CORONAVIRUS DIARY: October 1, 2020

October 1, 2020

Still wearing the mask…is it hiding my tears?

L’Shanah Tovah! The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement are now in the rearview mirror. I wish everyone who celebrated a sweet new year. God knows we need it.

I have pretty much written off 2020 – save for a November miracle and the hope of a new President. I have always been an optimist but this year has just beaten me down. I can’t bury my head in the sand and the news is just so awful day after day. I actually signed up for this “Morning Smile” email that comes every day but Sunday. It’s free, they share good news stories and I need to know that there is good news out there. And lots of great videos, too. Check out their Good News Dashboard to see what I mean.

My hair is a wreck. I’ve been doing my own color so I don’t have to face the grays, but the crap I am able to buy, even the supposedly best hair color for home use out there, is still on the harsh side and just not wonderful. I haven’t had a hair cut since maybe January? Or a manicure. Or a pedicure. My niece is selling this stick on Colorstreet polish, which is the only thing saving me! It is so easy to use I couldn’t believe it. I think it took me all of ten minutes to do my nails and feel somewhat like myself again. Don’t look too closely at my raggedy cuticles though!

Has this been enough of a whine-fest yet? I am feeling the strain for sure. My son and daughter-in-law bought their first home, a co-op in Downtown Brooklyn, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to see it. But they are both doing well so I am happy about that.

My daughter is taking classes at Lynn University, where I work. They gave students the choice of face-to-face classes or remote, and she chose remote. She is a visual arts major, and the work she has been doing is just amazing. I had no idea my child was that talented! She showed me this drawing in progress and I immediately knew who it was. Just blew me away. The finished drawing here was done in pencil. She loves photography, too and she has long been my photographer – I always know the picture will come out good if she takes it.

Lynn University has moved from a 16-week semester to 4 4-week semesters and let me tell you, it is moving fast. What that means for me is that I have to do new schedules for my 18 student workers every 4 weeks. It feels like I finally get it working perfectly and it’s time to change again. I am very grateful that my new students are doing so well. In the olden days, pre-pandemic, I would typically lose about half my student workers to graduation. But because of Covid, I only ended up with three returning students, which meant I had to hire and train fifteen new student workers during a pandemic. They have been phenomenal and I couldn’t be happier with them. I did training with them on Zoom for a couple of hours but let me tell you, it is a lot of information to take in. And they didn’t know enough to even ask questions. From Zoom training they were thrown right into the fire, working the Information Desk often alone, or with a librarian nearby. Mistakes have been made but that is certainly to be expected. Best of all, they are learning from their mistakes and learning by doing. It hasn’t been easy, that’s for sure, but they are all stepping up and I am proud of them.

We have done take out for dinner a few times during the past seven months. Pizza at first, because we figure it is cooked at insanely high temperatures, sure to kill any germs hovering nearby. We had Chinese food one night, and Five Guys another. Now our idiot governor is opening everything up so guess our numbers will be going up. If I could, I’d dig a hole, jump in it, and drag the hole in after me.

Meanwhile, I am still enjoying cooking and trying new recipes. I made a leg of lamb for the first time in my life! My friend Judy told me how to grill it, and I combined that with Sam Sifton’s recipe at the NY Times Cooking and it came out so good, my whole family loved it. Plus there are enough leftovers for at least two more meals – gyros tonight! I made challah for Rosh Hashanah, and Ariel braided it for me. It was almost too pretty to eat. I’ve cut back on baking because I really have gained the Covid-19 (pounds, that is) and I am trying to lose it. It is very slow going. If I didn’t have my family, my cat, my books, and cooking, I would not have made it through. I did make an Apple Bourbon Bundt Cake, (thanks, Melissa Clark!) also for Rosh Hashanah, and everyone loved it. Plus I got to use my new Bundt pan! I made a sugar-free Italian Ricotta Cheesecake for breaking the fast on Yom Kippur that was surprisingly good. I used Buddy Valastro‘s recipe (the Cake Boss) just subbing erythritol for the sugar. Get well soon, Buddy!

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe!


Cover Reveal! THE NEWCOMER by Mary Kay Andrews

September 10, 2020

CLICK COVER TO PRE-ORDER!

New from the New York Times bestselling author and Queen of the Beach Reads, Mary Kay Andrews

The New York Times bestselling author and Queen of the Beach Reads delivers her next page-turner for the summer.

Letty Carnahan is in trouble. She’s on the run from New York City; she has her four-year-old niece, Maya in tow, and her sister was found dead in the entry hall of her glamorous townhome. Letty believes she knows who did it: her sister’s awful, money-grubbing ex-husband, Eli Wingfield.

Letty can’t forget her sister Tara’s insistence: “if anything bad ever happens to me–It’s Eli. Promise me you’ll take Maya and run. Promise me.”

But run where? The only clue Tara has left behind is a faded magazine story about a sleepy mom-and-pop motel on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Certain that the police and Tara’s ex are hot on her trail, Letty leaves her own life behind without a backwards glance, knowing she will somehow get justice for Tara, and sets out for her destination–The Murmuring Surf.

The Surf, as regulars call it, is the winter home of a close-knit but quarrelsome group of retirees and snowbirds who regard this newcomer and her adorable niece with suspicion and more than a little curiosity. There’s a No Vacancy sign swinging from the neon motel marquee, but the motel’s longtime owner Ava DeCurtis takes Letty in, offers her a room and eventually a job, much to the disapproval of Ava’s cynical son Joe, a local police detective whose every instinct tells him that Letty is a dangerous fugitive, possibly even a kidnapper and murderer.

As Letty tries to settle into her new life and help heal Maya’s trauma, she’s preoccupied as her late sister’s troubled past and connection to the motel are revealed, all while trying to deal with the attractive detective’s unwelcome advances. Is Joe a would-be suitor? Or a cop determined to betray her confidence and put her behind bars?

Pre-order: https://amzn.to/32gdNK7

 


No contest this month

September 1, 2020

Normally, I run a monthly contest offering several autographed thrillers for one lucky winner.

The International Thriller Writers organization has served a very important purpose and worked hard to help its members in a myriad of ways, including sponsoring this contest for almost 15 years. As an avid thriller reader, I have been a strong supporter of the ITW almost since its inception. I am proud of all the authors I have championed. It has been a privilege to work with this amazing group of writers and introduce them to thousands of readers.

Over the past few weeks, some things surfaced that have caused significant changes in the organization. It is my understanding that the ITW is working hard to resolve these issues and regain the support of its members. Unfortunately, until there is more clarification, I am temporarily suspending this contest. I am confident that a positive outcome is on the horizon.

I will update as soon as more information is available. Thanks for your patience.


CORONAVIRUS DIARY: August 28, 2020

August 27, 2020

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, it’s back to work I go!

I am happy to report so far, so good. I am not back full time on campus, just three mornings a week. The rest of the time, I will continue to work remotely from home.

I must admit it felt very strange being back. It is also stressful. I haven’t left my home very often, so just driving, just being outside is sort of scary, but also sort of wonderful. I have always been a people person, and I’ve missed seeing other people for sure. But it is so hard not to hug my co-workers who I haven’t seen in person in six months!

I pretty much stay in my office most of my time there, but I do come out to help students or staff with whatever they need. The university installed big plexiglass shields at the desk. There were two of them, with about 8 inches between them. Don’t you know that everyone was sticking their face through the opening? We moved them, so they are much closer together now.

I have had students casually stroll into my office, or rather attempt to. I stop them before they get one foot through the doorway. My office is not large, and I guesstimate that it is about 6 feet or so from my desk to the door, so that is close enough.

I haven’t seen anyone not wearing a mask, thank goodness. Today I helped a student who was wearing a loosely fitted bandana. It was so loose she had to hold it in place. I wasn’t sure how much policing I am supposed to be doing, but my boss pointed out that she may not have known better. The university states implicitly that masks must be worn and further states no bandanas or gaiters are allowed. We do have disposable masks, so if I see her again, I will let her know the rules and offer her a mask.

I have missed the library so much! I missed my office and my two giant monitors – at home, I work on a small laptop. I open the library, so I get to come in during the morning quiet. I turn on all the lights, unlock the doors, and get ready to help whoever comes through. The first week was mostly directional help. There are classroom and/or building abbreviations that completely baffle students, with good reason! We have a handout with an explanation of all the abbreviations, which students really appreciate.

In early 2019, during the middle of our academic year, the American Psychological Association, APA, put out a new book with lots of changes in how papers are to be formatted. Most of the classes at the university use APA and it is the area librarians help with the most. Now that there is a new edition, all the students who were finally getting used to the 6th edition have to pivot to the 7th. We waited for the new school year to get started and now the fun begins! There is definitely going to be a learning curve, for me and the students.

 

Meanwhile, I really have to give Lynn University props for tackling the pandemic the way they have. They have bent over backward to make the campus as safe as possible. They installed HEPA air filtration systems. In addition to the excellent custodial staff, they contracted with a company to come through and disinfect the building multiple times a day. They changed the semester from 16 weeks to 4, 4-week block classes instead. And any class with more than 12 students is divided in half, with half going to class two days a week, and learning remotely the other two days, and vice versa. Most students take one or at most 2 classes per block, so that really limits the number of people they are coming in contact with.

They also contracted with CVS to set up a rapid testing site on campus. It may not be the most accurate test, but at least it is available quickly. We also have to do an online assessment every morning before coming to campus. Visitors pretty much have to jump through rings of fire to get on campus so we are not seeing anyone that doesn’t belong there.

Every department determined how best to utilize their staff on campus. A friend who works in one area of admissions is on campus one day a week. In the library, every librarian got to express their preferences and were scheduled as close to that as possible. We have a couple of librarians with young children who are starting school remotely, another with immune issues, a couple that are in the age bracket danger zone, and so forth. The end result is that there are only one or two librarians on campus at any time.

My chief responsibility is to hire and supervise student workers and run the circulation department. I had many students graduate in the spring, a few others who went home and are continuing class online, and so forth. So I had to hire a lot of new students, about 15 or so. That has been a process as we recently switched to new software that is not going as smoothly as one would have hoped. But we have an amazing IT department, and I know they will work it all out quickly. I have been training all my student workers on Zoom, another first for me, and that has not been without its hiccups. But I hired smart, engaging students and I have every confidence that they are going to be an asset to the library and the university.

I did a Zoom party last week so my new students could “meet” each other and some of the librarians. One of them told us while they hadn’t heard about any parties in the dorms, there had been parties, densely packed parties, off-campus with no masks. The university is being very tough about this and sent a “scary email,” as one of my students called it, to all the students on campus warning them off of partying and not wearing a mask.

All that said, as colleges around the country are starting back up, the news has been less than reassuring.

University Of Alabama Reports More Than 560 New COVID-19 Cases In 1st Week

University of Miami reports 141 tested positive for coronavirus

My college reopened. Now I’ve got COVID-19, along with nearly 500 other students. (University of Notre Dame)

Stop Campus Partying to Slow the Virus? Colleges Try but Often Fail

Tracking Coronavirus Cases at U.S. Colleges and Universities – 26,000+ Cases; 750+ Colleges

I am the first one to admit that were my 17-year-old self starting college today, I would be partying with the best of them. That age group thinks they are smarter than everyone else, especially their parents and teachers, and that they are untouchable, even immortal. “The rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so (University of Rochester Medical Center.)

I’m trying not to worry too much. My immediate concern is that I have gained the “Covid 19” and need to work on losing it! My husband has been really trying to get his blood sugar under control so to help him, I’ve cut back on the baking and the carbs, which is also good for me. I will not eat at work so I’m back to doing a modified fast at least three days a week! Let’s see if it works.

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe!


CORONAVIRUS DIARY: August 6, 2020

August 6, 2020

It’s Ariel’s birthday!

Ariel is my baby girl who has the nerve to turn 28 today! I don’t know how these things happen. I swear it was only last week that she was skipping off to kindergarten. When I was a kid, I thought it took forever for a new year to come. I remember my mom saying that the older she got, the faster the years flew by. I didn’t understand that back then, but I sure do now.

I feel so fortunate that she lives at home with us, especially now. If you have to be quarantined, it’s wonderful to have company, especially company that you love. Ariel is smart and funny and has such a big heart. I feel like I’ve learned to be more empathetic because of her example. She is also creative, a gifted musician, photographer, and writer, and she is a contributor to an award-winning website.

Ariel was my miracle baby after seven years of trying, and I am grateful every single day for her. I wish her a joyous birthday and a lifetime of love and happiness!

Me and my girl…

I asked Ariel what she wanted to do for her birthday. Seeing how cases have skyrocketed in South Florida (except for the “declining numbers” over the weekend due to the state being shut down because of Hurricane Isaias so no testing or reporting was done!) we were limited. She requested that I make her breakfast burritos and chocolate chip cookies. Then she asked if we could get takeout from one of our favorite restaurants, Big Bear Brewing Company. I was relieved to see that they have survived the pandemic, and now we are all excited about getting some great food that I didn’t cook! Okay, so maybe I’m the only one excited about not cooking.

I am gearing up to go back to campus as classes are set to begin on August 24. I am in the process of hiring several new student workers and trying to figure out how to train them from a distance. Because I have the world’s best boss, we are going to be staffed by only 1 or 2 librarians on campus at any time. That means that my students are going to be on the front line alone. I will be there a few mornings a week, and working from home the rest of the time. At least that is the plan. I may have to be there considerably more to get them all up to speed. I’m just wondering after wearing flip flops for five months, how am I going to wear shoes again??

My dental woes continue. I had another broken tooth and after the x-ray found the tooth behind it had what appeared to have some sort of issue. Off to the endodontist who did two root canals. Lucky me. Then back to the dentist so he can prepare the teeth for two new crowns. That will happen in a couple of weeks. On the bright side, I had a follow-up visit with the oral surgeon who said my bone graft took and looks good. He is ready to put in the implant but I am out of $$$ so we are putting it off until 2021 when my insurance starts back up again. Fun times.

Finally, I am getting more frightened by all the insanity that has already begun around the general election in November. It’s still going to be in November despite what the murderer-in-chief wants. My family already has our absentee ballots for the August primary, and we will be voting absentee in the general. This article in the Atlantic just freaked me out though:

How the 2020 Election Could Go Wrong: Where the System May Break
A war-game exercise simulating the 2020 election unmasked some key vulnerabilities.
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/07/how-2020-election-could-go-wrong/614842/?fbclid=IwAR2ItPgyauc8ZViuFY_BPqtqPSiiTABydwHjaKGG_NKmuPswFFwwErC-grk

The fact that we need war games to prepare for an election just sends chills down my spine. Please, please vote this November, however you can. If you’re not sure if you are registered or even if you are, double-check! People are mysteriously being removed from the voting rolls. You can find out for sure here: Vote Save America.

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe!


Cover Reveal! Lauren Willig’s BAND OF SISTERS

July 27, 2020

Click the cover to pre-order from Amazon

A group of young women from Smith College risk their lives in France at the height of World War I in this sweeping novel based on a true story—a skillful blend of Call the Midwife and The Alice Network—from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig.

A scholarship girl from Brooklyn, Kate Moran thought she found a place among Smith’s Mayflower descendants, only to have her illusions dashed the summer after graduation. When charismatic alumna Betsy Rutherford delivers a rousing speech at the Smith College Club in April of 1917, looking for volunteers to help French civilians decimated by the German war machine, Kate is too busy earning her living to even think of taking up the call. But when her former best friend Emmeline Van Alden reaches out and begs her to take the place of a girl who had to drop out, Kate reluctantly agrees to join the new Smith College Relief Unit.

Four months later, Kate and seventeen other Smithies, including two trailblazing female doctors, set sail for France. The volunteers are armed with money, supplies, and good intentions—all of which immediately go astray. The chateau that was to be their headquarters is a half-burnt ruin. The villagers they meet are in desperate straits: women and children huddling in damp cellars, their crops destroyed and their wells poisoned.

Despite constant shelling from the Germans, French bureaucracy, and the threat of being ousted by the British army, the Smith volunteers bring welcome aid—and hope—to the region. But can they survive their own differences? As they cope with the hardships and terrors of the war, Kate and her colleagues find themselves navigating old rivalries and new betrayals which threaten the very existence of the Unit.

With the Germans threatening to break through the lines, can the Smith Unit pull together and be truly a band of sisters?

Pre-order: https://www.harpercollins.com/products/band-of-sisters-lauren-willig


CORONAVIRUS DIARY: July15, 2020

July 15, 2020

Tax Day Edition!

I was so happy to have this extension as we owed Uncle Sam quite a bit this year. I am very lucky that one of the benefits of my job at Lynn University is free tuition, not just for me but for my family. My daughter has her Associates’s degree, but now she is moving towards her Bachelor’s degree. But slipped into the trump tax bill that benefited all his rich friends was that “free” tuition is now counted as income. So while she’s taking classes, my income jumps by thousands of dollars, which is then deducted to pay for tuition. But I get the tax bill. And it’s large, people. It might even be cheaper to send her to a state school. But she is so happy at Lynn, and wanted to go back to school because she feels so welcome and safe there. Best of all, she knows the professors and really all the staff are there to help her succeed. That is worth any bill.

So to cheer myself up as my bank account empties, I look at pictures of Loki. He is 11 years old now and still the sweetest boy ever. He has adjusted to everyone being home all the time. He still needs his 18 hours of sleep, but now he wanders in to see what’s going on now and then before going back to bed. My bed! Here are some pictures of how Loki spends his days.

 

He was the cutest kitten! With the bluest eyes – they still are amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loki is unbelievably smart; he is like Jack Reacher in that he always knows what the time is. If I’m not out of bed and on my way to feed him breakfast by 7:15, he sits in the hallway to my bedroom and meows, repeatedly, until I get up. We call him the Kitty Alarm Clock!

 

After he has breakfast, which he may or may not eat, it’s time for bed. He does prefer it when the bed is made.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But if he has to, he will sleep in an unmade bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some days he wanders in for lunch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes he likes to hang out when there is a Zoom meeting. #colleagues

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After all that excitement, it’s time to nap again. He has other favorite spots for napping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In case I forget, he yells to remind me that it is dinner time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guess what happens after dinner? Naptime! But with us. He’s not much of a lap cat, but he cuddles in his own way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes, we nap, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He also likes watching TV with us. Rachel Maddow is his favorite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He never forgets a birthday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loki celebrates holidays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And of course, he likes books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loki does tricks! Well, one trick. Still, he is the first cat we’ve ever had that could learn a trick.

 

I hope you found at least a tiny bit of happiness looking at cute cat pics. As always, thanks for reading and stay safe!


CORONAVIRUS DIARY: July 4, 2020

July 4, 2020

Independence Day Edition

 

We are more than halfway through this year, and what a year it’s been. The video is of last year’s 4th of July fun in a neighboring town. This year, all of Palm Beach County, where I live, has canceled firework displays. Of course, my neighbors have been blowing up stuff since last weekend, but no big displays this year. It’s just as well. It hurts me to admit it, but I really haven’t been feeling all that patriotic lately. I may be a liberal, but I am the type of liberal who used to tear up when I heard “The Star-Spangled Banner” or “God Bless America” or “America the Beautiful.”

This? The way we are living now? This is not America to me. Huge unemployment numbers, the murders of Black men and women by police, Putin being given carte blanche to pay terrorists bounties on killing American soldiers, a president who thinks he can wish away a pandemic, it’s all too much. I will hang out my flag and hope for a better tomorrow. I will say that the Black Lives Matter movement is making me feel more hopeful than I have in a long time, so that would be worth celebrating – other than the fact that it is rising on the backs of Black people dying in the streets at the hands of police officers.

This 4th of July, I will mostly take the day off from cooking and let my husband grill burgers. Last time we had burgers, we had them on my homemade brioche buns, but now we have store-bought. I may make some potato salad though, it’s my husband’s favorite, but my potatoes are starting to sprout. I will have to check to see if they are still safe to eat! Maybe a peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

The number of Covid-19 cases in Florida, especially in South Florida, has been climbing. The Palm Beach Post reported, “The number of COVID-19 cases skyrocketed in Florida on Thursday with a record-shattering 10,109 new infections reported by the Florida Department of Health.”

Happy July, folks. Our idiot governor basically has said, “Drop dead, Floridians!” and refuses to do anything about it. Rather like his idol, the current occupant of the White House.

Luckily, the Palm Beach County Commissioners have done their bare minimum. They closed the bars after midnight or something, closed the beaches for the holiday weekend, and are requiring everyone to wear masks. Except if you don’t want to because of a medical condition or religious reason. I have been researching religious beliefs barring mask-wearing and have yet to find anything, but what do I know. On the other hand, Palm Beach Post writer Frank Cerabino wonders if this religion that forbids mask-wearing is “Hannitarian”?

Cerabino: Religious exemption in PBC mask order adds to virus prey

My friend works for the public library and had a family come into the library, a mom and three kids, none wearing masks, and the mom said they all have medical conditions. It’s hard to tell sometimes, I get that. But what are the odds that the entire family has hidden medical conditions that preclude them from wearing masks?

I have become such a cynic! This is so not like me, and I don’t especially like this version of myself. But this pandemic has really pushed all my buttons. Some people are just incredibly selfish and thoughtless. I am angry and frightened, and I’ve been frightened for months and all I want is to be safe and for my family to be safe.

More troubling Florida news: “DeSantis kills online learning program amid virus resurgence: With a stroke of his veto pen, Gov. Ron DeSantis wiped out the entire $29.4 million budget for a suite of online education services that have become critical to students and faculty during the Covid-19 outbreak…The cuts include a database of online courses and an online library service that provides 17 million books to 1.3 million students, faculty and staff.” https://www.politico.com/states/florida/story/2020/06/30/desantis-kills-online-learning-program-amid-virus-resurgence-1296178

Then this happened in Miami: Miami-Dade cop relieved of duty for hitting woman taunting him for ‘acting like you white’ And my first thought was, at least she lived. How insane is that???

On a happier note, let’s talk about baking! I finally was able to get my hands on the “4.2 Quart Artisan Bread Baking Crock and Dutch Oven” that has been out of stock with all the other bread baking stuff from King Arthur Flour. It arrived yesterday and is so pretty! It was definitely a splurge but worth it. Now I just have to hope that I don’t break it. And more exciting news: Larry went to Costco during senior hour and scored me a big bag – 25 pounds – of King Arthur flour!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t it amazing the things that make me so happy now?

We had a Zoom anniversary celebration for my son and daughter-in-law’s first wedding anniversary last weekend. We were joined by her parents, too, and it was so nice to be able to toast the happy couple, even remotely. What a first year they’ve had! I told them that spending all these months alone together just proves how right they are together. It may not have been the dream anniversary celebration, but I guarantee it is one they will never forget.

My beautiful Loki has been investigating this space under the TV for months. Every now and then he stands up and sticks his head in and looks around. Today, he took the plunge.

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, this was a proud moment for me. My son is now on the Games Team at the New York Times!

 

 

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe!


No contest this month

July 1, 2020

Normally, I run a monthly contest offering several autographed thrillers for one lucky winner.

The International Thriller Writers organization has served a very important purpose and worked hard to help its members in a myriad of ways, including sponsoring this contest for almost 15 years. As an avid thriller reader, I have been a strong supporter of the ITW almost since its inception. I am proud of all the authors I have championed. It has been a privilege to work with this amazing group of writers and introduce them to thousands of readers.

Over the past few weeks, some things surfaced that have caused significant changes in the organization. This article by the AP, also in USA Today, gives a summary of what’s going on.  (Please note that “Liz Perry” is actually the former executive director of the ITW, Liz Berry.) 

It is my understanding that the ITW is working hard to resolve these issues and regain the support of its members. Unfortunately, until there is more clarification, I am temporarily suspending this contest. I am confident that a positive outcome is on the horizon.


CORONAVIRUS DIARY: June 18, 2020

June 18, 2020

Anniversary Edition

Today is my wedding anniversary. We are celebrating 39 years together, the last several months of which have been spent at home. It is a different way of celebrating an anniversary for sure. I don’t go out if I can help it, so no card. Sorry, Hallmark, this pandemic must be affecting the greeting card business. Gifts are easily bought online. But for many years we have been making what we consider to be a large purchase for the house or each other. A big screen TV. An alarm system. Apple watches. iPads. Tickets to a Broadway show. A trip. Things that felt like luxuries to us.

This year, we are not doing that. We are not really buying anything. For one thing, no one has job security and it feels foolish to squander money when we are not sure if or when our income will change. There will be no going out to a fancy restaurant. Covid numbers have been spiking in Florida, especially in my neck of the woods, since our idiot governor and greedy county commissioners have pushed businesses to re-open. People are happy to be out and are not socially distancing and many aren’t wearing masks. I won’t go anywhere. We did takeout once since this whole mess started, for Mother’s Day. I’ll be cooking for our anniversary. I like to cook, it is my happy place.

June has long been a month of celebrations for my family, and I’m happy to say there are more reasons than ever to celebrate. Larry’s birthday kicks off the month, followed by our anniversary, Father’s Day, my daughter-in-law’s birthday and her and my son’s anniversary. Their first (!) anniversary is this month, and they are not taking the trip they had planned. I’m hoping we can Facetime or Zoom or something at some point this month, and celebrate together the only safe way we can. I will be working on arranging that.

Teenagers!

Larry and I met in college. My roommates were friendly with his roommates, and we hung out a lot as a group. Within a few weeks, we started hanging out as a couple, and once we did, we became inseparable. We both fell pretty fast, and that was it for both of us. Within about six weeks, he told me he was falling in love with me. He was 19, I had just turned 17, and we’ve been together ever since. We’ve had our ups and downs over the years, of course, but honestly, it’s mostly been good. Sometimes, really great, like the birth of our children. Sometimes, really awful, like when Larry had some pain in his arm and a couple of days later had a quadruple bypass. He was 47 years old.

That was a big turning point for us. There’s nothing like a scare like that to make you rethink your priorities. To stop taking each other for granted. To appreciate every day you have together. Yes, every day isn’t like that but I like to think most days are. Larry’s always been a very easy going guy, rarely complains about anything, and it takes a lot to get him angry. On the other hand, I’m quick to anger (but also to forgive,) and I am definitely more, shall we say, a difficult personality. That said, he is always there for me no matter what, and I like to think I am always there for him as well. He probably wouldn’t disagree (no complaining, remember?)

I didn’t know how to cook when we first met. My mother was a single mom and worked and didn’t like cooking much. She made great chicken soup and chopped liver (from her mother-in-law’s recipes) but everyday dinners were either stew (I still hate any kind of potted meat to this day) or some sort of protein broiled until it was indistinguishable from any other kind of protein. Canned veggies. Instant mashed potatoes. You get the idea. I liked to bake, and she had a Good Housekeeping Cookbook that I would pore over. Once in a while, she would let me loose in the kitchen (she also hated messes and I am a very messy cook!)

When I met Larry, he didn’t really cook either but had grown up with a mom who was an amazing cook, and just by being around her, he picked up quite a bit. My mother-in-law gave me some simple recipes, and eventually, I learned how to cook. Larry was always supportive and somehow he always liked everything I made. It took me a long time to figure out that the only way to know if he really liked something was to ask him if I should make it again. Then, occasionally, he would say, “nah.”

Larry has made me laugh just about every day since we’ve been together. He can talk me down when I’m ready to jump. He has supported me and encouraged me in every way possible, no matter what. Want to stay home with the kids and live on one income? Sure! Want to work full time and go back to college, too? No problem! Need to drive 4 hours each way across the state to take a two-hour class? Why not! He has driven me to Tampa and Orlando for classes and conferences and has made it feel like we were taking a little vacation.

My favorite driving story is about when we were in college. I always wanted to go to school in Florida, but because I graduated high school early, my parents wanted me to stay in NY for a year, and that worked out because that is where I met Larry. He was going to transfer to a school in Florida, so he waited a semester for me to be able to transfer, too. He went to the Florida Institute of Technology and I went to the University of Miami. I didn’t have a car, but he had an old clunker. He drove down to Coral Gables every Thursday night to pick me up and brought me back to Jensen Beach to spend the weekend with him. Then on Sunday night, he drove me back to school. Once in a while, he stayed with me in Miami, but that was rare as he had a class on Friday. That was a five hour round trip drive twice a weekend. I always tease him that he wouldn’t do it today, but secretly I know he would.

During this pandemic, he has done all the shopping for stuff we couldn’t get delivered. He drove me to the oral surgeon and waited in the car (in 80+ degree weather!) while I had my surgery, just in case I wasn’t feeling well enough to drive home after. He calms me down when I see incredibly stupid people doing incredibly dangerous stuff on the news and I start yelling at the TV.

When we got married, I told him he would have one set of in-laws (my mom and her husband) and one set of “out-laws” (my father & his wife; turned out to be prophetic, we severed that relationship over 25 years ago.) Larry was a wonderful son-in-law, incredibly kind and patient with my mother (who was also a difficult personality,) and my step-father was his best friend. And I couldn’t have picked a better father for my children.

He’s not perfect, and God knows I’m certainly not, but he is perfect for me. To be honest, I don’t know how I got this lucky but I know that I am.

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe!