“Peace can become a lens through which you see the world. Be it. Live it. Radiate it out. Peace is an inside job.” —Wayne Dyer
2020 has been an emotional year for most of us. The entire world has been impacted by Covid-19. Our country has visions of twittering, tweeting, marching, and burning throughout the Presidential elections. Fortunately, the election is over and as I write most of the votes have been certified and a winner chosen. A chapter in our nation’s history is coming to a close.
But unfortunately, the virus is still rampant among us closing schools, keeping us from seeking out family and friends, hurting small business and restaurants. When we look back on 2020, I’m not sure what the history books will say about how we were impacted by Covid-19. We know our lives have fundamentally changed. Some of those changes will return to normal with a vaccine, hopefully by spring. But some will stay with us. For example, many people may always work remotely. We’ve gotten so used to packages we may not return to shopping in stores. Hopefully, we will return to seeing our friends over coffee and at churches and social outings.
On Wednesday, March 25, Governor Little ordered Idahoans to shelter in place in a effort to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus for 21 days. Our family currently at home consists of my husband, a physician who goes into the hospital daily and myself and our pets, two dogs and a cat. When my husband heads out early to do rounds, I am essentially sheltering alone. I have marked off my calendar with the days that the order holds. I’m treating it like an advent calendar. Assuming Idaho is able to bring the virus under control, we will be able to return to some sense of normalcy by April 14. I check off each day, another grand adventure at home. If we are successful at reducing the spread, the time in shelter will be worth it.
At the moment I feel lucky because my son, Scott, lives in Seattle, a virus hot-spot and has been staying home since March 1 so almost a month longer than my husband and I. Since Seattle hasn’t managed to turn the curve yet, he may be staying home even longer. So far Scott who works for the Starbucks Corporate Office has been very fortunate to be able to continue his work from home. Every day we read about more layoffs. The ability to work from home is a true blessing. I am retired so my office floats around the house. I have a lot of electrical equipment to conduct my retired affairs including an I-Phone, I-Pad, portable computer, desk top etc. I am practically computer illiterate so I feel lucky every day I am able to write a coherent sentence on equipment that is smarter than me.
Here are my lists of delights since we have moved to sheltering:
1. Walking a couple miles a day around our neighborhood. We have a mansion going in up the street from us. I remain amazed at how many workers this project has entailed. The work has continued even with the shelter order. Maybe a home for a multi-millionaire is an essential project or at least keeping a large workforce going is essential. On the nature front, flowers are bursting from the ground and budding on the trees. We have gorgeous colors all around us, pink, red, yellow. We have no tulips because the deer snap off the tops as soon as they bloom. I have to assume to deer tulips are similar to aphrodisiacs to humans. Idaho has lots of newcomers. Someone posted on our neighborhood blog that her tulips had been stolen during the night and who could be so mean. Sometimes, our wild friends are not so accommodating.
2. Sitting on my front porch enjoying the sun. The weather this weekend was so warm we could all be outside playing but that was before the Governor’s order. Now we can exercise but we are suppose to keep close to our houses. We have a gorgeous front porch. The weather has turned a little cooler but I spent all morning yesterday outside wearing a parka and covered with a blanket sipping a mug of coffee and catching up on emails. Sun is good for the soul and should be sought out whenever possible.
3. Meditation and prayer. Our minister has suggested as a lead up to Easter we pray five times a day (when we get up, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and when we go to bed). I also try to take time to close my eyes and chase away the whirling thoughts and focus on my breathing.
4. Playing with and enjoying my pets. I have an entourage where ever I move through the house. All the animals go with me. They like to be petted, chase balls and in general I find them amusing.
5. Keeping in touch with family and friends. I text my two children and my sister every morning so they know I’m still around. I try to call my sister who lives in Colorado daily. I chat with my kids weekly but send them many strange messages by text throughout the day. I have a friend in Wyoming who writes long esoteric essays on the meaning of life that I look forward to reading and responding to, and much to my amazement I have found Facebook to be a place of much humor and little politics.
6. Watching movies and reading. When I’m done with my contacts with the outside world, I turn to reading and watching movies. Much of my reading involves newspapers. We get three every day. I love old movies and with Netflix and Amazon Prime there seems to be an endless supply of things to watch.
In summary, I find my days in shelter to be generally delightful. I could view them differently as boring or a hardship. But I prefer to focus on the loveliness of the world in which we live and opportunity to experience something new each day. My blessing to you today is, may you stay healthy and find joy in the moment. And your home be a sanctuary in times of trouble.
I collect story teller dolls. They are handmade pottery figurines with small children gathered around them and an open “O” mouth. They were first made in the pueblo cultures of New Mexico and because people found them cute there are now many variations of them. For example, my sister gave me an acrylic one with a cat and kittens, obviously not out of the Native American culture.
The dolls are cute but more importantly they reflect how traditional cultures passed on history, through oral story telling from one generation to the next. I attended a presentation by a black female story teller last weekend and she pointed out that during slave times almost all Black history was oral. Storytelling is an essential component of the human condition. We share the stories that weave the fabric of our families and ultimately our culture with our children.
We were in Arizona a couple of weeks ago. We had the opportunity to tour the Amerind Museum in Dragoon, Arizona. The museum focus is Native American and cowboy art. One of their displays showed how the art work of one family was passed to their children and relatives. All the pieces while beautiful had a similar look to them.
When I returned home, I reviewed the makers of my collection. I have two sets of similar dolls. Not unexpectedly one set was produced by Lucero family who live in the Jemez Pueblo. The other set was produced by the Lewis family who live in Acoma Pueblo. The Lucero pieces are uncannily alike, as if I bought the same thing twice. The Lewis family is becoming known for their bright colors and variations on the tradition storyteller motif.
We have visited the Acoma Pueblo, west of Albuquerque New Mexico, also known as the Sky City Cultural Center. The Pueblo provides a window into Native people’s history. The Pueblo is built atop a sheer-walled 367 foot sandstone bluff. There is no running water or electricity but there are still Native Americans in residence making gorgeous pottery.
My dolls remind me of fabulous trips across America with my husband. They also symbolize the history of the first Americans. Maybe most importantly they represent that human souls are all linked together by our need to share stories and be part of a community of friends and family.
My husband and I spent a long weekend in Tucson a few weeks ago. The topic of the border wall, and US military activities along the border are not only salient for Arizonans but in your face.
We ate lunch with friends in Tubac, 40 miles south of Tucson, and 20 miles from the US/Mexico border. Every car returning from Tubac to Tucson is stopped by the military and checked by a dog for drugs. There were at least 30 cars parked in the parking area as we passed. I don’t know if the cars belonged to the many military personnel on patrol or people who were stopped. Either way, a lot of human manpower in one location.
As four older white adults, we didn’t raise many eyebrows at checkpoint. I’m sure if we sported young brown Hispanic faces our experience might be quite different. Ironically, we weren’t even crossing the border. This stop, is not at the border but rather between two U.S.communities. According to my friends, our cursory stop was the shortest wait they had at this particular check point. Sometimes, cars are backed up for 30 to 40 minutes.
While visiting, we attended a presentation by a national expert on Asylum. The expert told us that the rules were changing so quickly that no one could provide a clear answer to anyone wanting accurate information about what steps to take to seek asylum.
I had hoped to tour the wall while visiting the southwest for a better personal understanding of what we are talking about when we say the U.S. is building a wall to “protect” us. We are going back in March to Tucson with a different set of friends. Unfortunately, all the tours by the Border Community Alliance, a Tubac, Arizona nonprofit, committed to wider public knowledge of border issues are booked through March. My husband and I may drive down to the border crossing at Nogales just to view what is going on. But Tripadvisor recommends against American tourists going further south than Tubac unless on a legitimate tour.
I heard on National Public Radio (NPR) today. That we have just changed Asylum regulations again. Anyone who is visibility pregnant is not allowed into the country even if they have a legitimate already assigned court date to determine if they qualify for asylum. Since these pregnant women are stopped at the border trying to get to their court date, they miss the appointment. One of two things happens; best case scenario they get another court date after the baby is born or they are disqualified for asylum because they failed to show up for their court date and were unable to provide notice. The obvious reason for this policy is to keep their babies from being born in the United States and qualifying for citizenship. There is an churlish unfairness underlying this change in policy. Poor, probably homeless and abused pregnant women are trying to follow our rules and we are constantly changing them without notice.
The border problems have not been part of the Democratic debates but they certainly should be part of every American’s civic discussions. We are a country of immigrants. We should be able to agree on a policy on how to process entry into the United States that is easily understandable for individuals legitimately seeking asylum, protection from persecution or fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, or political opinion.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” Message on Statue of Liberty Plaque.
We just spent the past few days with long-term Wyoming friends in Tucson. Our friends used to escape Wyoming’s long hard winters in Tucson but now they have sold their Wyoming home and moved permanently to Arizona. They live in a Robson community for 55 plus seniors called Quail Creek near Green Valley, Arizona. The advertising says, “Living here is like being on vacation every day.”
We spent our mornings drinking coffee on the veranda, swimming in the heated outdoor pool, and going for walks. We spent our afternoons exploring the gorgeous desert landscape and viewing Native American and cowboy art. We ate wonderful food at exotic restaurants ranging from a five course Valentines dinner to a lunch on the patio of the resort used to film the movie, “Tin Cup”. We spent an afternoon in the quaint community of Tubac. We saw kitschy art and gorgeous Native American Art. We were stopped by American soldiers driving back, checking for drugs coming into the country. One afternoon we attended a lecture on “Asylum”. The politics of the wall and border are very salient in an area less than an hour from the border.
The temperatures hovered in the low seventies during the day but dropped drastically at night to the 50’s requiring jackets.
I go every year to visit my friend who I have known for thirty years. I would visit her if she lived in Alaska. But over time, I have come to welcome this break from Idaho’s winter. We enjoy the sunshine but we enjoy each other’s company more. As I age, I have come to appreciate the joy of shared memories. We laugh spontaneously over silly things we did in our youth. It’s great to be in vacation land but it’s better to be in vacation land with our very good friends.
My dad grew up in the South in a small town called Lancaster, the deepest, darkest backwaters of South Carolina. He attended the Citadel for college, alma mater to Robert E. Lee, the civil war general. Founded in 1843, Citadel graduates fired the first shots in the Civil War. A rigorous military school, academically comparable to our national military academies, the Citadel was not a bastion of progressive thought.
My ancestors, I am not proud to say were the plantation owners who came from England in the 18th century. English gentry, 2nd sons without land establishing large successful plantations based on slavery. My sister and I can still remember visiting my grandmother, Daisy, who lived to be 102. She owned a large plantation home, a replica of “Gone with the Wind”. The plantation land had been sold by the time we arrived in the 1950’s to visit. But her home and surrounding plot was still a compound with a family duplex built in back. Sections of the house had been walled off so her black maid could have a place to live. A big white mansion had screened front porches for sleeping during the muggy southern summers and large fans throughout because it had no air conditioning. The rooms were huge with high ceilings. We never saw the kitchen, hidden somewhere in the back. The black maid accommodated our food needs.
When we visited our relatives in Lancaster, we could have been dropped into the book, “The Help”. Silent black women dressed in soft pastels with white aprons would appear and take our orders for sweet tea or Coca-cola. As small kid from Wyoming, I found being waited on and sitting quietly in a fussy dress while adults conversed around me quite bizarre and uncomfortable.
We drove to the south whenever we visited. Days of traveling on endless turnpikes with visits to historical monuments and battle fields. I remember asking my mom, “Why are there signs saying whites only and colored on the bathrooms.” Her response, “We don’t do that in the West.” Not exactly an answer but I got the message that this was not a way to live.
Colored only signs in the south
My mom and dad were like, the current royals, Megan and Harry. Dad met my mom in Wyoming when he was stationed at Warren Army base. He was smitten and wrote her throughout the war. They married right afterwards. Dad joined the family business in Lancaster taking mom far from her western roots. They lived in the duplex on the compound. Mom used to describe black people lined up to pay their rent every Friday outside my Grandfather’s bank. She did not approve of making money on the backs of poor black families. My dad was a partner in the family department store, the only one in Lancaster. Dad took his funds out of the family business and moved west. I think because mother couldn’t stand the genteel standards of the southern women and the inherent racism in the town. But in fairness to my Dad, the war had changed him. He had fought with men of many different races and traveled the world eventually being stationed in India.
My sister and I were born and grew up in Wyoming, certainly not a bastion of progressive thought. Yet, my sister and I are both liberal Democrats. We have seen and experienced racism as an ingrained culture. We know what it’s like to be dropped, like Alice in Wonderland, into a world that is very different than our own. We both have adopted children of different nationalities. We have traveled the world and been open to new experiences. The seething, undercurrents of racism in the 1950’s in the south have stayed with me always. I don’t want to use restrooms delineated by color or belong to organizations that exclude entire groups of people. I believe in welcoming all into our churches.
Martin Luther King Day reminds me of my upbringing. I know he had a tremendous cultural and social battle to wage. Unfortunately, that struggle continues.
The first of December is the start of the Advent season and at our house the bringing forth of the annual advent calendar. Advent means “coming”. The idea is simple: Count down the days in December leading up to Christmas Eve. Advent Calendars come from Germany where Christians marked doors with chalk and later created special calendars to count the days to Christmas.
When I was little, we had two Advent Calendars, one for me and one for my older sister. They were simple cardboard with pictures covered by little flaps. Each flap had a number, 1 to 25, marking the days until Christmas. My mother kept the same two calendars for many years and just switched them up. I’m not sure if that was because she was thrifty or because we needed to save the money. As a kid I always felt we had plenty of funds, but maybe not. My dad was a small businessman, selling ladies shoes in a small Wyoming town. While we lived comfortably, we certainly weren’t wealthy. Really, the repeat calendars were great because they served the purpose of starting holiday festivities early.
Nowadays, I get new calendars for my kids and my husband from Trader Joe’s. They are less than $2, filled with little pieces of chocolate and help mark the season and remind my family that I am the keeper of the family traditions. My husband eats all of the little candies at once. My son misplaces the calendar, remembers the calendar half way into January and gets a late Christmas treat. My daughter who is fastidious opens each box on the appropriate day and has 25 days of Christmas treats.
The variety of calendars is fascinating. There are basic picture calendars like I grew up with, legos, Hershey Kisses, beauty boxes, and varieties of tea. For those who want to celebrate the Yule Tide season daily, there are calendars with little bottles of whisky, wine and beer. For families who want to build a regular advent tradition there are expensive wooden calendars and hand sewn varieties which can be displayed prominently and refilled with treats and surprises every year.
If you don’t have an advent calendar by now it’s probably a little late to find one. But I would recommend putting on your shopping list for October/early November 2020. You can vote for President and then buy a calendar to hopefully celebrate ushering in a new administration.
My son, Scott’s, first Christmas, we had a professional picture taken at JC Penney’s in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He sat on a gaily wrapped package, dressed in a little red vest, bow tie, and dress slacks. His outfit is complete with moon boots, a Wyoming staple. He wore those boots every day his first winter walking.
Kayla, my adopted daughter from China, arrived at our Boise house in the spring 2000. She was 8 months old. When her first Christmas rolled around, it was easy to have her join Scott in the Penney’s photo studio for our annual Christmas photo. The photo studio in Boise was much fancier than Cheyenne. In Cheyenne, there was a camera set up in front of a tree background in the open store. In Boise, there was a separate studio where 4 minions snapped pictures as a steady stream of children dressed in party clothes paraded through. The children marched up on a stage and sat on small boxes. Parents could choose from a variety of backdrops.
Our most exciting year, Scott and Kayla were sitting on the little stage and suddenly disappeared behind the backdrop. Apparently, the little present had held one too many children and just gave out. As the mom, standing behind the camera I was stunned. The backdrop flopped back down but my kids were nowhere to be seen. They were on the floor behind the little stage, unhurt. This incident required me to sign a whole series of reports. I received several calls from Penney’s insurance to make sure that no damage had begotten my children.
When we had Scott’s first picture taken, I had a friend who suggested we send out the picture as our Christmas card. Hard to believe but 25 years ago this was actually an innovative card. Christmas cards to relatives and friends were still the “in” thing. This same friend said she had a friend who had sent pictures for 18 years than duplicated all the previous cards when the child graduated from high school. This crafty friend sent relatives a photo album of all the Christmas pictures. When I started on the Christmas photo project, I planned to assemble them in the same manner. Sadly, that time has come and gone. Scott has graduated from high school, college and now works in Seattle. Kayla graduated from high school two years ago and is at Montana State University in Bozeman.
In recent years, I debate whether to print cards. After all, everyone sees what you are up to on Facebook. My Christmas list has drastically reduced as family members and friends pass or move and don’t provide forwarding addresses.
Today, I bought my Christmas stamps. The purchase was an act of intention committing me to printing 2019 cards. The digital world makes it so much easier. If we aren’t together for a picture, I can go online, pick out a frame with individual shots and make it look like we are at least in touch with each other. This year we were all together. We went to Hawaii in May and we spent Thanksgiving together in Buffalo, Wyoming. My husband, Pete, and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary with a trip on the inner passage of Alaska by ferry. We have lots of memories to share.
Now I have to brave the crowds at Costco to pick up the cards. Why bother in the current cyber world? I decided to continue the tradition one more year because 25 years of family Christmas photos is really a lovely gift to my husband and me.
We are headed to Buffalo, Wyoming for Thanksgiving this year. Our trek is elaborate. We start out on Tuesday and head to Bozeman, Montana. We spend the night in Bozeman and pick up our daughter, Kayla, who is a sophomore at Montana State University. We also drop off her snow tires.
Then we soldier on to Billings where we stay in a suite that has a 24-hour airport shuttle. This is an important feature because our son, Scott, is flying in from Seattle and arrives at midnight when most things in Billings are closed. Assuming everything goes as planed, he arrives at our room about 12:30 am while the rest of us continue snoozing peacefully with visions of turkey drifting through our heads.
If Billings goes anything like last year, we will be running around late looking for tofu turkey. Scott is a vegetarian and we left our specially bought vegan plunder at home. We raced in the only vegetarian market in Billings just at closing (8 pm) and bought a supply of frozen veggie turkeys. Scott landed on time but crashed through the dark room waking everyone up. But who am I to complain? He made the sojourn from Seattle after work on a cigar plane (one seat on each side) to a small airport, landing in the middle of the night, just to join the family.
We get up on Thanksgiving day and drive two and half hours to Buffalo, Wyoming. The town is about 4,500 people; about half of whom are Koziseks. The Koziseks have manned the sheriff’s office and police force for years. The next generation is now serving. There is such a crowd that last year we had dinner in the basement of the Baptist Church. We didn’t fit in a house. A large number of the family were left out because my nephew’s wife was entertaining her extended family at their mini-ranch. We dropped by for a visit and couldn’t get in the door so many people were in attendance. The thought of all of us together in Buffalo is mind boggling. My husband’s family are all avid hunters and fishers and believe in standing for the flag at football games. We always have lots to talk about except politics.
My husband, Pete, lost his younger brother who lived in California last spring. Our Thanksgiving group will be slightly smaller and a lot sadder this year. The California brother was the big arranger of family reunions and his favorite place was Disney Land. We have toured the Magic Kingdom on a number of occasions in a Kozisek crowd. My husband used to laughingly refer to his California brother’s family as the “Disney Nazi’s” because we did Disney from sunrise to fireworks every day. I fondly remember the trips because Kayla was little and got passed around a lot. I got a break from child care and the pleasure of adult company.
Over the years, what I have found most remarkable about all these visits is the goodwill. We are very different people but at Thanksgiving and in Disney Land we seem to be able to find common ground. I have learned that love and gratitude grow with age. In the Kozisek family, there is always plenty of both to go around.
I awoke to a glorious Easter Sunday in Boise! Always a blessing to get up and greet the sun. We’ve had a winter that didn’t seem to want to end. There was snow just last Thursday.
Our minister told a packed house; “Anyone who likes to garden has faith. It is an act of faith to put a seed in the ground and look forward to it springing forth with new life.” Let’s get out there planting little sprouts to bring hope to ourselves and others.
Five years ago I would never expected to see police in uniform on duty with a bomb sniffing dog at church. Now we are getting to use to it. We had one at the Cathedral of the Rockies at Christmas too. This time the policeman was extremely kind to everyone and the gorgeous German Shepard was very photogenic. Fortunately, their presence was not needed.
We always buy flowers at Easter from the church youth group to help support youth mission trips in the summer. The pink and blue hydrangeas have thrived in my back yard. The one we go this year practically shouts, “Look at me!”
I buy the Calla Lilies in honor of my daughter Kayla, both the lily and Kayla have roots to China but grow well in Idaho. This year I am blessed to have both flowers and daughter grace my house with beauty.
This is the twenty-second year I have hidden Easter baskets, a family tradition. I will miss it when Kayla goes away to college, one more year of baskets. We learned this year with Scott home for a while that you are never too old to bite off the ears of a chocolate bunny.
My son is off to Seattle May first to expand his world and hopefully hunt down a good first job. We are all very excited for him. The purpose of parenthood is to raise children who can float by themselves. I will miss his good humor, beautiful photographs and noise around the house.
Our male tom cat, Satch, had a good Easter. He discovered a box in the house just his size, always a delight. The weather was perfect for cats to lay outside and soak up sun.
Easter is a time of new beginnings. May this year bring out the very best in you and your family. Thanks for reading.