirus fears. The Senate will reconvene at noon to vote on the plan. Wall Street surged, Asian markets rallied and US stock futures pared losses on the news.

The Latest Numbers

Global Cases: 435,006

Global Deaths19,625

My own take: Anyone who thinks that government can never do any good should seriously rethink that position. Certainly, bad governments—authoritarian, incompetent, or corrupt—can do a lot of bad. But a well-run government led by people who truly care about the well being of everyone can do a lot of good. This stimulus deal is much needed and will help individuals and businesses weather this terrible storm. When the pandemic is over, I sincerely hope our country will change course and start providing more services to all the people, not just those at the top. Turns out there are far worse things than having a “nanny state.”

 

Winter Again

Last night, we got around five inches of snow, and as we Mainers would say, it looks like wintah again. Somehow this didn’t bother Clif and me in the least when we got up and gazed at the white beauty of the newly fallen snow. This is March, after all, and in northern New England, we frequently get snow in March.

Outside, everything looked soft and calm, soothing, even, in the face of what’s going on all around us.

I particularly like the tangle of snowy branches.

The temperature is supposed to be in the 50s today, which means the snow won’t last long. But while it does, we will treasure our winter wonderland. As my blogging friend Eliza observed, we northern New Englanders are half crazy, but in a good way.

Coronavirus News from Maine

From Maine CDC

Maine’s number of cases of the coronavirus: 118

From the Bangor Daily News

Only a week earlier, Maine had fewer than 20 confirmed cases, and health officials expect it to continue to spread.

The News from All Over

From CNN

Nearly 1 in 1,000 people in the greater metropolitan area [of New York City]  have now contracted the virus, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus coordinator, said yesterday. That makes the “attack rate” — the percentage of the population with the disease — five times higher than the rest of the US…

From the New York Times

“Look at us today,” Governor Cuomo warned the rest of the country. “Where we are today, you will be in four weeks or five weeks or six weeks. We are your future.”

The latest numbers from CNN:

Global Cases: 387,382

Global Deaths: 16,767

From Mother Nature Nature: More Unsung Heroes

There’s no shortage of people facing extraordinary adversity to help us maintain some semblance of civilization in these pandemic times.

There are the usual suspects — doctors, nurses, firefighters — who make courage under fire seem so routine.

And then there are truckers.

Rain, shine or pandemic, the U.S. relies on about 3.5 million truck drivers to keep goods — the lifeblood of an economy — in circulation.

That includes canned foods and non-perishables like tuna and rice and beans, bound for small stores and shops in every nook of the country. And yes, there’s always a need for more toilet paper on Aisle 12.

My own take: When this horrible time is over, I hope we can respect all the workers who actually keep things running: The truckers, the cashiers, the clerks, the workers who stock shelves, the receptionists, and many others. And pay them a true living wage with benefits such as health care, sick days, and vacation time.  Those at the top never fail to remind us how valuable they are and how much society needs them. Uh-huh. We know the truth now. And let’s not forget it.

 

 

Last Night I Dreamed…

Last night, I dreamed I was walking on a steep snowy path in the woods. When I turned, I saw Liam running toward me. He was at his peak—young, beautiful, and energetic. So very sad to wake up and realize it was only a dream. That dog has been gone for two years, and I miss him still.

Maybe it’s because of missing our dog buddy, maybe it’s because of the pandemic, or maybe it’s because I have a daughter living in New York City, the epicenter of Covid-19 in this country, but I have been moping most of the day.

Life is like that sometimes, and I need to follow my own advice and let myself feel what I feel.

Coronavirus News from Maine

From Maine CDC

Maine’s number of cases of the coronavirus: 107 (On Friday it was 56.)

From the Kennebec Journal:

Governors across the country have imposed tough restrictions on public travel and gatherings to combat the spread of coronavirus, but Gov. Janet Mills is not yet ready to order Mainers to shelter in place, the state’s top public health official told reporters on Monday.

From the Portland Press Herald

Most of us have been advised to stay home, but cashiers have to interact with other humans all day long, although many have changed the way they work…In the United States, more than 3.5 million workers are considered cashiers….a cashier’s annual average income of about $22,400, often coupled with limited or no sick leave, make them less likely to be able to afford to take several days off from work, even if they are sick.

My own thoughts: This pandemic has shown everyone how essential cashiers are to our society. Maybe, just maybe, they should start getting better pay and benefits.

 

Let’s Not Pretend

During this time of the coronavirus pandemic, different people handle it in different ways. Some people prefer to focus on nature and flowers. Others do yoga and meditate. Still others crochet and create. The really ambitious might do a combination of all these thing. What I do is read and write and try to make sense of what’s going on. It’s how I run. But any of these approaches are good.

However, what none of us should do is pretend that everything is all right, because it’s not. We are dealing with a world-wide pandemic that is swamping the medical community in many countries, and it’s my guess it will soon swamp the U.S.’s. In addition, soon there will most probably be a world-wide recession/depression as the economy comes to a halt.

Recently, a new term has popped up: Toxic positivity, the ridiculous notion that no matter how bad things are—your dog just died, then your best friend died, then your husband lost his job, then your mother-in-law died—you should smile, look on the bright side of life, and count your blessings.

Fifteen years ago, all those terrible things really did happen to me in the span of six months. And, yes, I was grief-stricken, depressed even. It eventually passed, as most grief does, and the time even came when I was happy again. But I had to go through my grief. I couldn’t go around it, or worse yet, pretend it didn’t exist.

I have a group of friends I have known for over twenty years. One friend’s mother is dying, and my friend can’t be with her mom because of the nursing home’s quarantine in response to the coronavirus. That same friend’s daughter is home from college, taking all her classes online. Another friend has a granddaughter who will be graduating from high school with no prom, no graduation party or ceremony, no last play, no last concert.

My friend with the dying mother wrote: “Emotions are hard for folks to keep in check with so many unknowns, but this is the world we have today. ”

Here was my response: “As for emotions…don’t deny them. They will have their way no matter what you do. Acknowledge the fear, grief, and panic you are feeling. Then, of course, do what you must do to keep things going.”

After having written the above, I want to emphasize that people should indulge in whatever simple pleasures they find soothing: flowers, nature, books, chocolate, comforting series, or movies. Or, in my husband Clif’s case, a bowl of potato chips at night. Whatever. When the world is in chaos, the spirit needs to be bolstered.

But let’s not ignore or minimize our fear, grief, or panic.

No good will come of it.

Coronavirus News from Maine

From Maine CDC

Maine’s number of cases of the coronavirus: 56

From the Portland Press Herald

Faced with a potential critical shortage of pandemic supplies – such as masks, shoe coverings, gloves and gowns – Maine hospitals are scrambling to conserve what they have, add supplies and keep workers healthy to treat COVID-19 patients.

From the Kennebec Journal

Wastewater treatment plant operators warn that flushing toilet paper substitutes is likely to clog sewer lines and could lead to costly repairs.

Waste Not, Want Not

Even before the coronavirus struck—when I could go to the grocery store without fear of contracting COVID-19—I was mindful about food waste. I tried very hard to use all the food we had before it went bad. However, if I’m going to be honest, I have to admit I was not always successful. (Remember what Yoda said about try.)

Mostly it was because I’m not very organized. Some people have a lazer-like focus when it comes to keeping track of what’s in the cupboard and the refrigerator. I am not one of those people. Sometimes food in containers would get pushed to the back of the refrigerator, and when I finally opened them, I would recoil in horror at what I saw. The last few slices of bread would get tucked behind the brand new loaf, and green grew the mold.

But a pandemic has a way of focusing the mind, and now I am absolutely focused on every bit of food that is in the cupboard and refrigerator.  I want to put off going to the grocery store for as long as possible, and I don’t want to waste any of the precious food we have.

This picture tells the story of my old ways.

I bought these rosemary crackers last summer. The fresh date is August 2019, and they were 50% off. I had never had Carr’s rosemary crackers, but I have had other Carr’s crackers and have liked them a lot.  I also like the taste of rosemary. Because the crackers were on sale, I bought several boxes, probably not a wise thing to do if you have never tasted a particular kind of cracker.

I’m sure you can see where this is going. These are probably my least favorite of Carr’s crackers. I don’t hate them, but I certainly don’t love them either. We did go through two boxes, but the box above languished in the back of our closet pantry.

Until last week. When I was going through our food, I found the box and put it in the front of our food cupboard. Yesterday I had some of the crackers with some leftover cheese.

Believe it or not, the crackers are still crisp and are not stale at all. If they had been stale, I would have used a trick I learned from Clif’s mother, who grew up during the Great Depression: Put the crackers on a cookie sheet and bake them at 350° until they are crisp again.

I will be having the crackers again today for my lunch, and even though I’m still not wild about them, I will repeat the process until they are gone.

I am truly sorry that it took a pandemic to make me more mindful about wasting food, and I hope it’s a lesson I don’t forget when this terrible time has passed.

Coronavirus News from Maine

From centralmaine.com:

The Legislature approved a supplemental budget package worth about $76 million Tuesday, with funding earmarked to help the state respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

The package includes funding for the Maine Centers for Disease Control to beef up its workforce, increased rate reimbursements for those working in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, additional funding for adult education programs and job training, and another $38 million for the state’s public schools.

And perhaps most important:

The bill also expands eligibility for unemployment benefits for workers impacted by the virus, while also eliminating the one-week waiting period for benefits to start.

From Maine CDC:

Maine’s number of cases of the coronavirus: 43

From NBC:

Gov. Janet Mills issued an Executive Order Wednesday mandating a statewide ban on dine-in service at restaurants and bars, as well as a ban on gatherings of 10 or more people effective Wednesday at 6 p.m.

 

 

 

From Our Small Corner in Maine

Normally, I publish three posts a week, with one of them being a photo for wordless Wednesday. But these are not normal times, and for a while, at least, I will be publishing more posts than usual. This will help me make sense of things in my small corner of the world and leave some kind of record of what we did and what we thought. It won’t be complete, of course. No one record ever is. But it will be my contribution to these extraordinary times.

As of this date—March 17, 2020—President Trump is finally taking the novel coronavirus seriously. It took him a very long time to figure out that he couldn’t bully the virus into submission. The virus doesn’t give a hoot about President Trump. It will go where it can and infect the powerful as well as the weak. Now, let us hope that President Trump actually does something useful. There’s talk of a stimulus package, and I’m praying that some of the money will go to people who really need it as opposed to all the usual rich suspects.

Maine is fortunate to have a strong, smart woman—Janet Mills—for governor. Today, according to NBC News, she “has requested that the Small Business Administration help Maine small businesses get supportive loans to overcome the loss of revenue during the COVID-19 concern….Additionally, Mills sent emergency legislation that would temporarily extend eligibility to unemployment to workers that have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.”

In Maine, as of today, thirty-two people have tested positive for Covid-19, and three are in the hospital. So far no reports of death, and may it stay that way.

Our children are well. (Picture me knocking furiously on wood.) Dee, who lives in New York City, is working from home and can do so indefinitely. Shannon and Mike, who live in Asheville, North Carolina. Tomorrow, Shannon will begin working from home, and Mike will, too, unless he is considered a mandatory employee.

Clif and I have been staying safe and sound in our own snug home, and so far, at least, life isn’t really that different for us than it usually is. We are both introverts and homebodies. Even in normal circumstances, most of our time is spent at home. We cook almost every meal that we eat, so we can’t even say we miss going to restaurants. Although we are introverts, we do miss getting together with our friends, and I have been staying in touch electronically, through messages and phone calls.

While we are well supplied with food and toilet, I have found that there are some things I didn’t think of. For example, the Sunday newspaper to read and then to use as a starter for our wood furnace. As a result, we have been scrounging various sources of paper.

But yesterday I looked outside and saw a solution from nature—pine cones scattered throughout our backyard.

Out I went to gather them.

Clif used some pine cones this morning, and he said they worked really well. Because of the pine cones, Clif didn’t have to use nearly as much paper as he usually does to start the fire.

A moment of triumph for me. I spent a happy hour in the backyard in weather that was brisk but pleasant. The yard is mostly free from pine cones, and they have been put to good use.

What have you been doing in this time of the novel coronavirus?