Sunday, March 29, 2020

Day 20: Lessons

Even with the sun shining outside this bright morning,
promising an early spring, I find myself asking:
What can I learn from the past
to prepare for COVID-19?
This new virus sweeps the country, masking us all,
frightening the elderly with statistics, new cases and death
spreading to nearly every state,
and the lack of testing, supplies, coherent policies,
panicking those who already are well-stocked,
leaving store shelves empty.
Last week, a few teenagers laughed, “We don’t need to worry.
The virus goes after the elderly.”
Today, some young men fought in a grocery store,
spilling beer and catsup on the floor.
What violence awaits us as we sit in our houses,
reluctant to go outside?

In the 1950’s, my grandfather built a bomb shelter
in his back yard. He dug the earth out under the house,
turned a bedroom into a library of bookshelves,
lined with cans of tomatoes and bags of flour.
At school, we learned
what to do when the bombs came.
We leaned over our desks, our right arms over our necks.
I was eight years old. I wondered how this would save me,
my face pressed against the wood.
Just as I wonder now how will we define community?
Who will care for us, the children locked out of school,
those who scrabble together a living from part-time jobs,
and those who are lost on the streets?

Isolation by Geralt (Pixabay)
Thanks to friends and family, near and far, who keep us connected. And to writers and poets Heather Carr-Rowe, Sue Eller, and Annette Drake for their encouragement.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Day 18: Winter Sparrows . . .

Winter sparrows and
an occasional finch still come
to the bird feeder every morning.
Already I’m forgiven for being gone a month.
Maybe for them, the seed
simply appears, and if not,
they move on.

Will we be like that when store shelves empty?
Will we move on to some unknown,
faraway place, maybe where the sky is blue,
and snow doesn’t fall in March.
Or will we simply stay
In this small apartment,
learning new ways to survive?
This morning, the birds are gone,
and the quiet is filled with doubt.

We're nearly in the last week in March, Day 18 of self-quarantine, and I'm finally back to writing -- or I should say reviewing and editing. Occasionally, I look for a poem in this land where snow falls in March. Today's poem came with watching the birds scrabble for seed.

Sparrows by suju on Pixabay
May you be well and at peace in these somehow quiet yet tumultuous days. Try not to watch too much news.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Day 16: Is staying at home just OK?

Finally nearly back to 'normal,' when nothing around us seems quite normal.

We flew back from Tucson to Spokane via Seattle on Friday, March 6, blissfully ready to be home. I was aware of the coronavirus, just enough to be a little nervous when I sat next to a man wearing a mask, one of only two on the crowded plane.

Saturday, we saw the kids and, since we'd been away for a month, did a massive restocking at a relatively normal Freddy's. I celebrated once again, knowing where the pancake turner (and other cooking utensils) in my kitchen were. Sunday, we stopped in at Trader Joe's to pick up a few favorites (chocolate bar, cinnamon bread), and were shocked by the long lines -- packed carts jumbled together at the checkout lines.

Monday, I got the cold. No high temperature, no shortness of breath, none of the other touted symptoms of coronavirus, but I had no stamina at all -- aside for grabbing for Kleenix and resting.

Tuesday, March 10, we began our stay-at-home, just a little ahead of everyone else. Just two-and-a-half weeks later, I'm beginning to feel almost normal, though dear hubby did catch the cold. He's about a week behind me. Then on Monday, March 23, Governor Jay Inslee issued a 'stay at home' order -- which leads me to today's question:

Is staying at home just OK?

My answer is except for worrying about people who're losing their jobs, those who are going hungry, and the spread of the coronavirus in general, we're doing fine. Even if the libraries are all closed. Some of my friends, though, are a little stir crazy.

Maybe writers have an advantage? So how are YOU doing? What are your strategies for coping just now? Once I recovered from my cold (which may or may not have been coronavirus), here's what's helped me:

1. ROUTINE. Follow my usual routine of up early, setting goals for the day (which have included filing taxes online, completing the Census online, rescheduling doctor appointments -- now 90 days out!). I still do keep a to-do list, one that just now is far too long.

2. WRITING. Work on some aspect of writing every day. The biggest completed yesterday was reviewing 57 chapters for the final audiobook before pushing that button, "Ready for Publication." Now I get back to work on my current wip and get ready for National Poetry Month, the goal to write a poem a day through April.

3. HOUSEKEEPING. We do order groceries online about every 2 weeks. Is anyone else doing the wipe-down on everything, including that mild soap and water wash for all fruits and vegetables? Aargh. There's always laundry and general upkeep, but not so much to worry about when we've downsized to a small 2-bedroom apartment.

4. NURTURING. Yes, we probably watch way too much news about the coronavirus. We do walk every day up to the pond and back. The redwinged blackbirds have returned. And I'm quilting as well. Finished enough blocks for another comfort quilt. We have movie night about every other day (free movies!), and we're reading. I'm also connecting with friends online and by phone, happy to hear their voices and to know, even when they struggle, they are all doing well.

This morning, a light snow blankets our patio, but the finches are happy. Their feeder is full. I wonder if this is the last snow before true spring and what our world will be like when winter rolls around again.

May you and yours be well. Cherish each day!

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

IWSG #3 March: Cactus and Commitment

This last month, I’ve been in Tucson, surrounded by the Catalina Mountains and miles of cacti and hiking trails, museums, unforgettable restaurants (Greek, Iranian, ‘Mercian, and Mexican). A lovely vacation. We leave for home this coming Friday, back to the land of steady internet and concerns about Coronavirus. Snow is predicted for Saturday back in Spokane, a long stretch from 82F this Thursday.

Because of iffy internet connections, and hours of frustration, I’ve set aside my writing commitments. As a new owner of an iPad, I have learned I cannot work (that is draft AND save) on my wip unless I’m connected to the internet. So try revision on a first draft and skipping writing every other day. Doesn’t lead to consistency. I switched to writing scenes. That didn’t work either. How about by hand? Didn’t writers work this way BEFORE technology? And write great stuff? But where is that quiet corner, nearly impossible to find when traveling in a group.

I have renewed appreciation for — my writing room at home, an internet connection that works 24/7, and uninterrupted writing time each morning. DH doesn’t care if I get up at 5am to write. So, the muse has been on her own vacation — We learned of healing baskets, the quiet of the desert, and the surprise of sun and birdsong during the winter.

Lesson for this month not at all connected to IWSG? Remember, my daughter said, that when you fly long distances, you’ll need some time before your soul catches up with you. So, the muse and I will wait a few days after unpacking — and then, we’ll write!

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers a monthly challenge, to share our challenges, successes, and doubts — to encourage each of us with our writing. This month’s challenge (optional) was to write about how different holidays may have inspired our writing. Nearly 200 writers participate in this monthly challenge. Why not visit our HOME PAGE at to see what others have written — and to thank this month’s hosts!

May your writing go well. Or, at least, better than my iPad skills!

Near Sabino Canyon, Tucson