Shetland Island Dreams versus Boxing Squirrels

Ziva Baby

The evening walk, once a sixteen-block jaunt with my dogs, has become a stroll around the block. That’s all fourteen-year-old Cabela can handle. Her hips and left rear leg slow her down; although, she occasionally dashes across the yard or gallops along the property line in moments that my father would’ve called, “Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway.” My father lived by those words, with mixed results for the people around him.

For Ziva, our walks are too short. But she’s a go-along-to-get-along kind of dog. When she walks with her sister, she adopts Cabela’s slow pace, and like Cabela, she smells all the grass. The two of them have a favorite spot to sniff in the neighbor’s yard, a spot worthy of serious, laborious inspection each time we walk by it. The spot looks normal, but obviously it smells delightful and contains a message they are both hoping to decode. I understand because when lilacs are in bloom, I sometimes stop along other people’s yards and inhale their aroma. The scent of lilacs is my favorite flower smell. I muse about nature having assigned each flower its own perfume.

Some days, when Cabela is sound asleep and doesn’t hear us, Ziva and I sneak out of the house for a longer walk. I crook my finger at Ziva in a follow-me motion as I whisper, “Want to go for a walk?” She always does. Without Cabela, she poodle prances swiftly along the road, her butt sashaying like she’s a model in high heels striding down a runway. Sometimes I ask, “Ziva Baby, do you have a hamburger to go with that shake?” She ignores the question, and tells me to keep up. When we return, Cabela is usually sleeping in the same spot she was before we left and has no idea we’ve been gone. I’m thankful because I don’t want her to feel like a junior high dog whose friends ditched her.

A few nights ago, when we returned from our around-the-block walk, which turned into a twice-around-the-block walk to avoid some people with a dog, Cabela was tired. I let go of Ziva’s leash so she could trot up the stairs along side the house, and I walked with Cabela, letting her take her time.

Ziva reached the last landing and spotted three squirrels and a bunny in the back yard. She took off like a middling horse out of the starting gate. (Ziva might walk fast, but she’s a jogger not a sprinter.) She treed the squirrels and sent the bunny scurrying into the neighbor’s yard. She came within inches of one of the squirrels but made no attempt to grab it. She has come close to catching squirrels before, but she doesn’t want one. She enjoys harassing them. She stretched up along the tree trunk and gave a couple of quick barks.

If Ziva caught a squirrel, I picture it curling its front paw into a fist and pummeling her on the nose. She would cry and run to hide behind my legs. Ziva is a brave knight in the face of danger that she believes won’t come to pass. For all other occasions, she’s a damsel in distress hiding behind my skirts. If you invited Ziva to go bungy jumping, she’d tag along—but only to watch you jump. And I would be standing next to Ziva. Neither of us are too adventurous.

But next year I’m going to the Shetland Islands. This is an adventure for me. The Shetland Islands are so far north of Scotland that on most maps, the Islands are denoted with their name and an arrow pointing north—as in “Yeah, they’re up there somewhere.” I fell in love with their stark, stunning scenery while watching Shetland, a mystery series named after the Islands. My desire to visit the Islands became so strong that I thought about it every night before I drifted off to sleep and ever morning when I woke. Then COVID hit, and my dream drifted away. But the yearning is back, so I’m making concrete plans.

I’m nervous about going, about being so far away from home, about travel arrangements being garbled. But, when I start thinking this way, I’ll remind myself that being punched in the nose by squirrel can’t hurt worse than giving up on a dream.

Make New Friends, but Keep the Old

Last Monday when I took my nearly twenty-year-old sewing machine to be tuned and cleaned, I looked at a new machine that was the same brand but a step and a half up from the one I own. I’m not sure I would’ve considered buying a newer model if there hadn’t been a pandemic.

The finished quilt top: I will machine quilt it and bind it, then give it to my sister-in-law. My next project will be another T-shirt quilt.

When the lockdowns happened in the spring of 2020, being able to quilt kept me sane. I was home alone during the week because my husband worked in a business that was deemed essential, and I couldn’t see my children and grandchildren because we all stayed in our own bubbles. With all the death and uncertainty, dicing up fabric and sewing it back together was familiar and calmed my nerves. I could quilt without leaving the house because I have a sizable stash of fabric. I made a T-shirt quilt, two lap quilts, and two wall hangings and gave them to family and friends. I made a throw pillow and gave it to my dogs for their stuffed chair. I wanted a second machine because if there’s another lockdown, and something happens to one of them, I would be able to keep quilting.

The new model had features that would make machine quilting and appliquéing easier, helping me expand my quilting skills. But I wanted to sleep on it, so I left my old machine for a tune up and postponed buying the new one. Long ago, I made a rule for myself: All big purchases could only be made after I slept on it for a night. Over the years there were many purchases I never made but very few regrets about the ones I did make.

When I woke up on Tuesday morning, I was still enthusiastic about the new machine, so after lunch I went back to the store and bought it. When I returned home, I unboxed it and put it on my antique dining room table, which I use for sewing. (Don’t shudder. The table isn’t dainty.) The new machine looked especially modern and sleek on the old oak surface. It stood among a cutting mat, rulers, a rotary cutter, and fabric, becoming a part of the quilting landscape. I turned my back on it and did some writing, cleaning, and cooking. I stayed out of the dining room and away from the new machine. My old one sat in a shop, waiting in a queue for service, unaware it had been replaced. Regret seeped into my psyche. My old machine and I had pieced many quilts together: quilts for family and friends; quilts to welcome new babies into the world. By suppertime I stood in the kitchen and cried, wishing I had waited two nights instead of one.

Would I actually do more machine quilting or appliquéing just because I bought a new sewing machine? For the rest of the evening, I left it untouched. I kept picturing my old one sitting on the technician’s workbench. When it came home, I’d have to store it in a closet instead of returning it to the oak table because I knew it would become the spare.

On Wednesday I woke up at 4:30 in the morning and thought about the new machine with deepening regret. I decided to hide it in a dark corner of the closet and shut the door. An absurd idea. So, I set a goal for Wednesday: make friends with the new machine by making a quilt. I have a closet full of fabric and quilt kits that I’ve purchased over the years since I started quilting in 1994. I never had a sleep-on-it rule for buying fabric.

I selected a package of precut strips because I had a simple pattern for a Jelly Roll Race Quilt that would allow me to use all the strips to create a quilt that was quick and easy. (At the speed I sew, I should call it a Jelly Roll Stroll Quilt.)

I sewed a test strip with two short scraps. The new machine sewed a perfect quarter-inch seam. An essential feature. Then I sewed my strips together making one long strip. The new machine has a bigger work surface, making it easier to sew fabric together. A solid improvement. The redesigned quarter-inch foot did a better job of keeping the fabric in place as it passed through the feed dogs, so I didn’t have to keep repositioning it. A welcome timesaver.

Best of all, the new machine sounds like my old one because underneath its modern, sleek exterior, it has the same motor and frame as the old one, which I’d used for almost twenty years. Hopefully, I can use the new one just as long. I’ve got a lot of fabric in the closet.

The first quilt off the new machine will be a gift for my sister-in-law. The package of precut strips was originally purchased by her sister Jen who passed away from cancer in 2018 before she could sew them into a quilt. Jen gave me the strips before she died because she knew I liked to quilt. I’m piecing together the gift from Jen as a gift to her sister, connecting the past to the future while listening to the old familiar rhythm coming from the inside of the new sewing machine.

My new machine and I are going to be friends. But I will keep my old one. Perhaps each one of my grandchildren would like to sew a quilt, and my old machine will make new friends. I know where they can find some fabric.

[To find the instructions for making a Jelly Roll Race Quilt, click here. To read about one of my pandemic quilts, click here.]

Book Review: Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright

In the midst of a pandemic, I’ve been reading about pandemics. How depressing, you think! Not really. It’s more comforting than you might imagine. Most of the pandemics I’ve read about were worse than COVID-19, and I don’t say that to make light of COVID. It’s killed many people, caused long-term health issues, and disrupted lives and the economy, but it can’t compare to the Black Death or the Great Influenza of 1918.

My great-grandfather Frank died of TB in 1910.

Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright is a well-written sampling of killer pandemics. Her book covers the Antonine, bubonic, and dancing plagues, plus smallpox, syphilis, tuberculosis, cholera, leprosy, typhoid, the Spanish flu (Great Influenza of 1918), encephalitis lethargica, lobotomies, and polio. She describes the diseases and how they killed people, but doesn’t dwell on the grotesque. Instead, she focuses on the development of medical treatments and the people who worked to end plagues and pandemics. She writes with a gentle humor that helps readers digest what is a formidable list of population-depleting diseases. Fortunately, most of them have been mitigated by cures, treatments, or vaccines.

My great-grandfather Joseph, in the vest and tie, died of typhoid fever in 1922.

Wright’s book provides historical perspective. The bubonic plague killed quickly and painfully, wiping out tens of millions of people in the 14th Century. Worldwide death estimates from the Great Influenza of 1918 range between 25 million and 100 million (p. 197). It, too, killed quickly, especially people in their twenties. And horrifically, smallpox wiped out entire civilizations in the New World. Those statistics provide some comfort when compared to COVID statistics. Modern medicine is another comfort. Medical scientists have been able to develop working vaccines and helpful medicines in a short time to help combat COVID deaths.

Also, the historical details Wright’s book provides can—strangely enough—be a soothing balm. Some of what people are doing and saying about COVID seems tame in comparison to behavior during past pandemics. Some suggested “preventatives” against the bubonic plague were to eat crushed emeralds, live in a sewer, avoid bad smells, place chopped onions in your house, drink your urine, and don’t look at sick people (Wright p. 29-30). Among the many bizarre and useless cures for the bubonic plague were bloodletting and poultices made with feces (p. 40). Often prescribed treatments made people suffer more. In defense of people from the past, medical science wasn’t as advanced as it is today, and people were desperate during frightening times, like they sometimes are today.

Wright’s chapter on tuberculosis was scary. I was in the camp of people who thought that tuberculosis was mostly a disease of the past. It’s not. Tuberculosis kills 1.3 million (Wright, p. 125) to 1.5 million (CDC) lives a year. Most of the cases of TB occur in countries outside of wealthy nations like the United States. But mutations in the TB bacteria make it more resistant to drugs, and when people with TB travel, they spread the disease. “Recent models show that unless we scale up efforts to address this growing threat, the number of people dying from drug-resistant TB will nearly double every 5 years” (CDC). There’s also the wise adage: Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We need to pay attention.

In her epilogue, Wright discusses the AIDS epidemic. She didn’t give AIDS its own chapter because she feels there are people who lived through the AIDS epidemic who could tell the story better than she can. However, she wrote eight pages about AIDS, explaining how the epidemic was mishandled and how prejudice against gays made the epidemic worse. I believe she could tell the story of AIDS and make it as engaging and enlightening as the other epidemics she wrote about. And if she did, I would read that book.

Today’s My Ideal Day

[Bloganuary wants to know. It’s the WordPress blog prompt for January 13, 2022.]

Senior Dog

Today was my ideal day. I took what it gave me because thinking about what my “most ideal day looks like” would’ve taken more creative energy than I wanted to spend. Besides, no day is ideal. I cherish the days my sons were born, but labor was tough. I have fond memories of my wedding. But I spent seven hours with over a hundred people, and I had to talk to all of them. Lovely people, but I’m an introvert—I was exhausted.

So today had its blessings—

My senior dog didn’t wake me at 4:00 a.m. to go outside. Once or twice a week she knocks on my door. She wants to go outside and pee. She doesn’t have opposable thumbs, so I get out of bed and turn the doorknobs for her. But this morning she let me sleep.

I wrote a shitty first draft of an essay this morning. When I started to slow down and think too much about finding the perfect word or writing a better sentence, I went all Anne Lamott on myself: Write don’t revise, get the thoughts on paper—all the thoughts, on the paper, now! Regardless of spelling, grammar, punctuation. Without care for lyricism or flow or insight. When I finished, I had almost 1,300 words. I can’t have more than 500 for the piece I want to submit. But I’ve got a chunk of wood to carve into a sculptured essay. (I hope.) I saved the file, feeling a little smug about all the crap I had on my shitty draft. I gave myself permission to not think about the essay until tomorrow.

I talked to a friend, my mother, my sister, and my nephew. Four conversations with people I love, but who don’t live in my house. I talked to a clerk at Honest Dog Books and ordered a book. The bookstore is an hour and a half away, but sometimes I order books from there because the clerk remembers me. The staff writes a note to me and tosses in a couple of paper bookmarks when they ship my order. The book I ordered is being shipped to my nephew. He’s getting an autographed copy of Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. She visited Bayfield, Wisconsin, this summer, wandered into Honest Dog, and signed some of her books that were on the shelves. My copy of Writing Down the Bones is unsigned. But no day is perfect, not even an ideal day.

I put on a white turtleneck, a red winter-themed sweater, and a pair of garnet earrings someone gifted me. A couple of weeks ago, I decided I needed to stop wearing the same three turtlenecks my mother bought me in 2003. So, each day I find something in my closet that I haven’t worn for a while and I wear it. I do this even if I don’t leave the house, which is most days. Turns out I like dressing up a little to stay home. Reminds me of my nana wearing a house dress to do her laundry and scrub her floors. I did neither of those chores today. Those aren’t ideal-day activities.

I went to two coffee shops. Not to meet anyone. I don’t go inside places without a mask. I won’t eat or drink coffee in public spaces—I’m not removing the mask. I dropped off bookmarks and hung posters to advertise a writing contest. I bought two cupcakes to go in the first coffee shop, one for me and one for my husband. I ate mine as soon as I got home. I bought a mocha coffee to go in the second coffee shop. It paired nicely with my cupcake.

Wally

Wally, the brilliant squirrel who hacks my birdfeeders, stopped by to eat. He stood on the baffle, meant to keep him out of the feeder, and feasted on seeds. I washed dishes because it gave me an excuse to watch him steal bird food. Washing dishes isn’t ideal, but neither is looking at dirty dishes.

My senior dog needed to go to the vet for a shot. She’s had to go for a series of them. She wants to leave before we get in the door. But she’s always gracious to the vet and the assistants, who are kind and gentle with her and always say how much they love her.

I decided not to cook supper tonight. Leftovers are wonderful. But I made mashed potatoes for tomorrow’s homemade ham-and-bean soup that I’ll make in the morning.

Something I wrote yesterday made someone feel better. My husband loved the cupcake I brought home for him. My dogs enjoyed their evening walk.

It’s late and the house is quiet. I’m the only one up. The wind is howling outside, but I’m snug in my winter-themed sweater.

It wasn’t a perfect day, but it was my ideal day.

Day 30—A Gift of Kindness in Silver and Garnet

Today’s earrings arrived in the mail on November 4, 2021, otherwise known as “Day 11” in my series of blogs about earrings.

I began blogging about my earrings because I was having a blue day on October 25. I decided I needed to do something like I did before the pandemic. That something became earrings. I often wore earrings before the pandemic, so I decided for thirty days in a row, I’d wear a different pair each day and blog about them.

Wearing the earrings did make me feel better. Blogging about them gave something to write about. Having a friend proofread my blogs provided camaraderie.

Some stories came together easier than others. Some days I babysat my grandkids and other days I didn’t. I’d like to say that on the days my grandkids weren’t here, I wrote my blog faster and finished it earlier, but that wasn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the words to tell a story and have it say what I want it to mean. And the stories were about more than earrings.

On Day 11, I received a surprise in the mail. A small padded envelope with a bulging middle rested in the letterbox, lounging with junk mail.

I recognized the name on the return address; the envelope was from a writing buddy. Inside, wrapped in tissue, were a pair of silver and garnet earrings. Beautiful. Old fashion. A style from a time when women wore long dresses that flounced along their feet. A movie still of Jane Seymour from Somewhere in Time flashed through my mind. I’ve never seen the movie but that image of Seymour with her hair swept up at the back of her head and a pair of Victorian earrings dangling from her ears, is filed in my memory bank.

What made these earrings special was the note that came with them. My writing buddy wrote that these earrings had belonged to her, one of the many pairs of garnet earrings she had been given over the years for her birthday. And these were a pair that she had especially loved. She wanted me to have them. She had been reading my earring blogs, and they had moved her.

It’s a gift from the heart when someone gives you something they’ve cherished. I started to cry. She gave me beautiful earrings, and she gave me a piece of herself, her history.

I saved her gift to wear for today’s final blog about my earrings because I can wear them tomorrow and every day through Thanksgiving. I don’t have to pick a new pair of earrings tomorrow.

I’ll wear them through the holiday and often because I’m thankful for her act of kindness and generosity.

A good thing came in small package—on a day when I thought nothing interesting would arrive in the mail—to bring me joy and adorn my ears.

Day 25—Grand Marias Earrings

Today’s earrings are silver with Thomsonite stones, which are found in Minnesota.

Over the years my mother and I have trekked to Grand Marias every June. We like to eat at the Angry Trout as soon as we get to town. If the weather is nice we eat outside, but last time we ate inside because it was cold. June is capricious in the Northland.

After lunch we visit small art galleries, walk along Lake Superior, and shop at the Lake Superior Trading Post. Mom bought these earrings for me at the Trading Post in June 2019, the last time she came to visit. June 2020’s visit didn’t happen because of COVID-19 lockdowns. And this year’s visit was on-again-off-again, as COVID cases rose and fell, and we all got vaccinated. Ultimately, this year’s visit was canceled too. Instead my husband and I went to see Mom in July.

One year Mom and I took my sons, about 13 and 8, to Grand Marais for a few days. We stayed in a small hotel on Lake Superior. The boys had their own room with a TV and a remote control. They thought that was big stuff.

We started each morning with a hearty breakfast at the Blue Water Café, a cozy diner that both locals and tourists enjoy.

The first day Mom and I dropped my sons off at a small lake to fish. Flies were the only thing that bit. The next day we booked them an afternoon outing on a charter fishing boat on Lake Superior. They came back with a lake trout, but I don’t remember who caught it—maybe the boat captain. While they fished, Mom and I walked around town. She and I weren’t baiting hooks or cleaning fish.

For lunch one day, we gave them some money and sent them to Sven & Ole’s Pizza while Mom and I ate at a charming old home that had been converted into a restaurant. Grand Marais has a little something for everyone.

Mom had wanted to take us to Disney World, but I’m glad we went to Grand Marias instead. I liked our quiet vacation in a small town surround by natural beauty. I liked letting the boys fish and eat pizza and have a hotel room to themselves.

I like my Grand Marais earrings. They look good with that gray, white, and pink hand-me-down sweater Mom gave me.

I miss Grand Marais.

[To learn about Thomsonite stones click here.]

Day 23—Earrings and Necklace Combo

“I like your earrings,” a kindergartener said while I tried to get his sixteen classmates to hang up their coats and line up along the wall.

Did he really like my earrings? They do dangle and shimmer. Or did he sense that I was frustrated and needed a compliment? I was frustrated. Is a kindergartener that insightful? Perhaps, or perhaps not. But he validated my choice of earrings for the day.

“Thanks,” I said, then returned to organizing seventeen children. I subbed in his classroom today—my first day of subbing since March 2020. After being vaccinated and getting my booster shot, I felt ready.

I chose today’s earrings based on a necklace I always wear with a pale gray top with three-quarter sleeves and a large cowl-like neck highlighted with three pewter-colored buttons. I bought the top and necklace at The Little Gift House in Solon Springs, Wisconsin.

Before the pandemic started, an old friend and I would meet there for lunch, conversation, and a little shopping. The gift shop’s variety of goods is eye candy for adults. They have delicious food, and their desserts, coffee, and smoothies are scrumptious. They’re still open for business.

I bought the earrings at Lotus on the Lake in the Fitger’s Building in Duluth, Minnesota. I bought them to wear with my necklace. Lotus on the Lake closed in January 2021. I don’t know why they closed. My mother and I liked the store and always shopped there when she came to visit.

Today’s earrings may seem bland compared to the festive necklace I pair them with, but that’s by design—the necklace is the star. People compliment the necklace, never the earrings. But today a kindergarten boy said, “I like your earrings.” The earrings shouldn’t get smug about this because, having just come inside from recess, my coat covered the necklace.

It was good to be at work today, even if it felt like trying to ice skate after a long absence from frozen waters. The outfit and jewelry I wore made me feel good—gave me fortitude to face a day with energetic kindergarteners.

But I still needed a nap when I got home.

Day 18—Moonstone Earrings and Necklace

Today’s teardrop earrings are moonstones set in sterling. I bought them in December 2018, at Northgoods located in Petoskey’s Downtown Gaslight District.

Northgoods is my favorite gift store in Petoskey, Michigan. Most of the goods in the store are made by artists and craftspeople. The store is art gallery meets craft show. When I visit the store, I walk through it twice because there is so much to see.

Northgoods carries Petoskey stones and many products made with the stones. Polished Petoskey stones are beautiful, but I don’t own any jewelry made with them. I’ve never found a pair of Petoskey stone earrings that appealed to me, but I keep looking. That’s how I found the moonstone jewelry. I was only going to buy the earrings, but the setting on the necklace with the pale blue crystal set above the oval moonstone is elegant, so I bought it to keep the earrings company.

Today I’m wearing the moonstone earrings and necklace with a pale gray, floral sweater trimmed at the sleeves and V-neck in pale pink. The sweater is a hand-me-down from my mother. She gave it to me on one of my many trips to Petoskey.

I’ve been going to Petoskey for almost thirty years to visit my mother, who was at first a seasonal resident but now resides there year-round. Lake Michigan and the cities and towns near its shores are woven into my life. My husband and I make two trips there a year, and I often go a third time.

Since the pandemic lockdown ended, the only travel I’m comfortable with is driving to see my mother in Petoskey.

When they were young, I took my children to Petoskey in the summers. Now my husband and I take our dogs there. Life changes. Sometimes my husband and I talk about the time to come when we’ll no longer go to Petoskey.

Day 17—Earrings without a Story

I don’t remember where I bought these earrings. They have no special story. I didn’t lose one of them. They aren’t connected to a family member or a friend.

I bought them about five years ago, from a place I don’t remember, for no particular reason.

I wore them today because they don’t have a story, so I hoped to write this blog quickly.

I’m a quilter, and a quilting teacher once told me, “Honey, I’m not trying to offend you, but if you had to sew for a living, you’d starve.” She had worked in a garment factory in the South before the garment industry moved overseas and she moved north.

I wasn’t offended. She was correct. My sewing machined hummed a slow tune, never a fast jig. Her philosophy applies to my writing. If I had to produce words for a living, I’d starve. My writing, like my sewing, is slow and measured. After sixteen days of producing a blog piece every day, I have new respect for writers who do this every day.

I need to write today’s blog quickly because I have my four grandkids today, and in the evening, I have a two-hour writing class. I had my grandkids yesterday, then I had a board meeting for a nonprofit that I serve on. Time is scarce. I provide daycare for all four of them, ages three to ten, and homeschooling for the oldest two. At the end of the day, my brain is worn thin like an old T-shirt.

As I write this, the homeschooled grandkids are reading science and history stories in the back room. The three- and five-year-old grandkids are playing with blocks in the front room where I’m writing. They’re steeped in a world of imagination, their voices giving life to the stories they’re creating with blocks and Little People characters.

Soon I will stop writing this story to make breakfast, then begin lessons with the older two kids.

In between lessons, I will

settle disputes between the younger two kids

help the three-year-old with potty training

let the younger two play with Play-Doh

dole out hugs to anyone who gets an owie

make lunch

let my dogs in and out a bazillion times

read to the little ones

clean up after Play-Doh

serve water

sweep the floor

wash dishes

correct lessons

and revise and edit this blog story.

This Saturday, three of my grandkids will get the first of their COVID-19 vaccines. After Christmas they will be fully vaccinated and return to their classrooms. Another step toward pre-pandemic normalcy.

But the three-year-old will still keep me company when his parents work. And he doesn’t nap anymore.

By the way, I like these earrings, even if they don’t have a story.

Day 8—Beach Glass Earrings

Today’s earrings are made from green beach glass and surrounded by silver. The earrings are fraternal rather than identical twins. You take beach glass as you find it—the surf will never spit up a pair of matching smooth frosted pieces of glass.

Beach glass fascinated me when I was a child. I had a stash of several green, white, and brown pieces in an old cardboard cigar box that held other small treasures. I liked tiny treasures—the kind of stuff my mother didn’t like cleaning out of my pockets or the washing machine.

I sometimes wonder where all the tiny treasures from my youth went.

I bought these earrings in early 2020 at the Dovetail Café & Marketplace in Duluth, a couple of months before the COVID-19 lockdown. I had recently discovered the Dovetail and enjoyed meeting friends there for coffee or lunch. I even read a story at one of their open mics then enjoyed a wonderful evening listening to other storytellers and poets.

These days I mark a lot of events as either before or during COVID.

I’m looking forward to adding after COVID.