happy may day in coronavirus land

May Day 2017 St. Peter’s School Philadelphia, PA

It’s May Day. Some are scratching your heads. Beltane. Still scratching your head?

From the History Channel:

Beltane
The Celts of the British Isles believed May 1 to be the most important day of the year, when the festival of Beltane was held.
This May Day festival was thought to divide the year in half, between the light and the dark. Symbolic fire was one of the main rituals of the festival, helping to celebrate the return of life and fertility to the world.
When the Romans took over the British Isles, they brought with them their five-day celebration known as Floralia, devoted to the worship of the goddess of flowers, Flora. Taking place between April 20 and May 2, the rituals of this celebration were eventually combined with Beltane.
Maypole Dance
Another popular tradition of May Day involves the maypole. While the exact origins of the maypole remain unknown, the annual traditions surrounding it can be traced back to medieval times, and some are still celebrated today.
Villagers would enter the woods to find a maypole that was set up for the day in small towns (or sometimes permanently in larger cities). The day’s festivities involved merriment, as people would dance around the pole clad with colorful streamers and ribbons.

May is named for Maia, the ancient Roman Goddess who was the incarnation of the earth mother and goddess of spring.

Those of us who went to St. Peter’s School at 4th and Pine in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia will always remember May 1 fondly. Heck if you lived near the school on May 1st you will always have May Day memories. Which is why I was a little wistful this morning when I realized there would be no Maypole or dancing at St. Peter’s today.

May Day, early 1970’s St. Peter’s

May Day was so awesome. We donned our spring best and we did many traditional Celtic things including dancing around the Maypole. The multi-colored ribbons being woven in and out as we danced. (Here is a video from the School in Rose Valley so you can see.) There were also pipe dancers over clay pipes.

May Day was one of the best things about being a kid back then. Ribbons and balloons and music. All your friends and parents were there. It was so joyful. (St. Peter’s photos found here – not mine.)

So Happy May Day to my childhood friends! Happy May Day to all of you!

May Day Maypole Dance Early 1970s (circa 1974 maybe) St. Peter’s School Philadelphia PA

the gratitude jar…2020

A few years ago I started a gratitude jar. It’s about positive affirmations. It’s about being grateful.

It’s nothing complicated. You write down little things in your life you’re grateful for onto little pieces of paper and you put it in the jar. Some people empty out the jar on an annual basis and start fresh, others let the little slips of paper accumulate. I don’t add to it as often as I should, but I have let all my little slips of paper accumulate and once in a while I read them.

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
Lao Tzu

Feeling grateful as a powerful emotion. An hours a time where as hard as it is we also have to be grateful. Grateful that we are alive. Coronavirus and COVID-19 is separating so many people from their families. Coronavirus and COVID-19 are killing people in our communities every day.

Our new decade has started with a global pandemic and that has a lot of negatives to it. But if we’re doing our part and we’re staying home and we’re with our loved ones, that’s something to be grateful for. Even if we’re all separated and we’re all OK it’s still something to be grateful for.

Small things matter. Giving thanks matters. Do you keep a gratitude jar?

coronavirus breeds hate

I actually think angels are weeping over the behavior of humans. Some days in this land of coronavirus in which we live it is hard to be anything but repulsed by fellow human beings. People keep saying over and over that this virus brings out the best and worst in people. Over the weekend I saw the worst again.

NextDoor is a social media platform that a lot of people who are on it for some reason don’t think it’s actually a social media platform. The end result are things that you wouldn’t even see on Facebook at times. Sociologically and psychologically it’s fascinating even when it’s terribly sad.

A conversation thread went up over the weekend of someone looking for literally Chinese takeout food. A lot of the restaurants are closed, one in particular may have lost their lease but no one is sure, and because of the horrible nickname COVID-19/coronavirus has been given, I think a lot of these places are closed because they’re scared of peoples’ reactions to their nationality.

The thread was humming along with people posting restaurants open and closed here and there and then boom! All of a sudden up pops this one woman who says something to the effect of she couldn’t believe anyone would want to patronize Chinese restaurants. this person goes on to write other things that can only be described as both prejudiced and racist.

Then a separate post pops up. From a gentleman who ironically claims to have an Asian descended wife. And it’s basically why would anyone want to have Chinese food they caused the virus and my Asian wife agrees with me. I am paraphrasing, but that was the gist of their post.

I sort of sat there gob smacked looking at it because this is a person whom I know to be intelligent and can be quite thoughtful. But sometimes they go off the rails and I guess this is one of those occasions. But to take an entire nationality to task over a virus that may or may not have originated in a particular country is just repugnant. I say originated because I don’t think anyone has determined the ultimate point of origin for coronavirus/COVID-19. And I think starting and originating are two different things.

It’s also the whole sick argument of if people look different so they must be different, therefore they must be bad and I just can’t stand it. And I just am amazed at the hate that is fomenting in this country even more so than before the virus took over our lives.

I am descended from people who were discriminated against in this country because of their nationality. Irish, Italian, and German. And don’t forget the religion – I’m Catholic. That’s been a huge problem here and there in this country as well. And not just today because of the issue of pedophile priests.

I have a step sister-in-law who is Taiwanese by birth. I have another good friend who is Taiwanese by birth. I have an honorary Chinese mother who is also actually Taiwanese by birth. These three women are all important to me and I feel very lucky to have them in my life.

I have other friends who are Indonesian and others who are Korean and Vietnamese. I do not look at any of these people with descriptive tags attached. Their cultures are unique and beautiful and they share them openly and generously with all of us. Just like my friends of other cultures like Poland, Romania, the UK and Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Latin America, and so on and so forth. My friends come in many different races and nationalities and isn’t that part of what being an American is about?

We are a country born of immigrants and founded of immigrants. Yet we seem to be devolving into a country of pig ignorant people. Racism and prejudice seems to be rampant right now. And why can’t we just take a breath and pause? Why do we have to be so hateful to one another? We are all affected by what is happening because of COVID-19/Coronavirus.

I also know people who have adopted children of different nationalities and even different skin colors than their own. These sentiments for lack of a better description terrify them. They worry how it will affect their children, if their children will be safe in this world in which we live. And can you really blame them?

We (again) are a nation born of immigrants. It’s our literal history. This country was formed because people wanted a better life and less persecution and religious freedoms.

Yet here we are.

Every time something goes wrong in this country instead of dealing with it you have some faction that goes off and place the blame game with races and religions.

My wish, heck my prayer for this country, is we stop and pause and use this time out of our control to better our country, to stop the hate.

Yes it’s a tall order. But we never seem to learn from our history how to deal with our mistakes. And among those that are the most grievous are racism and prejudice.

I’m far from perfect, you all are far from perfect. To be human is to be imperfect. But we just have to try to do better.

Please. We are stronger together than apart. And that is a big component of why things are so agitated right now. You have the whole economic fallout from coronavirus/COVID-19 and then there’s the emotional component. But we have to stay the course.

Pay it forward when you can. If you can’t just do your part and stay home. And try not to blame other races and nationalities for something that is beyond the world’s control at this point.

I wish you all peace this week.

it’s getting to me a little bit today

I’m going to admit that all this coronavirus/COVID-19 is getting to me a little bit today. I am grateful that I am safe and I have a home and my family is safe and well, but this is insane.

My one stepbrother lives in England. He and his wife are medical professionals. Their children are safe at home, but physicians and surgeons like nurses and other emergency personnel are on the front lines. I think of them all of the time. England has massive shortages of safety gear and other things…much like this country. I have childhood friends in other parts of Europe. I think of them a lot too. Our family is all safe thus far, and I am grateful for these blessings. But still it’s hard some days.

I have greatly reduced my news watching. It’s stressful and often contradictory. And when news conferences that are supposed to be about how we as a country are faring but keep turning into little political pimping moments it’s even MORE depressing. And scary. We need our government to lead and the dictatorship imitations complete with propaganda is too much.

And it’s like death is all around us. My friend’s mother passed away from COVID19 away from her family alone in a nursing home. And the stories on the news of nursing homes not reporting virus cases and also not telling relatives of residents what is going on.

Where has our humanity gone? Some days I wonder.

And a couple of weeks ago a friend from high school died. Not from COVID19 but because of COVID19, no service.

And then there are the people who every day want to tell whomever will listen that coronavirus isn’t really happening. That it’s just government trying to control us. That’s crazy town.

Friends who have to go out are almost having panic attacks. This virus, this life we are living is anything but normal. Many I know have lost their jobs. And with layoffs comes COBRA healthcare pricing. We are all worried about money if we’re honest aren’t we?

And then there are my friends who are alone. People used to being alone, but the isolation caused by trying to fight this virus together apart gets hard. It’s hard for my little family unit and we are definitely homebodies. We all just miss our people. Friends, family, co-workers, business owners of businesses we all patronize. We just miss our lives.

So I swear I heard my late father’s voice today. He said “this too shall pass.” He used to say that.

So yes, this too shall pass. And in the meantime we will all keep on keeping on. Together. Apart.

Stay well. Stay home. Thanks for stopping by.

who has seen the wind?

Who Has Seen the Wind?
BY CHRISTINA ROSSETTI

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by

thoughts and a message of hope…from england

I have been watching less and less of the news. It’s a repeating loop of Coronavirus on steroids. Often we are not learning anything new, it is just a constant repeating of the horror the world is going through. But I think the biggest problem I have with this whole global pandemic and how it affects us here in the U.S. is what comes out of the White House.

That man we call President is not Presidential. I was even reminded of that last night when I watched a PBS special on the Roosevelts.

A couple of weeks ago I called my mother and she shooed me off the phone almost immediately. “The President is speaking . I can’t talk now.” But honestly, what is he saying? He spent weeks not really taking this whole #COVID-19 thing seriously. Then all of a sudden he says it’s a pandemic and he thought so all along. Then he works something in about campaigns and his administration. Then everything will be open by Easter, then everyone wear masks but he won’t. Then he talks about how many people are going to die from this virus. Then he talks over the medical experts at his press conferences annoyed that people are asking the actual medical professionals questions. “Didn’t I just answer that question?” (paraphrased) he angrily shot at a reporter who had recently directed a question to Dr. Anthony Fauci at a press conference.

We need a national leader about now. Trump isn’t leading. He’s an angry man child embodiment of chronic contradictions and a stunning lack of compassion and that brings no comfort. It makes me anxious. At first I was trying to watch the news conferences from Washington to look for information and leadership in a time of crisis. Coronavirus-time IS like war-time and we need a leader who gets it, who gets us as Americans. Not a quasi-dictatorial narcissistic man child who still blows up Twitter daily with his petty bulltwaddle and spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. Dude all of your Tweeting is bad for America.

Good thing there are people in this country like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He leads, he is authentic, and he is living this right along with everyone. That is actually comforting to me because my sister and her family as well as my stepbrother live in New York City. I have to tell you closer to home, I find the Philadelphia and surrounding counties news conferences and New Jersey’s news conferences make more sense.

And then there are people with their Marie Antoinette attitudes of let them eat cake. Like the guy in North Jersey who defied stay at home and social distancing orders and threw a giant Coronavirus booze fest party. He’s apparently now being charged for doing so. Good. And don’t forget the kids in the Pittsburgh area who had to have a giant blowout and where are their parents?

It’s like all of those whom suddenly define themselves as “constitutionalists” and why is government telling us what to do? That is simple: if we would all just stay the hell home they wouldn’t be telling us what to do. It’s like those who are all up in arms because churches are closed. Large gatherings spread viruses. Hello? The actual history of the 1918 influenza pandemic as an example? God does not expect us to die for him from coronavirus. Many churches are live-streaming and isn’t God or whomever you may believe in all around us? Ok maybe a theological conversation is too much for most on a Monday so we will leave this right there.

But it is because of all of this swirling crap that I have taken to tuning out the news and staying put and working in the garden more. Whether we want to or not, the fates have decided we are slowing down. (Apparently I am not the only one gardening article about victory gardens in The Philadelphia Inquirer today.)

But there is one leader who may God bless and keep her who is truly leading. Queen Elizabeth II of England. She gave her subjects comfort and hope in a time of crisis. She also gave the rest of the world comfort and hope. No angry tweeting about fake news and newspapers that have done her wrong. Talking to the people and offering support and comfort.

BBC News: Coronavirus: The Queen’s message seen by 24 million

About 24 million TV viewers watched the Queen’s broadcast to the nation on Sunday, according to overnight figures.
In a rare speech, the monarch thanked people for following government rules to stay at home and praised those “coming together to help others”.
The message was seen by 23.97 million viewers, making it the second most-watched broadcast this year….It was only the fifth time the Queen has given such a speech in her 68-year reign.
Her most recent Christmas Day message drew a combined overnight audience of 7.85 million.
In her speech on Sunday, the Queen said the UK “will succeed” in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
She thanked people for following government rules to stay inside and paid tribute to key workers for their efforts.
Speaking from Windsor Castle, the Queen said the pandemic was a “different” challenge compared to what the nation had faced before.
The message ended with the words “we will meet again” – an apparent reference to Dame Vera Lynn’s bolstering war anthem We’ll Meet Again.
The Queen’s four other special addresses were given in 1991, 1997, 2002 and 2012.

It was truly a beautiful thing to listen to her speak in this time. Say what you want about her and sometimes people criticize Queen Elizabeth but she knows how to lead in times of crisis. And it was just so good to hear a message that was realistic yet not full of gloom and doom. It was also good to hear a message that wasn’t all about them.

We will get through this. And it will take its toll. I hope we all get through unscathed but really it’s beyond our control at this point. We can only do our part and stay home. And if you have extra supplies to donate to first responders contact your local firehouse or hospital.

This weird time is giving us time to meaningfully connect with each other if we can stop and see the good in that. I also know it’s frustrating and scary. It makes you nervous. Trust me, I have felt all of those things. Especially because of the bombardment of so much news and the contradictory behavior coming out of Washington D.C.

One day at a time I think is the only way to handle the hot mess of Coronavirus. Yes much like a 12 step program, one day at a time. I will close with a quote from Teddy Roosevelt:

Rhetoric is a poor substitute for action, and we have trusted only to rhetoric. If we are really to be a great nation, we must not merely talk; we must act big.

#StayHome

from roast chicken to chicken soup

The other night we had a roast chicken. I hung onto the carcass and threw it into the instant pot yesterday and made bone broth from it.

This morning I got out the broth, removed the fat, and added the rest of the chicken that was left over to it and set that container to the side while I prepped the vegetables.

I chopped up one of the remaining onions that I have and threw it into the soup pot with a little bit of olive oil. To that I added a bunch of diced celery, and a small bunch of sliced up carrots, and some fresh new potatoes. I added a little salt and started to cook the vegetables down.

As the vegetables started to cook down I added a chopped bunch of mixed kale and baby bok choy and some other greens that had come in a farm box. To that I added a can of white cannellini beans.

Then I added the broth and the bits of chicken and a bouquet garni of fresh herbs from the garden. The chicken soup simmered away for a few hours and now it’s cooling to be eaten later in the week.

rabbit, rabbit it’s april fools’ day…and?

According to a New York Times newsletter this morning:

As many as 240,000 Americans could die during the coronavirus pandemic, top health officials said on Tuesday, despite the measures that have closed schools, limited travel and forced people to stay home.

That’s pretty god damn depressing, but is it surprising? It’s shocking but a lot of people aren’t taking this seriously. Even when we can get into the overtaxed grocery stores, it’s amazing that so many people still aren’t practicing social distancing.

And then there are all of the photos popping up on social media of people dropping plastic gloves all over the place. If you are done with them, can’t you keep a small trash bag in your car if you don’t see them and bring them home and dispose of them?

And the whole grocery store nightmare of why can’t we really find chicken, paper towels, and toilet paper yet? Are people going out every day and just hoarding it all?

There is this dichotomy out there of selfish vs. selfless. Psychologically and sociologically it’s equal parts sad and fascinating. Human nature on steroids. Heart warming or horrifying there seems to be little middle ground. More extremes than ever.

I am also amazed at how those who are generally speaking toxic on social media who are seemingly reveling in their toxicity. Or just giving people a generally speaking, a hard time. And why? Are they that unhappy? Or just oblivious?

I have actually had to remove people from this blog’s Facebook page and I don’t actually have to do that very often. People are spending SO much time online and I like many page admins can’t just sit and babysit 24/7. You give people fair warning and after a point you just have to give them a time out because they won’t do it for themselves.

And the stay at home of it all is bringing out strange behavior in many more people than normal. Humans are social creatures and some have never learned it is actually ok to be by ourselves for a while. It is. Is it ideal? No , but look at the alternatives and be grateful if you have a safe comfortable place to be.

Chester County’s Coronavirus cases are climbing. It’s kind of scary the way this stuff spreads so fast. But if people were actually staying home most of the time it wouldn’t. I had a friend of mine elsewhere ( NOT Chester County) tell me about a neighbor of hers who just keeps going in and out and in and out. She said nobody could buy that much food she doesn’t know where the woman is going and she doesn’t seem to take it very seriously what’s going on. My friend’s neighbor doesn’t work, her husband does, so she’s just one of those people that’s wandering around instead of staying home.

I don’t actually mind being home it’s just weird not seeing my family and friends. Today I FaceTimed my mother and stepfather and gave them a virtual tour of my garden.

Last night I roasted a chicken which was very exciting because we had randomly found one at the supermarket because whole chickens are hard to come by. It was just an old-school old-fashioned simple dinner of a salad, potatoes, and a roast chicken and it was like a five star Michelin meal tasted so good to us. And I made my friend Raffi’s late mother’s no bake cheesecake for dessert.

I gardened a lot today and that felt so good to just be outside. Of course now I feel slightly crippled. I have been trying to stick to specific parameters and time gardening each time I garden because of my latest knee surgery at the end of December. But today I got carried away and I just felt good to be outside and may have overdone it a little.

Well that is all I have got for you guys today. But for the Grace of God go all of us. I know our new normal is anything but normal, but please have faith and stay the course of staying home and social distancing. Take good care.

soothing photos

I’m asking those who love the sea to join the challenge of posting a picture of a beach. Just a picture, no description. The goal is to flood Facebook especially with some positive photos instead of negativity. Please copy the text to your Facebook (or Instagram) timeline, put a picture up and look at some beautiful pictures.

DISCLAIMER photographing the ocean and beaches and sea birds are among my favorite things. So I can’t pick just one photo I am giving you a montage of photos taken either in the Hamptons or Bermuda.

stepping back in time in chester county

A lady posted a bunch of amazing photos in a local Facebook group with the following message: “I still have a couple containers of old photos to go through. Any of these folks or places look familiar to you? This album dates back to the late 30s and 40s”

With her permission I am posting the photos here. They are all of the Malvern and possibly Phoenixville area. If you know any of the people in the photos or where the homes are located, please leave a comment.

A lot of the photos are of soldiers from World War II which I find particularly poignant. It makes you wonder who came home, doesn’t it?

The irony is the era some of these photos were taken was another time when we were doing our part for our country and staying home and growing victory gardens and living through rationing.

Anyway I hope you can help identify some of these people! I thought it would be something fun for people to do in times where it’s not so much fun during the day sometimes.

Be well.