Mary Beth Writes

We had three inches of rain here yesterday. This is what the Fox River by Riverwalk condominiums looks like today.

While I was walking along here, an older woman (says me, ahem…) was standing on her sidewalk with her nervous beagle, looking at the over-its-banks river.

I said something friendly and boring, as one will. She replied that this was the most flooded she’s seen it, although she had only lived in this area for three years. I said I’ve been here four years. And then we both chuckled because the world thinks old ladies stay where they are, but pretty often we don’t.

It’s raining again this afternoon. It’s going to rain tomorrow.

In seminary I learned that when the minister baptizes someone, they cup some water from the font, put it on the victim’s head, and now they have a wet hand. This is the proper moment to flick their hand so that the water hits people in the front row – and then pronounce in serious, ministerial tones, “Remember your baptism and be grateful.” This sounds meaningful and most congregants don’t realize one does this because what else is one going to do, wipe their hands on their pants?

Getting wet when one doesn’t actually want to get wet (it was raining this morning and my glasses were a mess) reminds me of that. When in doubt, be grateful.

One can always switch emotions later in the day.

Last week two of my kids were informed that for the foreseeable future, their jobs are to be performed from home.

Just like that, the way the world works shifted. My kids still have their jobs but they don’t have an office a half hour commute from where they live. No co-workers to say hi to. No kitchenette with a coffee pot and free granola bars. No elevators and parking lots and wondering why your project partner is doing that and why your boss just closed her door and on and on.

This is how it will be for months and maybe forever.

It is serendipitous that both moved last year to homes with an extra room. Neither have kids so both can work pretty conveniently, although both mention that wearing professional outfits every day isn’t happening.

Also, sometimes the pets are distracting.

Len and I belong to our local Unitarian Universalist Association. Last week we got an email from the national office advising congregations to make plans to meet VIRTUALLY for the coming YEAR. Yeah, that was something to take in. The letter was thoughtful and said what we all know. Churches are enclosed spaces heavily sprinkled with older folks (ahem again) – and talking, hugging, and singing are powerful ways to spread the virus.

Our lives are being powerfully impacted. We are looking at a life and lifestyle we never imagined.

I am trying to wrap my head around this. How can Len and I enjoy and be productive and helpful to our friends, family, neighbors? What does a good retirement look like now?

Traveling is iffy. Can we rent a trailer with a bathroom and a kitchen? I never wanted a Winnebago, not even a little one. Do we have to look at this as an option?

For the society around us: What will jobs look like?

I can’t imagine teachers teaching two half classes of sticky kids who can’t remember to social distance, for the foreseeable future - for the salary and disrespect they currently receive. Impossible. To have children doing virtual school from home half the week, in-class socially distant classes the other half of the week? Impossible.

And what does that “solution” do for parents? One third of American families are headed by single parents. If we are sending kids to school half time, are we saying those families get to live in poverty, or the kids are unsupervised half the week?

School are currently the source of social work services, kids’ daily breakfast and lunch, afterschool daycare, and childhood enrichment activities – as well as education. Where is all that going if kids go to real school halftime and virtual school halftime?

School boards and politicians are, absolutely, talking about half week classes next fall. We need a better and long-term solution that starts with the way life happens now, not the way life worked on a farm in 1946.

Daycare? Good lord, how is anyone going to offer daycare in the next two years?

I am writing and writing here and I have no solutions. But I do have good questions, don’t I?

Here is my best idea for someone who wants to makes their fortune in this pandemic.

Invent small rooms with  “clean room” technology that filters viruses out and fresh air in. Put two “suits” in the wall in the middle of this room. You pay money, you go into this divided room with the person you really need a hug from. You each go into one side of the room, walk into the hug suit which meshes up with the hug suit on the other side, and you hug and hug and hug. I'd pay $10 to hug my people.

We are going to a virtual birthday party this coming weekend for our grandson who is turning one. 

Everything is different.

Except for how much we love each other.

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Comments

This all truly makes me crazy. I love your last two sentences. Very true.

Lots of interesting questions. It was so much easier to accept all of this when it seemed it would be over soon. I love the hug room idea. I hope you have a patent on it!

thank you

I picture the movie “The Andromeda Strain“ from the 1970s where the nurse has to climb into a similar suit to feed the baby! That might be an interesting movie to watch. But now that I remember the ending, the virus “just disappears”, so I wonder if You-Know-Who saw this movie and that’s how he became an expert in virology, medicine, etc.!!
Mary Beth's picture

OMG The Andromeda Strain. I think you are right. That's where Trump got his virology expertise.

A friend of mine tells me our current public education system was designed to train the future workers of the industrial revolution, and it hasn't changed much sense. I hope that someone somewhere (who has power) will see this pandemic/it's consequences for the opportunity it is to rethink our entire education system! I don't have the answers either... But I know there are some. We need to get out of this box; realize who our kids really are and what they really need; and figure out a way to keep them safe and happy, even as they learn. I also feel certain technology is not the solution--a tool, sure. I'll give ya that. But it's not the answer!! This is a moment for true reform! Is anyone going to take it?
Mary Beth's picture

People who can think outside the box are so seldom the same people who want to work on committees, run for public office, put up with the BS of politics. Occasionally we get someone who can do both but it's damn rare and they are hampered by all the power-sucking, doing-it-by-rote people around them. So does politics have to change? I 'm not for term limits. I think they kick out the rare ones who actually learn things and ought to be in politics because they know who and how. But how about instead of the stock market as our marker for national prosperity - we invent a moving calculation of the medium income of ALL adults in the nation and no politician can earn more than the national medium figure and no pol can have a net worth greater than the average net worth of all Americans. And after that, we go on with the constitution and laws that we have - and see if they suddenly WORK for average Americans instead of the Oligarchy.

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Quarantine Diary #66, 5/24/2020 Zoom Birthday

This week we Zoom-celebrated (zoom-abrated?) the first birthday of our grandson. This was a very different kind of party in our family which ALWAYS celebrates kid’s birthdays. We always have over a few too many friends and relatives. We always have a mound of presents the kids doesn’t actually need. We always have appetizers and pizza, an activity for kids, and a cake. We always sing Happy Birthday too slowly while the kid stares at the candles.

Quarantine Diary #65 – 5/22/2020 Shontay & Irresistible Iridescence

Science Daily website reports this scientific discovery. Bats have an unusual mammal response to viruses they encounter; they don’t get sick to fight the virus like the rest of us mammals do. Instead they act as a kind of long-term host for viruses. A bat is a repository of the viruses it has encountered in its batty life.

Quarantine Diary #64, 5/20/2020 Twenties & Assets

First of all, tonight at 8:20 the time will be 20:20 on 20/2020. If you have kids, or if you are your own odd duck, I think that would be a good time to celebrate. When our kids were young we celebrated New Year’s Eve by piling, on a table on a tablecloth, a crazy stack of metal cookie sheets, muffin tins, bread pans, and bowls. When midnight struck they would try to pull the tablecloth out from under the stack, everything would teeter and then tumble with a terrific crash and the cats would run and it was satisfying.

New Photo & Old Column About Spring

The photo is from this morning and is for you, Michol! This dam on the Fox River is alive with rushing water.

Quarantine Diary #62, 5/16/2020 - Invisible Crisis, Spring

Little Women Again: Louisa May Alcott volunteered as a nurse during the Civil War. She intended to serve three months but after several weeks she became deathly ill with typhoid pneumonia and went home. Typhoid was treated at that time with a medication made with mercury. She survived typhoid but would deal the rest of her life with an autoimmune disease possibly triggered by the mercury.  

Quarantine Diary #61, 5/15/2020 - Supreme, Spring, Little Women

Wednesday evening the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Gov. Evers' Safer at Home order. The 4-3 decision was written by four of the court’s conservatives.

Here are the 4 who voted against Safer at Home. This info is all from Wikipedia or the Mke Journal Sentinel.

Chief Justice Patience Roggensack said just this week, "Due to the meatpacking, though, that's where Brown County got the flare. It wasn't just the regular folks in Brown County.”  Because apparently people who work in meatpacking plants are not “regular folks.”

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