The Dog Days of 2020

When I was working during a particularly challenging time or undergoing cancer treatment, I would think in terms of dog days.  Every day felt equivalent to 7 days and every week equivalent to 7 weeks.  That is how the months since the pandemic have been feeling to me. The first few months of 2020 feel like a different lifetime!

This article in the New York Times summed it up this strange feeling for me. It is hard to even remember events like the Iran drone strike, the impeachment trial, the Democratic primary, Harry and Meghan, and Kobe Bryant’s death.

My own early 2020 activities are also a vague memory:

  • Etta’s for brunch and a stroll through the Pike Place Market (last time on Feb. 9th)
  • Movies at the Grand Cinema – last movie we saw was Corpus Christi (March 10t)
  • Breakfast and lunch out – last was to Anthony’s (March 15)
  • Visits to Oregon to see our grandchildren (last time February 7th)
  • Lunch with friends (last time February 13th)
  • Pedicures (February 18th)
  • Haircuts without a mask (February 19th)
  • Manicures (March 7th)
  • Day hikes at Point Defiance Park (last hike March 19th)
  • Long weekends away (CA in January)
  • Last trip (Hawaii in February)
  • Happy hour with friends (February 15th)

I took all these activities for granted. I know I didn’t fully appreciate how special they were and how privileged I was to be able to do them without fear for my safety and the safety of others!

COVID 19 Data for King County (as of July 9, 2020)

  • Positive tests: 11, 486 (up 1,130 since last week)
  • Hospitalizations: 1662 (up 62 since last week)
  • Deaths: 602 (13 since last week)

Mask up, physical distance, and wash your hands,

Until Monday,

Allene

I’m ready for a visit!

I read this blog and it was an aha for me. 

CLZ’s mom and my mom frequently visited when we were both growing up in Montana.  We lived in the same neighborhood and they would take turns dropping by for coffee and a visit.  I think they used to call first, but I am not 100% sure on that point.  Nobody made a big fuss; it just happened. My Montana friends still visit with each other.

Until the pandemic, visiting here had gone by the wayside.  When I met up with friends, it was usually outside the home for lunch, happy hour, or dinner.  We haven’t had people (other than family) over for dinner in decades.  It is too much work to clean, cook, clean-up, etc.  And like the blog author, I can’t really get too excited about potlucks.

The pandemic has changed how we gather.  I now have weekly Zoom cocktails with my Montana friends.  We each have our own beverage and snack, if needed.  Nobody must clean their house before logging on or worry about driving or what we are wearing.  We just focus on connecting and really savor that time. I also have a monthly tea Zoom with my friend, JLQ, again no travel needed.

As the pandemic processes and things open (kind of a long shot with the COVID 19 cases exploding), I want to keep the visiting concept alive. 

Let’s keep visiting by taking walks, hanging out on our front porches, back decks, or parks. Or, when all else fails, we can always Zoom!

Hope to see you for a visit soon– masked and six feet apart, of course!

Allene

Mask Up!

COVID is on the rise again in WA and our governor has mandated face coverings statewide as of today.

I know there are some who disagree with that position.

As  nurse with a long career in public health, I am firmly on ‘Team Mask’ and here’s why:

  • The science increasingly supports the effectiveness of face coverings
  • You can’t count on COVID 19 giving you a pass.  It is infecting younger people (the largest percentage of cases in WA are now 20-39).  Some of them are ending up in the hospital with life threatening conditions (12% of our hospitalized cases are 20-39) and some are dying
  • Face coverings are easy to make and now easy to find. My thanks to KJ and JG for making me masks
    • Target has a rack of them in their stores
    • There are super cute ones available to order. These are some of my favorites: Mixed up clothing, Liberty of London (pricy, but very stylish!) and Athleta.
    • Disposable masks are now available online or in drug stores
  • You need to wear them inside with other people or outside when physical distancing isn’t possible, not 24/7.
  • Masks show that you care about the well being of others

I know the messages regarding masks were mixed at the beginning of the pandemic.  Scientists weren’t sure if face coverings would be effective for the general public and wanted to target the limited supply of N-95 and surgical masks for healthcare workers. This is still a very new virus and new science emerges almost daily. 

Now we know that masks work!  Wear them to protect yourself and others.

COVID 19 stats for King County (Seattle) (6/25/20)

  • Positive tests: 9612 (up 525 since last week)
  • Hospitalizations: 1561 (up 24 since last week)
  • Deaths: 585 (3 since last week)

Physical distance, mask up and wash your hands before putting on your face covering and after taking it off.

Have a good weekend.

Allene

I am a Shopper!

While I don’t mind online shopping, I’m more of a bricks and mortar fan.

My idea of a great day is to meet my best friend at Bellevue Square and make the rounds – Starbucks – Nordstrom – Crate and Barrell – Pottery Barn – Nordstrom – Lunch with prosecco – Nordstrom.  I am perfectly happy coming home with just a tee shirt and a new lipstick.

My idea of a fun weekend is taking the train to Portland with my friends and spending time at our favorite spots: Grayling Jewelry, Powell’s Books and Sur La Table (already a COVID bricks and mortar casualty). The trip is capped off with some Moonstruck Chocolate treats from my daughter for our train ride home.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t add a Saturday trip to Seattle with my husband and brunch at Ettas followed by a stroll through Pike Place Market.

I also enjoy less ambitious shopping trips.  I like shopping in Tacoma’s Proctor district and at Target.

Since I retired, I also enjoyed grocery shopping.  Yes, even grocery shopping will do.  In the ‘beforetimes’, it was common to find me taking a grocery store run every other day…..and sometimes every day.

COVID times have upended all of that. No more shopping trips to Bellevue, Portland, Seattle or even Tacoma.

My twice weekly grocery store trips are now filled with stress:

  • I need to go early
  • I need to have a list and shop in stores that I know well
  • I mask up, wear gloves, and try to physically distance myself from other shoppers

I am very aware of (and irritated by) unmasked shoppers, particularly those who dawdle and don’t follow the aisle directional signs.  My first question when my husband comes home from shopping is ‘how was it’?  I am asking about mask wearing, shopper behavior and crowds, not about what he bought.

One of the hard things right now is to try and visualize the ‘aftertimes’ when it comes to one of my favorite pastimes.

What stores and restaurants will survive COVID times? What will the new bricks and mortar shopping experience be like? 

And how long is COVID time anyway?????

Allene

Note, as always I have no direct financial relationship with any of the posted links.

Savoring

I love this quote from E.B. White:

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world.  This makes it hard to plan the day. But if we forget to savor the world, what possible reason to we have for saving it. In a way, the savoring must come first.”

I am one of those people who like to be ‘on the go’ and always ‘doing something’! My mother used to say that I had ‘ants in my pants’.

That ‘doing preference’ is one of the reasons that staying home to be safe during the pandemic has been a challenge for me.  It was also one of the challenges that I had after retiring. 

When I retired, I spent the first few months doing a big house clean out.  We also did some traveling and were on the go a fair amount with eating out, going to movies, and just doing stuff. The pandemic put a stop to the traveling and the little outings I enjoy so much with my husband, friends and family.

Over the past two years, I have been trying to shift more into ‘savoring’ mode instead of ‘doing’ mode. I still have a daily to do list but try and be more mindful and present as I go about my day. 

As a cancer survivor, I want to savor each day because I learned ‘this might be all she wrote’! I am getting better at the shift, but still have a long way to go.  I am still hardwired to be a ‘doer’.  COVID time has helped accelerate the savor shift– whether I want to or not.

Allene

And the Reading is Easy

It is officially summer and that kicks off summer reading.  I love to go light in the summer, the ‘beachier the better’.  Of course, I already have far more books stacked up (see picture above) and on my Kindle than I can possibly read!

I have already read two of the big beach books: The Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner and 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand.  They each took me about a day to read and were highly entertaining.

I am about to launch into Someone We Know by Shari Lapena.  She is a Canadian author and I have loved her other books.

I continue to listen to Helene Tursten’s Detective Irene Huss books on audio.  I am currently listening to Who Watcheth and only have one left in the series after that. I plan on moving my listening to Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books (thanks MB). Keeping on the mystery theme, I am also thinking about Agent Running in the Field by John Le Carre.  Have any of you read it?  If so, please leave a comment.

While I love to read, part of me feels guilty about ‘just sitting there reading’ when there are other things that need doing. While I was working, I primarily read when I was away from home on vacation.  That worked because my vast ‘to do’ list wasn’t staring me in the face.  That ‘guilt’ has carried over into retirement.

 Then I came across this quote:

Nothing took precedence over reading; it was considered the holiest activity a person could engage in’

                                                                                                     28 Summers

That inspired me to put guilt in my rearview mirror and I am off to read!

Allene

Note: I have no financial relationship with any of the links posted other than buying the books.  I try to link to Powell’s City of Books in Portland, an independent bookseller, whenever possible.

#bestpetsever

As Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are now in our rear view mirror, my thoughts turn to…..PETS! It is ‘pet-mom’ or ‘pet-dad’ day for them every day!

Our dog, Yulie is pictured above on the right in her much younger years.  She is a Lhasa Apso/terrier/mutt that we rescued from the Tacoma Humane Society in July 2009.  She was about 3 years old and had been a ‘teen mom’.  She is now 14 or so. 

She has had a series of GI problems for about a year and suffers from separation anxiety.  She is almost completely deaf (or has selective hearing) and cataracts.  She strongly dislikes 99% of the dogs that come her way! And she is the only dog we ever had who hates to take walks.

Yulie is on a special diet, prepared by her ‘dog dad’.  It consists of organic ground turkey, green beans and white rice.  She also has a probiotic sprinkled on her dinner not to mention daily doses of Proin and thyroxine. Unfortunately, ground turkey will always remind me of dog food.

With all of this, our Yulie is thriving in Covid time!  It has given her a new lease on life. 

She loves us being home, taking outings with us in the car and napping in my home office when I am ZOOMING.  And, most importantly, being fed at precisely 4:30 PM every day with nary a GI problem in sight. And there isn’t anything she wouldn’t do for one dried blueberry from TJ’s!

Before the pandemic, we had been awfully close to this being the ‘end time’ for her.  Now I hope we have a lot more dog days left.

#bestdogs/catsever:

Here today: Yulie, Herbie, Lilac, Choteau, Snowy, Kyra, Beau, Gunther, Chance, Bella, Gracie, Hamilton, Charlie, Pearl, Abby and many more

Always in our hearts: Margie (above on the left), Tommy, Holly, Spike, Lulu, Skippy, Moose, Liz, Gigi, Sam, Thor, Zipper, Snoopy, Jasper, Finnegan, Buddy and so many more

Allene

Tipping Point?

I am a person who embraces evolutionary change.  I am OK with change overall but am a bit leery of the revolutionary kind.

It is Juneteenth and I think this is a good time to be talking about revolutionary change when it comes to racism.

Evolutionary change isn’t doing the trick with racial equality.   It is hard to believe we still have ‘Aunt Jemima’ and ‘Uncle Ben’s’ in 2020.  What is equally hard for me to believe is that I have Uncle Ben’s products in my pantry and didn’t even think about how this stereotypes Black people! No more Uncle Bens for me.

Malcom Gladwell defines a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point“.

I got curious and wanted to learn more about tipping points.  So I read The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference , published in 2000. (Side note, I have finally discovered the beauty of downloading ebooks from the Pierce County library). I think his concepts about changing the context, salesmen, mavens and connectors are really interesting.  I wish I had read it 20 years ago.

So, have we finally reached a ‘tipping point’ regarding racism?  I think we reached a tipping point with the ‘Me Too’ movement. Sexual misconduct has been too common in the workplace.  But the ‘Me Too’ movement finally struck the right chord and powerful men were taken down almost overnight.  And I think that a similar tipping point happened when the Berlin wall fell in 1991.  That also seemed to happen overnight.

Will something similar happen with racism in our country? Will these protests, killing of unarmed Black men and the disproportionate impacts of COVID 19 on Black and brown people finally be the tipping point for racial equality?  Or is racism too entrenched and maybe Uncle Ben will be ‘rebranded’, and that will be about it……..

King County COVID 19 data from June 18, 2020

  • Positive tests: 8987 (up 403 since last week)
  • Hospitalizations: 1537 (up 25 since last week)
  • Deaths: 582 (up 11 since last week)

Nicholas Kristof – Antifa

This column is definitely worth a read!

Please physical distance, mask up, wash your hands and have a good weekend.

Allene

Ahhh…Simplicity

I have been following the simplicity movement for decades and I have the books to prove it!  Some are pictured on my blog header and others live quietly on my Kindle.

I first got interested in the ‘movement’ back in the mid 90’s while living in California.  My first book was written by Elaine S. James, Simplify Your Life.  I still think it is among the best.  I have all her books.

I also like 30 Days to a Simpler Life and the books by Alexandra Stoddard. More recently, I have been taking a deeper dive into Logom, the Swedish Art of Balanced Living.

I am also following Courtney of BeMoreWithLess.  I have one of her books and it is good: Soulful Simplicity.  One of the key points she makes in her book is to get rid of what doesn’t matter so you are left with what does.

Now here’s the tricky part for me.  What have I adopted as a result of 20+ years of all this reading on simplicity? 

Each time I finish one of the books (I have reread all of them several times) I am filled with good intentions.  I have managed to incorporate a few of the suggestions.  I now practice yoga (thanks KP), meditate daily (thanks JP), moved to a smaller house, use online bill pay and that about sums it up.

If I had followed even 20 of Elaine’s 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things that Really Matter, where would I be in 2020?  Who knows, it is too late now to rewind the tape.  

‘Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need – a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends worth the name, someone to love and some to love you, a cat, a dog and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear and a little more than enough to drink, for thirst is a dangerous thing’                                                                                                                                 – Jerome Klapka Jerome

Allene

Note: I have no financial relationship with any of the links posted.

Summer fashion?

This blog is intended to be about culture, travel and fashion.  I am currently batting 1 out of 3 since there isn’t much travel going on or much of a need for new fashion.

Today I am going to take a run at fashion in this era of ‘stay at home; stay comfortable’ COVID times.

Here’s an article from the Washington Post about how the pandemic is changing fashion trends.

  • False eyelashes are in and lipstick is out (due to masks)
  • Skin care is in and makeup is out
  • Comfortable shoes/slippers are in and high heels are out
  • Good value basics and casual wear are in

I have been following a blog, unefemme.net.  I love Susan, the blogger.  MC calls her my ‘imaginary friend’.  When I see a post from her in my email, that is the first thing I open.  She loves to travel; loves France and I love her fashion sense. 

Susan had her colors done (in London, no less) and that prompted me to have a color analysis.  Like many of you, I had my colors done back in the early 80’s and was an ‘autumn’.  And I still am with some minor modifications.  I had drifted away from my autumn palette to black, black and more black (the most popular color in the NW).

During the lockdown, I did my obligatory closet clean out and really used my palette to sort what stays and what goes.  Thank heavens Goodwill is open for donations! I also arranged my closets with the hangars facing toward me so I could see what I really wear by the time summer ends.  I am not sure this summer will be a good test, but it is a start. Another blogger I follow posted a spring capsule wardrobe, even in quarantine.

From the ‘beforetimes’, here is an excerpt from an Italian travel ‘blog’ I did 1 ½ years ago. It was summer while we were there so my report is about what I saw on the streets of the Italian Riviera:

  • Lots of linen – in neutrals and in brighter colors
  • Very little black
  • Shorts on women of all ages
  • Lightweight ankle pants
  • Skinny jeans
  • Sport shoes (Nikes, New Balance, Adidas), sport sandals (not Tevas, Chacos, or Keens, but sleeker and more fashionable), Birkenstocks, Pons sandals from Spain (loved them, but they didn’t fit me)
  • Primarily over the shoulder totes, some backpacks and a few cross-body bags, some handbags with a handle on top and a cross body strap; men used waist bags
  • As soon as the temp dropped below 75, scarves (Italians run cold)
  • Little grey hair – mostly dyed blonde

Missing Italy, Ciao,

Allene

Note: I have no financial relationship with any of the links I post.