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05
When I was young I would count the scars on the back of my mother's hands. They were less than an inch long, slightly raised, and paler in color than her skin, almost translucent. Counting them was like trying to count pennies in a closed jar. It was 1954 when nineteen-year-old Arline Leibowitz packed a bag and left her parents and three siblings behind in their Long Island home. She moved into a dorm at Brooklyn Jewish Hospital to pursue her dream. She was a beautiful woman with a radiant smile and bright blue eyes and donned the requisite nurse's uniform with the pride of an optimistic and oft-times idealistic young woman on her own for the first time. Think a post-war country steeped equally in euphoria and agony. Think Florence Nightingale. The uniform was white--white shoes and thick white stockings--the skirt form-fitting, and the nursing cap stiff and fitted to keep her hair in place and to add to the modesty the profession was meant to evoke. Almost seventy years lat......

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03
The first "meal" I learned to cook was cinnamon toast. It was the late 1960s and I was five or six years old. I loved to watch a PBS program called "Zoom". I wasn't much of a "Sesame Street" kid, I liked "Electric Company", but I grooved with "Zoom". I don't recall much about the show except I enjoyed the how-to demonstrations. I would become mesmerized, intent on whatever was being taught--how-to fold clothes, how-to make your bed, how-to brush your dog... Of course, I'm making all of these how-tos up now because I have scant memory of "Zoom" other than I liked it and learned how to make cinnamon toast while watching it.  I used to pretend I was on the show. I started each "episode" singing the theme song. "C'mon and zooma-zooma-zooma-zoom, we know you want to give it a try, yadda-yadda-yadda-that's why...". Okay, I don't recall the words, but the melody is clear in my head. I think. Perhaps "Zoom" was the start of my fantasy life. Not that kind of fantasy, but the one where I ......

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31
Each morning when mom gets up she asks, "are we still on lock down?" Sometimes she calls it "lock up" but the reference to being imprisoned is the same.  I slip the vanilla flavored coffee pod into the Keurig, listen to the coffee maker slurp and gurgle, and anticipate her next question. Each morning pretty much starts the same. I get up first, mom soon follows. She asks me to put on the news. I start her coffee. The brown liquid streams into her favorite mug, the one that says "I'm a Dog Person" on it. A puff of steam rises. I think how I like the smell but not the taste of coffee. Mom always told me I should learn to drink a cup of coffee each morning. One day I finally asked her why the insistence on my having a morning cup of Joe. Turns out she was only interested in my being "regular". I add a packet of sweet 'n low and pour in enough vanilla creamer to turn the liquid the color of a tortilla. I bring the mug to her. She takes a sip. "Delicious."   Everything tas......

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29
The world is definitely coming to an end. I cleaned my apartment. Not quick swipes to get the dust bunnies to hop away, or lame wipes of counter tops, but an all out, full assault, top to bottom cleaning. I would say I'm not sure what came over me to undertake the one thing I don't like to do, but I know what is responible and its name is Covid-19. Some call it Coronavirus. Others, The Novel Coronavirus. I call it that bleepity-bleep. Glory has been cleaning my home for over two decades. She cleans mom's apartment at her ALF too. Well, she used to. Since the bleepity-bleep has befallen us and mom is staying with me, I cannot allow anyone in my home. This includes Glory. Wipe those crocodile tears. I know this is a first world problem but I work hard and I don't like to clean. Glory has been a mainstay in my life for over twenty years. I watched her raise her son. I helped her study for the U.S. citizens test. I've heard about her trips home to Colombia. I've watched her exp......

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28
When I had cancer, my cancer coach Sandy gave me a plaque. It was a list of all the things cancer could not do. I've kept it tucked in the back of a bathroom cabinet and have taken it out to share with those touched by cancer, hoping to inspire and encourage as Sandy had done for me, and then tucking it back in the cabinet. I've taken it out again. Substituting Covid-19 for Cancer is a no-brainer.  What Covid-19 Cannot Do Covid-19 is so limited… It cannot cripple Love It cannot shatter Hope It cannot corrode Faith It cannot destroy Peace It cannot kill Friendship It cannot suppress Memories It cannot silence Courage It cannot invade the Soul It cannot steal eternal Life It cannot conquer the Spirit.                         Author Unknown This post is dedicated to Sandy Paster and to Sue Seltzer, my cancer coach and my friend who valiantl......

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24
Day 1 of self-quarantine: Morning temperatures. Mom: 98.3. Me: 97.9. A fever is one indication of coronavirus, although a person can have the virus without a fever. I take mine and mom's temperatures at least once per day. Mom puts on a show like I'm annoying her but there's a twinkle in her beautiful blue eyes that tells her truth.  A lot of people I know are employing this simple technique to try and get ahead of the virus. While coronavirus remains very much a mystery as to how it attacks, when and whom it infects, and how it shows itself (if at all), taking our temperatures daily is something easy to do and, at least for me, makes me feel proactive. Knowing that mom and I don't have temperatures makes me feel a little bit less helpless and eases the burdens of the day.  Day 4: Mom: 98.2. Me: 98.1. My friend called to say a co-worker has the virus. Take your temperature, I barked. I don't have a thermometer, she said and explained she had tried to get one from a store,......

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23
Last night it was announced New Zealand will be closing within the next forty-eight hours. My nephew lives there and I haven't seen him in over eighteen months. My sister and I were planning on visiting him, or perhaps meeting him and his girlfriend in the U.K., in June. Obviously that is off, which makes me sad. But somehow knowing he cannot leave NZ and no one is allowed in feels devastating. The adage "distance makes the heart grow fonder" can pound sand. Family that once were accessible by car or plane might as well live on Mars. Friends and co-workers that we'd see regularly are now literally out of reach.  I think the news of NZ closing hits me particularly hard because I feel helpless. If my nephew were to need me, or his mother and father, we couldn't get to him. We certainly couldn't get him home. I have to remind myself that he's twenty-six years old. Post-college he has lived in China and Vietnam and is obviously a courageous, industrious and self-supporting man. "I'l......

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21
On March 14th at 5:00 in the morning, after a sleepless night filled with a pit of foreboding in my stomach and with a fog of war creating a haze around the planet, I walked into my mother's assistant living facility. The afternoon before the governor had issued an order forbidding family members from visiting their loved ones at nursing homes for thirty days. Two days earlier I asked mom if she wanted to come home with me. She said no, she had friends there, she loved her apartment, they had activities and, besides, her ALF had the best chocolate ice cream. But on that Saturday morning, with the possibility of the governor's order already being enforced, I went on a reconnaissance mission to retrieve my Holy Grail. I wore sweat pants, a raggedy tank top, and flip flops. I was dressed in all black. No camo makeup. I parked in the near empty lot, glad barriers hadn't been erected to keep out family members. The Florida humidity hit me as I jumped out of my car. The flip and flop of my ......

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20
While I'm still reading about our presidents (I'm on Lincoln #16), I am taking a break from blogging about my presidents project to concentrate on this strange and surreal time in our lives. Ironically, I began my project to try and discern how the past influences the present and what we can learn from the past to better our present. Now, the answer is more obvious than ever. The Third Amendment to the United States Constitution states: No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in manner to be prescribed by law. The Bill of Rights was written by James Madison (#5) in response to British soldiers quartering themselves wherever they pleased. It was ratified by the States in 1791 and is relevant today. Not because soldiers are going to be knocking on our doors, but because Madison was prescient in acknowledging the need to balance war and peacetime directives. During war, the government can order hom......

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19
I remember the reporter's words distinctly. It was only a couple of weeks ago but feels much longer. This will touch all of us, he said. Before this is over, we will all know someone infected with the virus. You might get it yourself. You will know someone who knows someone who dies from it. Perhaps it will take someone you love.  It started as the reality of others. In this case: the people of Wuhan, China. It traveled like a speeding train across Asia and to Europe and still felt like a news item. Something distressing and disturbing that came across our TV screens or smart phones. Then, Italy shut down. Flights were cancelled. Cruise lines were stranded. The train was gaining speed. A nursing home outside of Seattle became America's ground zero. People who worked at Port Everglades, a mile from my home, were infected. The train was growing larger and stronger, a brawny and obstinate intercontinental express. Experts warned it was going to be bad but still, somehow, the people ......

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