Reading: The Great Influenza

My husband Mike was a great reader but his taste in reading material was generally quite different than my own. He read a great deal of nonfiction, a great deal of history.

For some reason — social distance boredom? — I picked up a book that was in his section of the bookcase in our living room. It was a former New York Times best seller with a copyright of 2004, 2005. At the time, the Boston Globe called it ‘Compelling and timely.”

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry.

Boston Globe: “Terrifying and compelling.”

Newsweek: “Terrifying . . . The lessons of 1918 couldn’t be more relevant.” (hasn’t changed)

Los Angeles Times: “Barry puts  the pandemic in a context of medical, national, and world history . . . His well-researched and well-written account raises the obvious question: Could it happen again. And the answer is: Of course it could.”

There are so many eerie echoes — rampant fear and anger at immigrants, egoistic leaders making decisions, overwhelmed hospitals without the personnel or medicines to cope, distrust of science, empty city streets, failure of people to take the situation seriously until it was too late. It is not a read for the faint of heart.

In a 1948 speech to the House of Commons, Churchill slightly changed the quote when he said (paraphrased), “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” and George Santayana-1905 said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana-1905).

It is well written and very sobering.

Virus Numbers

I do not, knock wood, personally know of anyone who actually has the novel coronavirus at present. That does not make it any less real.

I do know and deeply care about many who are inconvenienced in numerous ways–from trivial to dire.

I have no symptoms right now but I was carrying on normal activities while increasing my hand washing and carrying around a spray bottle of disinfectant to spritz surfaces until the situation was critical enough for things to start being shut down. My son came to visit. We are neither one of us crowd people but we did go out enough to have had some contact with others probably closer that six feet.

It’s a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things that I cannot go to my usual yoga classes, meditation groups, book discussion group, writing groups but it’s not like I am losing income for not doing these things, many of which I can do on my own at home anyway.  As luck would have it my pantry is pretty well stocked and I always have cleaning supplies on hand.

I go out for a walk in the sun everyday because I think fresh air and sunshine are health giving. But because I don’t really know how long this virus has been lurking and I don’t really know the extent of my possible exposure, I have strictly adopted social distancing. I can wave to neighbors and chat with friends on my phone.

It’s not worth it to pass on a virus to people I love and care about. If I am erring to an extreme on the side of caution. Will I feel foolish for overreacting if no one I know gets sick? Not in the least little bit. That is what I fervently hope for.

May we all be well. May every living being be well.

 

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Inspired by the Moon

Yesterday we were given the treat of a supermoon and as we anticipated its appearance, a gathering of women met for a “Writing from the Inside” experience.

Beverly, who lead this experience in her lovely Florida home, used the full moon as inspiration and writing prompt. See more of her classes and art work HERE.

There were seven of us all together, open to the process of writing and safe in the process of sharing.

During the first share, Beverly had written down phrases that caught her attention. She gave them back as prompts to choose from for the next writing period:

  • I ate the moon
  • Yes, says the moon
  • with no apologies
  • bathe me
  • facets of your face
  • dancing spirits

What would you make of that? In such a setting, one cannot be sure what is going to bubble up from the inside.

She ate the moon, bite by bite, until it was gone. Then the stars were lonely and they started to cry and their tears washed down and bathed the earth clean. Renewed, the earth starting looking through the sky searching for the goddess of the moon for the earth was lonely as well. The Goddess of the Moon saw the stars and the earth in their distress and was sorry then for having eaten the moon — also sorry that the unsettled moon was rolling around inside her. The moon was not all that happy to have been eaten. From a sliver of a crumb, she began to grow again. The goddess felt her moon child wiggling, kicking and scratching inside her. The goddess slipped out of her purple night cloak, tearing at her own flesh until the moon, full and ripe, burst forth and started her climb through the night sky. The stars were happy once again, shining brightly like jewels and dancing like freedom in a midnight revel. But the earth did not believe in miracles and turned away.

One cannot be sure what might bubble up from the inside. And one might wonder what, where and why that was in there to bubble up in the first place.

A Memory

I was little. I woke up and I did not feel good. I don’t know why and I am sure I didn’t know at the time. I didn’t have the concept of or words for “Bad Mood”

but when I first read Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (as an adult to my children) I recognized my young self in that story.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst - Used (Very Good, ex-library) - 0590421441 by Scholastic, Incorporated |Amazon

As a child*, I could be whiny and obnoxious when I was sick or feeling off.

My mother knew I wasn’t sick and she was generally not the type to soothingly confront bad behavior. She might give it a try once and then threaten to send offending child to Australia by way of a swift but powerful swat to the rear end.

This is what I have a pretty vivid memory of: she looked at me in exasperation and said, “Well, you just got up on the wrong side of bed, didn’t you?” That put me into a tailspin. When my mother was busy with my baby sister I quietly went back up to our bedroom.

There’s a wrong side to get out of a bed? How do you know the wrong side from the right side? What side did I actually use?

Well obviously nothing to do but get back into bed and get out again. I remember going back downstairs and telling my mom that I had gone back and gotten out of bed on the right side this time. I maybe was a little confused that she laughed but my bad mood was gone.

Okay, that’s not just a childhood characteristic. I add this in case any of my family members ever read my blog.

*********

Everything is a learning experience.

A Buddhist might say that I learned about impermanence. Our experiences are ever changing.

A developmental psychologist might say that I learned that I had a certain control over my situation. It may have been a magical solution, but I didn’t absorb a story that I am helpless and at the mercy of a bad mood.

Ahh, those lessons you have to keep learning through a life time.

It Wasn’t WordPress

I haven’t posted here in quite some time. I just was not able to use the WordPress site at all so I gave up.

Well, then I started to have trouble with other programs. I could not post comments on Blogger. I could not save on Pinterest. The Washington Post stopped recognizing me. All of a sudden I was getting “invalid username or password” messages all the time.

The problem, it turns out, was not with any of the sites. It was not with my computer per se. The problem was resolved when I switched search engines.

Adios Safari.

Movie Night

My 11 year old grandson and I had movie night.  He picked out The Queen of Katwe, the story of of a ten year old girl living in Uganda.  Her father has died and her mother struggles to feed and shelter her children. Phiona is part of a group of children who are taught to play the game of chess as part of a missionary program.  Although she is uneducated, has not had the opportunity to go to school, she grasps the game quickly. Soon she is winning championships. The family’s road to a better life is not without hitches, but it is a joyful story, well worth watching.

A trailer HERE.

We enjoyed it very much. Well, except for my popcorn had gone stale and didn’t pop up very fluffy.

Fall Color

I picked up my friend Ginnie and we took a ride to Westford, VT, to see some of the fall color and then stop at a country diner for a hearty lunch.

The leaves are just not as vibrant as usual this year. Usually, you think a bowl of  Trix –lemon yellow, orange orange, and raspberry red.  This year there are yellows and oranges and kind of a rust color brownish.  Reds are conspicuously absent.

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No reds! Perhaps the trees are trying to give us a political statement?

Dinner and the Theater

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Dinner out and then on to the theater to see a play — is there anything better?  Yes, going with three lovely women friends, enjoying their company and enjoying the play.

The play was Disappearances, based on the novel by Howard Frank Mosher.  The book was made into a film in 2006.

At its barest bones, the novel tells the story of a northern Vermont hardscrabble farming family in the 1930 era.  When their barn burns down Quebec Bill Bonhomme takes on a job smuggling whiskey in order to earn $1000 to buy enough hay to keep the animals alive until spring.  His wife strongly objects. He takes his young son Wild Bill along because, it is after all supposed to be his coming of age story.

But of course, the story is far more complex than that. That is was adapted for a film is one ting, but the idea of paring it down for presentation on a stage (and a tiny one at that) is fairly mind boggling. I thoroughly enjoyed the production. Using few actors and a very minimalist stage set, the essence and themes of the story came through.

Bravo to the Lost Nation Theater and director Kim Allen Bent, the actors, and all the behind the scenes people who pulled this off!

Road Construction

We were sent letters from the town this past summer letting us know that there would be road construction along route 2A.  That is a very busy road, the only way to get out of the condo development where I live.  There are quite a few such developments along the three mile stretch of road that connects two intersections.

At rush hour times there can be bumper to bumper traffic on that stretch.  There are no back roads or connecting streets. To get out of any of the developments you have to pull out onto 2A. Even if I am walking I have to get across to use the sidewalk. Sometimes it can take a while. Part of the plan is to install a traffic light at the entrance/exit  for one of the larger developments. I am not sure that will in any way make it easier for me to get out onto the road.

Well, I wanted to be out of the rural area I lived in before.

Anyway, at the moment the construction is taking place right at the driveway.  It’s actually nice.  The traffic controllers stop both lanes of traffic and let us out.

The view from my back window (fuzzy because of rain?)

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I do remember when this town was a cozy  and quaint village surrounded by dairy farms.  There were no traffic lights at all although sometimes we had to stop for cows crossing the road from field to barn.