The Darkening Sky

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Today, January 6, 2021, has become a dark day in the history of the United States, one I never anticipated experiencing. Today, hoards of white supremacists stormed the capitol building in DC, seemingly with the advice and consent of President Donald John Trump, the 45th president of the United States. According to the media, there were over 30,000 of his ardent supporters who assaulted the Senate and House, breaking windows and swarming over the barriers and walls. This transpired because Trump does not want to go quietly, as the outgoing president is expected to do, but he wants to fight on in spite of numerous lost court battles, with the electoral votes certified by every state and as the Republicans have lost control of the Senate in the Georgia runoff elections, taking Mitch McConnell out as the majority leader.

The Representatives and Senators had to be sent into hiding for their protection.

What Happens in the Past

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Oft Does Not Remain There

We are frequently admonished to not dwell on what has happened in the past as we cannot change it and to not let any such events impact our lives going forward. Since we, each part and parcel of our beings, are the aggregate of all that has occurred throughout our known existence, the past cannot be escaped nor ignored. Indeed, some believe that the influence extends even further back than that cliched spark in our father’s eye. Regardless of the origin of the guidance, the bygone days and all attendant happenings in the human sphere of being cannot help but leave their mark.

Mercury in Retrograde:

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The Beginning or the Ending

It is 12:17 am on November 3, 2020, the ending of the most recent Mercury in retrograde. All in all, the year 2020 has been a time of great trials in many arenas. Wildfires, torrential rains and floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, drought, heat, terrorism, and of course, COVID-19, aka the coronavirus or, in some bastions of intolerance, the China virus. As if 2020 has not been challenging enough, the United States, or the term I frequently use– the Untied States of America, is in the midst of possibly the most difficult and dangerous time it has faced as a nation in many generations.

The Struggles and Perils of a New Year

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Hello 2021

It’s been far too long since the last post. January of the new year has come and gone, and February has reached its middle age. Punxsutawney Phil, the little scoundrel whose den is located in Punxsutawney, PA, opted to foretell the continuation of winter on Groundhog Day. Whether fair or not to blame him, the cold season shows no sign of disappearing for good anytime soon. Just ask Texas.

December of 2020 ended with the headache, fever, cough, and aches of the COVID-19 virus–oh, and the lack of being able to taste or smell the traditional pork and sauerkraut of New Year’s Day, the definitive telltale sign of the viral infection. Thankfully, our experience with the virus was a relatively mild one, and if we hadn’t lost our ability to smell literally everything, we might have suspected we had contracted a seasonal flu. My positive test result basically sealed the deal, too. After a few weeks, we felt more or less normal again, or as normal as we ever do. Those of you who know us will understand; others, it doesn’t matter whether you get it or not. Finally, my sense of taste and ability to smell all manner of odors, both good and bad, has returned, for the most part.

We didn’t make it out of January unscathed even after defeating the virus. My mother-in-law, who has resided in a nursing facility for the past few years, was diagnosed with the COVID-19. She was moved from her usual room, along with her roommate who also tested positive. That lasted a few days until the staff decided there was little point in keeping the separation since she showed no symptoms. They also were not sure the positive result might just be due to the vaccine she received. That reprieve lasted all too briefly, as she soon had a devastating stroke and was transferred to the local hospital where there was doubt she would survive. She did live and then was taken back to the home within a few days, unable to speak and barely able to swallow. For a time, Mom started to show signs of recovery, but she only lived about ten days altogether before passing away on January 30, 2021. She is already missed so much.
https://www.sungazette.com/obituaries/2021/02/joy-grafius/

While there is cause for sadness, there is also relief. Those of us who had the virus in our immediate circle have recovered; some other family members have even been able to get or schedule their first dose of the new vaccine. We can all rest a bit easier knowing that, while it hasn’t totally given up, winter is getting closer to leaving and spring to arriving. The snow will melt, the grass will grow, and the birds will return from the south.

And–we have a new president!!!!

A Slightly Merry and Very Wet Christmas

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It is shortly after midnight December 25, 2020. After a record snowstorm here of 24.7 inches last week on Wednesday into Thursday, central Pennsylvania is now experiencing warmer temperatures and day long rain, leading to mild to moderate flooding in the area. Of course, it is only mild or moderate if you are not in the path of the water. The other factor pending is the temperature. Right now, it is 47 degrees, a relatively warm start to Christmas day. However, in true 2020 fashion, the high is to be 37 degrees today and the low 19, and Saturday will be even chillier.

Here’s hoping for a stellar 2021! A year where the COVID-19 pandemic becomes relegated to history even as we remembe and mourn those who were its victims, where Donald J. Trump is resigned to the garbage heap he deserves along with his complicit family, friends, and the weak Republicans who allowed him to run roughshod over the United States and ruin its reputation across the world, and where compassion, empathy, and peace become the new watchwords and behaviors the world so desperately needs.

Blessings to all and fervent wishes for a wonderful life ahead.

Such a Year!

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It is now December, the start of the Christmas season, and the last month of an incredibly long and difficult year. A year full of more trials than successes, more pain than joy, and so much fear and anxiety, 2020 has been a year that no one could have imagined outside of a novel or a horror movie. Every day, some of us worry that we will hear a loved family member or a dear friend has tested positive for COVID-19, aka a novel coronavirus. An off day becomes a day of terror, full of fear that one will suddenly lose the senses of smell and taste followed by a slight difficulty in breathing. A cough is no longer an allergy but a harbinger of worse to come. Every day, more cases are registered, more people are hospitalized, and more deaths are reported.

One very frustrating point is that many people still slough off the warnings as a complete and utter hoax. “It’s no big deal, no worse than the flu.” “I only had a little cough and a slight headache.” “I tested positive but never had any symptoms.” Yes, it’s all a little inconvenience until one can’t breath, goes to the hospital, is admitted into the ICU, and needs a ventilator, a machine that breathes for the patient who is struggling to take in air through COVID-damaged lungs and allows the body to rest and heal. Some need the help for a few days, others perhaps for weeks. However long the process, it won’t be pleasant, and the patient is sedated and alone, leaving family members to worry whether they will ever see their loved one alive again. Most do, but many have not.

Fathers, mothers, siblings, aunts, uncles, husbands, wives, so many have succumbed to the virus, with loved ones left behind to grieve for the rest of their years. Some families have lost multiple members, some both mothers and fathers, leaving younger orphaned children behind to mourn. Most people have at least heard of someone who has tested positive or has gotten somewhat ill. Others know of friends that tell about family who have been admitted to the hospital, and some weep for those who have passed alone in nursing homes.

Today, December 3, 2020, there were 210,161 new cases reported and 2,706 deaths, with over 100,000 patients currently hospitalized in the United States. Each one of those numbers is someone’s mother, father, spouse, or child, and according to Johns Hopkins University, “the U.S. death toll currently stands at 275,550.”*

Don’t become one of the statistics. Follow the CDC guidelines and do your best to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Distance and isolate this holiday season so you can celebrate together in the future.

*Stats from https://abcnews.go.com/Health/live-updates/coronavirus/?id=74456908

Haunted by the Past

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I am reminded of a quotation by William Shakespeare in his play “Julius Caesar” when I consider the many errors in judgement and behaviors I have made throughout my life: “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is often interred with their bones.”

As a mother, I made numerous mistakes and was frequently a impatient person. Sometimes, perhaps often, my verbal behavior was abusive and, more often than not, directed at one particular child at a given time. Generally, it was not the child I was angry with; I misdirected my feelings toward the innocent rather than those who should have been the recipient of my angst. I have no excuse for this and will never be able to make amends for it. I have caused damage to those I injured, as harm was inflicted on me as a child as well.

I believe this is why my children have chosen not to add to the population, a fact I used to lament but one I fully understand now. They have chosen to break the abuse cycle by not becoming parents themselves. I do regret that they have likewise opted not to experience the joys that are also part and parcel of parenthood though. While I acknowledge that I caused much harm, I also felt much joy and gave them much love as I watched each stage they went through from infancy to adulthood. In spite of my enormous and numerous failings, they became caring and amazing adults in their own lives. I do not take credit for this. This they did on their own despite me.

I love them very much, and I am so proud of them. Have they made mistakes that I do not take blame for? Yes, I am fairly sure they have, but they carry on and become better persons for their errors. I hope that they do remember some of the good experiences in our family as well as the bad. I do not want my legacy to consist of all negative emotions.

Summer Heat and Showers

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The heat continues with only slight moderations by day, although it was pleasant enough last evening after dark to sit in the backyard and search the sky for the elusive Persiads. After 9:30, the clouds were still sparse enough to see many stars, the bright planet in the southern sky (sky charts are really confusing to read so I cannot name it), and the multitude of airplanes high in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, I chose to pop inside for a brief time to grab my camera and missed the one that Joe spotted right after I went in the door. On another note, it is also challenging to take clear photos of plants in the dark because focusing the camera is not easy, at least for me. I did get some nice moonflower images though.

The sky clouded over before eleven when the best of the meteor shower was to be visible, and then it rained. While the shower of water, such as appeared, was definitely welcome for the plants, the accompanying clouds obscured the shower I really hoped to view. Here’s to a clear sky tonight!

Still Meandering

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The more I wander, the more lost I feel. Or, perhaps I do not wander enough. Stuck in a rut of my own design, I remain enmeshed in unproductive musings, unable to pull it together and rise above the swamp of despair.

Some things evidently do not remedy themselves easily. This post was a draft from March 24, 2020.

Summer Doldrums

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A general feeling of malaise from the COVID-19 stressors is being compounded by a renewed sense of loss. For some inexplicable reason, I have experienced enhanced sadness recently as I remember persons who were part of my life, some for many years, but who are no longer living. As the fourth anniversary of my mother’s passing approaches, recalling those others who played an important role in my life is sending me to a low point that is not healthy or desirable.

Many were close to my current age when I lost them, and that in itself might be adding to my distress. Since Mom died, I have been increasingly aware of my shortening time even though she lived many years past where I am now. Is this just grief still surfacing, compounded by the constant stress of living with the uncertainties of the effects of the novel coronavirus, or the familiar fear of the inevitable that we all must face?

Given it is August and this summer has been very unsettling, I really need to refocus and try to get myself back together before fall, and the usual seasonal affective disorder, lands with both feet.