A year on hold . . .

It’s been well over a year since my last post and “what a long, strange ‘trip’ it’s been.” The Covid-19 virus brought the whole world to its knees. There isn’t one person who has not been affected in some way — so much sadness. Through the darkness, however, we have also witnessed many rays of light — so much resiliency and resourcefulness and countless acts of selflessness, thoughtfulness and kindness. It’s given many of us time to step back and reflect on what’s important (and what isn’t) and realize how truly fragile our lives and relationships are.

Of course, we haven’t traveled. Frank and I were fortunate to have a safe, comfortable pandemic home close to our Milwaukee family and friends — even if we couldn’t see them in person. I wrote letters, relived past adventures by putting together travel books and joined a virtual book club. I connected with people I truly cared about and consciously let go of one-sided and unhealthy relationships. Of course, I also outlined some future travel plans! As I look back on our “year+ on hold,” it’s surprising how much has happened.

Stay Home Orders were issued by the Governor in March.
Restaurants, bars, movie theaters and malls are closed.

Even before the Stay Home Order was issued, panic shopping cleared grocery shelves. Cleaning products and toilet paper were the first in short supply, followed by many food products.

Another concerning shortage was lack of PPE (personal protective equipment). A few were fortunate in securing masks early on but most weren’t. We joined in mass mask-making for those who needed but couldn’t get them.

Healthcare workers were lauded as heroes as they worked endless hours to treat and manage the mounting number of Covid patients. My friend Shannon, a nurse on the East coast, contracted the virus from a patient. I sent her one of our thermometers because she couldn’t get one to monitor her own vitals!

New York was hit bad and there were many deaths. Each night for months, residents would go out on their balcony or open a window to honor the doctors and nurses.

New York City
Milwaukee
Milwaukee
Milwaukee
Milwaukee

Frank’s friend Ed, who visited us in San Diego in 2019, was one of our country’s earliest Covid victims. While he and his girlfriend took precautions on an Australia-New Zealand cruise, the Aussie government turned their ship around, tested everyone and dispersed the travelers to their respective countries. A few days later back in California, they were informed by email that 30 on the ship tested positive. A follow-up email said it was 400. A few days later Ed was in the hospital, saying his final goodbyes to his grandkids over a computer. This made the virus really hit home for us and we had little patience for fools proclaiming Covid wasn’t real and precautions were infringing on their “rights.”

Politicization of a virus?!!
Wisconsin became a national embarrassment.
On the positive side, businesses and individuals made adjustments. Schools went to online instruction. Many businesses allowed their employees to work from home. Restaurants transitioned to carry-out only.

Grocery stores offered online ordering with delivery or hands-free pickup options. Special hours were available for seniors and the vulnerable. Everyone had to get used to cooking at home again.

Haircuts and hair-coloring were sacrificed for the time being.
Bank lobbies closed and our local drive-up became a popular “walk-up.”
Computers became a lifeline. Frank “attended” daily mass.
Special free concerts were held for everyone stuck at home.

“Zoom” became the go-to for family and friends to stay connected.

Zoom also allowed us to celebrate special birthdays. Jenny had Sienna’s friends do a drive-by to decorate their driveway for a special sweet 16 surprise!

Covid did not get in the way of romance!

We couldn’t hug but we eventually drifted toward some socially-distanced visiting.

Social-distanced treat drop off.
“Meet our new pandemic puppy Penny!”
Social-distanced party in Juneau Park.
Summer festivals were cancelled.
Baseball season was delayed but later improvised to include cut-out fans.
Frank could safely cheer on his Dodgers!

In the midst of the pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests

Our hero makes the papers.
Come late summer, social-distanced visits became the norm.
Social-distanced funerals and celebrations of life for the many who had passed began to take place.
Unfortunately, people weren’t careful enough.
Precautions were reinstated as many started to get sloppy or simply choose to ignore them.

It was a very strange election cycle as candidates avoided large rallies (unless you were a covid-denying Trumpster). Unique fundraisers popped up and televised debates reached record audiences.

Talk about a brilliant burst of light breaking through the darkness!!!

Meanwhile, milestone birthdays were celebrated with Zoom parties.

A quiet but wonderful birthday celebration.

I can’t tell you how happy I am that I went to the Macy’s Parade last year instead of waiting for my 60th as originally planned!

Christmas comes no matter what.
Christmas was a little different this year.
2020 is over!
2021: a new, hope-filled beginning
Incomprehensible.
More positive developments!!!
Haha

An unexpected turn of events: A month after receiving his second dose of the vaccine, Frank ended up in the hospital with Covid! Other than some aches and fever spikes, his symptoms weren’t real bad and he was home four days later. Still, pretty scary.

Our second Zoom Easter but as more people are getting vaccinated, things are starting to open up.
Weddings that were delayed are finally being held.
Proms, graduations and milestone birthdays can now be shared with small, unmasked groups of vaxed family and friends.
How we’ve missed you all!

Best of all, warm hugs and smiles we can finally see!

As the world begins to open up, Frank and I will carefully venture back out, chronicling our adventures in our next chapter, Waltzing Wanderers 5. Please click and join us!

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Coro-No Travel for now

WEEK 1

March 10

Looks like Frank and I will be sticking close to home for a while. Today we cancelled Thursday’s much anticipated trip to St Petersburg, Florida. My brother, who is visiting my parents in nearby Indian Shores, texted back “Why?”

Why? The coronavirus, or COVID-19, has been poking at our family for a month and a half. Andy went on a week-long sailing trip in Thailand at the beginning of February, just after cases began spreading outside China. He (briefly) considered cancelling but ended up just rerouting his Beijing-connecting flights. Back home, we followed the spread of cases through Asia and were so relieved when he uneventfully returned home. (Passengers weren’t even checked when they arrived stateside.)

My sister Jenny was thrilled when her husband announced they were taking a long-awaited two-week trip to Italy. As her (lack of) luck would have it, they landed in Rome just as cases began exploding across the northern regions. Fortunately, their plan was to stay south. Jenny and Aaron were cautious and utilized a stockpile of antiseptic wipes. They had a wonderful time and flew back on Thursday, just days before the Italians closed down the airports as well as the rest of the country. Unlike Andy, they were asked to fill out questionnaires and screened for temperatures when entering the US. No one was detained. To be safe, they are choosing to self-quarantine at home for two weeks. Meanwhile, their daughter Sienna is staying with a friend. They didn’t want to be the ones introducing the virus to Montana or have their kid expose her high school! (Talk about a tough reputation to shake!)

We got back from San Diego Sunday. Frank has three consecutive days of meetings and our plan was to leave Thursday morning. Andy would fly down and join Tim and Frank for Indy trials and race (complete with pit passes), while Deb and I hung out. Next Monday, Frank and I would go to Indian Shores to visit Mom and Dad for a few days.

On Sunday, Debbie sent us an email, “I never imagined having this kind of concern but wondering how you and Frank are feeling about traveling this week. We just got back from DC . . . both my daughter-in-law and her mom work at Virginia Hospital.  We spent a bit of time talking about the risk (of coronavirus) . . . I guess what I didn’t realize was that the over 60 age group is pretty susceptible…not just older and compromised people…basically us.” I told her we still planned on coming but we’d contact Frank’s doctors for their advice.

No word from the Transplant team until late last night: We suggest taking the same precautions we always suggest for travel; MASK in large crowd or close quarters; FREQUENT Hand washing; Use disinfectant wipes on frequently touched areas i.e., seat belts , hand/arm rests, tray tables – hotel room surfaces including door knobs. 

Obviously the staff isn’t overly concerned and didn’t advise against travel. But we’re skeptical. Abroad, it’s spreading exponentially every day and people are dying. Markets are reeling and we have a President who’s telling people it’s nothing to worry about and they can go to work. “Media hoax!” “Democrats ploy to undermine the President!” Hey people, the US is not immune and it’s going to get much worse before it gets better.

We don’t want to be in Florida when things go south (haha). Just saying.

March 11

Frank’s been working on a Holocaust Education Bill for Wisconsin. He was supposed to go up to Madison today for the Senate committee hearing (passed in House unanimously). This was one of the reasons we came back. Our friend Bev called last night and told him to stay put; she was worried about his health. There are only three confirmed cases in Wisconsin, two in Dane County. Overreaction? Perhaps. But best to play it safe. 

Andy will head back to New York on Thursday since he isn’t going to Florida. One of his NY friends texted a picture of bare shelves at Whole Foods. He’s heard that bodegas are selling Purell for $70. I joked that he should drive out to Waukesha County and pick up Purell and wipes, “Waukesha County refuses to believe there’s a threat. Stock up there and sell the wipes in NY.” He said he’d give them away for free. : )

I do a Target run. No Purell and no deodorizing wipes so I head to Farm and Fleet, snagging the last twin pack of wipes. Food, the wipes and a bottle of Purell (found in our storage shed) go into Andy’s care package. He comes over to pick it up but won’t get too close, “I don’t know want to risk being a carrier and get you guys sick.”

Madrid’s Prado Closes” Our niece Carly is studying in Spain. I texted to see if she’s OK. She said people there weren’t concerned and she hoped to travel “til my money runs out” if they close down her school.

News from Florida: The NHL game we were supposed to attend tomorrow night is cancelled. 

March 12 

NBA postpones season. Baseball postpones Opening Day. St Petersburg Indy Race will be held without spectators. 

Frank and I are feeling pretty good about our decision to cancel our trip : ) Fortunately we pay attention to WHO and CDC rather than our government “leadership.” Others are paying attention, too. Andy said there were only four people on his flight to New York!

I continue to be flabbergasted at the number of Facebook posts still making light of all this, joking about overreaction and how the media are “playing us.” I want to shake them, “IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT YOU! It’s who you infect, the speed of spread, the potential of overloading our healthcare system!!!” All I can do is click “HIDE POST.”

Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson test positive for coronavirus. Yikes! Someone everyone “knows.” Maybe this will this make more people take things seriously.

March 13

Wake up to text from Mom: “Carly’s program has been cancelled. She’s heading home.

St Petersburg race cancelled altogether. PGA Players Championship and three other tournaments cancelled. Yikes! Everyone home and no sports to watch. What will they broadcast? Sandlot and “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf” reruns?

March 14

Frank meets a friend at Ruby Isle Panera for coffee, eerily quiet this Saturday morning.

Had planned to see current exhibit at Milwaukee Art Museum. Too late. MAM closed until further notice.

Having a bit of a “helpless” feeling meltdown. So many people will suffer due to this virus — nurses and doctors but also restaurant workers, grocery people, event staff, people that can least afford being off of work. Elmbrook announced on Thursday that they were going to online classes. That’s fine for an affluent district. What happens if Milwaukee does that? Not all kids have computers. Could they do something via TV? Everyone seems to have one of those.

We talked to our favorite Jesuit, Father Herian. He is 96 years old and living at San Camillus (“no visitors” lockdown since Thursday). He told us that we should stay home from church until things calm down. We had been wondering about that. Perpetually perplexed that Catholics do the Sign of Peace at each Mass. All it does is spread germs! What to do when the guy behind you has been hacking through mass and reaches out to shake your hand?!!

The markets are going crazy and it seems to be worse every time the President opens his mouth. Why couldn’t they have anticipated some of this? Doesn’t help that two years ago, Trump shut down the office Obama set up to manage pandemics and global health threats. 

The crazies are coming out. Should have expected it. A friend I haven’t seen in a while Facebook reposted: “the media is creating all out panic . . . rooting for recession, destruction and death . . . enemy of the people” and “just like that, the government controls all sporting events concerts . . . whether or not you can leave your house . . over a virus . . . with survival rates that are extremely high.” Yikes! Delusional. UNFOLLOW.

March 15

Frank was the first customer inside Pick n’ Save this morning (they’ve reduced their hours and open at 6). He knows how much I love my Sunday New York Times. He said the toilet paper shelves were wiped out. Still no Purell but lots of wipes. Joked about the condom section being empty, too. Think about it. Will there be a baby boom in nine months?

We watch “Ford vs. Ferrari,” consolation for Frank missing his Indy experience. This is a good opportunity to catch up on my list of movies and series. We’ll be in Brookfield at Mom and Dad’s until they get home in April and they’ve got everything on their TV. 

The pantry and freezer are decently (but not overly) stocked and yes, we have enough toilet paper.