“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.
The Wednesday night before the United States became crazy about their toilet paper because of the Coronavirus, we boarded a Southwest flight to wing our way south to Phoenix where we planned to rent a car and drive to Tucson for a four day weekend. Our plane was full with kids going to baseball tournaments and adults wanting to see spring ball. By the next day spring ball and all the kids tournaments were cancelled. We continued on with our plans to go to Tucson. We had no clear agenda from the beginning. The weather in Tucson is so inviting in the spring, it is easy to stay outdoors and away from others.
Thursday, my husband picked up the rental car from the Phoenix airport. Rentals are expensive (or were when we started because this is high season). We chose the “managers special” to save money. That means you get whatever car is available. We got a new Jeep Compass which was a great car for touring the countryside. On our way out of Phoenix, we stopped by the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. The Casa Grande site is a tribute to more than 650 years of irrigation in the desert. Archeologists are not sure of the purpose of the site but the monument houses the remains of the largest earthen building in North America. Civilization in this location lasted over a thousand years until about 1450 C.E. The location was abandoned. Without written word the people responsible for an elaborate irrigation, farming, and trading culture remain a mystery.
When we arrived in Tucson we checked into the Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort. The Wyndham is located in the Sonoran Desert. When looking for a hotel in Arizona make sure to pick one with outdoor pools, and places to sit. The sunsets in Tucson are gorgeous and free. There’s nothing like sitting on your balcony after an afternoon soak in the pool with a glass of wine and watching the sun set in a colorful sky.
Friday we headed to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. The drive took us through the Saguaro National Park. Named for the large saguaro cactus, native to the area, we had our lunch sitting on a rock looking at the grand landscape. The afternoon we toured the museum which is actually an outdoor adventure showcasing native desert plants and animals. I particularly enjoyed the hummingbird exhibit. If you have kids with you, plan your trip to see the raptor flyover scheduled once a day right now.
Saturday we headed to the Sabino Canyon in the Santa Catalina Mountains. There are 30 miles of trails in the recreation area. Once again we took a picnic lunch to eat outdoors. We had bought tickets to go on the tram which proved to be an open air crawler. Because of recent rain in the area, we were only able to get to the dams and see the flooding, rushing river. In dryer seasons, the crawler takes you all the way up to two glorious waterfalls.
Sunday we met friends. But by Sunday, the country was awash with alarm over the Coronavirus and things were starting to shut down. We were literally one of about 10 people on the usually bustling University of Arizona campus. If you were traveling during more usual times, I would recommend you plan Sunday to drive to Tubac about 40 minutes south of Tucson. Established in 1752, Tubac is a charming artist colony with gorgeous colors and eclectic items in all their stores. On the way down or back stop at the Mission San Xavier del Bac, meaning White Dove of the Desert. The Mission was built by Spanish Franciscans in the 18th century and sits on the Xavier Indian Reservations. You can’t miss it’s rising dome as you drive by on the highway.
Monday we headed back to Phoenix and an amazingly uneventful flight home. The plane was packed. As we walked through an empty Boise airport, we saw 6 or 7 people waiting for a plane to San Fransisco, one of the hot zones for the virus.
At some point, life in the US will return to normal. Americans love to travel abroad as witnessed by the lines at the 13 funnel airports this weekend. But we have wonderful sites here in the states. If we have to stay in our country’s boundaries for while so be it. We live in a glorious, mysterious place.
Tonight and tomorrow many women will be watching Pilot Pete, the Bachelor star, give his final rose in a 4 hour finale . The Bachelor has been going strong for more than 20 years though few engagements have led to marriages. The Bachelor is so popular that there are many spin offs such as The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise and Bachelor Live on Stage which made it’s way to Boise at the Morrison Center last week.
I admit to a minor distaste for the popular show which seems to have the potential for meanness, bullying and great pain for some participants while viewers are voyeurs watching on national TV. I have walked through the living room right when my daughter was watching a guy dump a girl on TV for his second choice. I’ve seen pieces of many shows over the years because we did have a member of the viewing audience, my teenage daughter in the house. The only redeeming part is the participants, who get paid nothing, know what they are signing up for. The bachelors and bachelorettets do get paid.
Even though I have never watched an entire Bachelor show much less a full Bachelor season, I bought two tickets last fall to the Bachelor Live in Boise. I gave one ticket to my friend for Christmas. I bought the tickets because I wanted to see how the producers condensed months of magical, emotional couple moments into a 90 minute extravaganza that could be moved around the country for a live audience. I thought it would either be a hoot or at the worst boring. There can’t be too much drama among people who have barely met.
The show was hosted by former Bachelor Ben Higgins who remains unmarried as far as my sleuthing can tell and Becca Kufrin, a former Bachelorette engaged to her choice with no plans to marry, too busy getting to know each other, making money on Bachelor podcasts and traveling with the live show.
The Boise show opened with pzazz; dancers, music and great backdrop. The chosen bachelor was an Air Force engineer who brought some of his buddies with him. Here in Boise, we have great respect for people who serve in the military. He had the audience with him from the beginning. Ben Higgins encouraged the Bachelor Nation crowd, almost exclusively women, to participate. Boise Nation, never a place to engage in polite decorum, hooted and hollered all night long. The airmen up front helped their buddy along.
In 90 minutes, the roses go by fast and furious. Twelve women introduced themselves, all of them dressed up, lined up on risers, and the first rose ceremony came, an introduction and your on or off. Somewhat shallow at best. Then there was a game show about how the bachelor had answered questions. The woman getting the most answers right got a rose. There was a dance off called Lip Stix. The dancing provided some of the best entertainment of the evening. Two of the women were fabulous dancers and our bachelor even had some moves. Best dancer got a rose. Then the girls lined up again for a rose ceremony and the numbers dwindled quickly. There was slow dancing with women cutting in and then a rose ceremony cutting down to six.
There was a intermission for the bachelor to meet 6 young women and engage in intimate conversations in 20 minutes. Mainly, I think this was for potty break. The Morrison Center is known to not be kind to women built during a period when male designers didn’t provide enough female restrooms.
After the intermission and cozy chats with a half dozen women, 3.3 minutes per minute, the second half opened with another rose elimination. Now down to 4 women, big chairs were brought out. The bachelor got to ask each woman questions. The big chairs are large so the bachelor can go sit next to the woman if he wants to. Two of the women had children in grade school which surprised me. I had a hard time imagining myself on a show like this with my children. But let’s face it, if your single with kids and you want to date you have to put yourself out there.
After the chairs, we were down to two and the fantasy suite. A colorful bed with gauzy screens was pushed on stage. The bachelor picked his two top choices. While one couple was in the suite for 3 minutes, the other sat on stage visiting with one of the hosts. The first couple engaged in necking because we heard a lot of cheers from the main floor. Our seats were in the mezzanine, no peaking through the gauze from that vantage point. When the first woman jumped out of the suite, her dress was unzipped. The second young woman obviously more cautious tucked her legs demurely beneath her when she hopped on the bed providing a physical barrier.
In the end, our bachelor picked the second young woman. She was an audience favorite. With a psychology degree from Boise State University, she worked at Saint Vincent dePaul with homeless clients. Her dating plan was to go hiking in the Sawtooth Mountains. Besides showcasing caring and adventure, she was stunningly gorgeous with a perky pony tail, lithe body encased in a tasteful twinkling midnight blue mid-calf, slip dress with spaghetti straps. Our airman got lucky.
The Bachelor Live is different every night depending on the Bachelor, ladies, and audience. Boise is a good place for audience engagement and I think everyone had a great time. I wouldn’t pay to go again but I would recommend it if you are interested in a fun girls night out.
P.S. Ladies if you ever get on stage and you don’t know what you’ll be asked to do wear a jump suit. The contestants in jump suits looked great, could do everything asked without worrying about their skirts creeping up and were able to move better than those in long dresses.
This past week I experienced problems with Starbucks’mobile app. The subsequent follow-up through on their mobile helpline was horrendous. I now know the frustration volunteers experienced in Iowa with the Democratic Caucus, though I live in Idaho. I sat waiting 30 minutes to get a real person on the Starbucks phone line. During this period, I listened to terrible electronic music and a pleasant female voice would break in periodically and say, “Help will be available shortly”.
Here was my problem. The Starbucks app automatically downloaded $25 on Wednesday. On Thursday without being near a Starbucksmy phone was reporting that I had $.67 and needed to reload. I was able to purchase two lattes for a friend and I during the Starbucks Thursday happy hour. I received a receipt saying I had $20.42 remaining, the correct amount. But my phone app continued to report $.67 available and direct me to add more funds. The Starbucks’ baristas told me to call the helpline but had no number. One barista told me that her mother’s Starbucks account had been hacked and she lost $60. The barista suggested I had been hacked and lost my money. She recommended that I change my password immediately.
Given the potential for hacking, I called the helpline as soon as I was home. Erin, the helpline assistant, was very pleasant but he had difficulty helping me also. He finally contacted his supervisor. I spent a total of 60 minutes on the helpline. Erin came back from visiting with his supervisor and told me I was locked out of my account following his advice. I was given a reference number and told to call back in 24 hours. I would need to go through the same phone triage and wait again. At which point, maybe someone else could help me.
I am pleased to let my readers know I solved the problem myself or more likely some anonymous person in Starbuckstech land fixed the glitch overnight. When I successfully logged in the next day, everything was working perfectly.
I now have great sympathy for the volunteers in the Iowa Democratic Caucus. We are increasingly dependent on technology. When an app doesn’t work correctly, we are dependent on anonymous voices stationed all over the world to help us.
I believe a huge, successful, customer-service company like Starbucks can afford to pay enough people to not have folks waiting substantial amounts of time on the phone. At the very least they could offer to call back so the customer is not chained to the phone. Starbucks is known for their great customer service. Yet their move into mobile apps is thwart with squirrelly technology errors and back to the past phone system.
Friday, January 24 was the start of McCall, Idaho annual Winter Carnival. This family centri event is bound to please all the snow hounds in your household with everything from gorgeous snow sculptures to fireworks, parade, dog sledding and mongrel racing. Of course there are all the snow events; downhill skiing, skating, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, and sledding. We go almost every year and I am always amazed by the local creativity and work that goes into the sculptures.
We go every year. I remember the kids finding the big piles of snow to crawl on better than the sculptures. Their dad is still delighted by snow. He likes to knock it off our cabin roof. He loves to chop wood and fill the wood stove to make our cabin really cozy. The Winter Carnival offers something for everyone, a place to make family memories of good times in snowy weather.
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.
I had major surgery in August and was on a non-weight bearing cast through November. The last six weeks, I have been attending physical therapy twice a week. The surgery was to replace a torn tendon in my left foot. I had been wearing a specially made black leather boot the year before but finally even it was not providing enough support.
Boot in Hawaii
Non-weight bearing cast
The surgeon took out the tendon. She described it as a rubber band stretched beyond capacity and replaced it with screws. I have 12 new screws in my foot. I ponder occasionally if this has added to my body weight or could it be six weeks without exercise. I haven’t flown since the surgery but I am now one of those bionic people who you don’t want to get behind in airport security lines. I am sure to set off every alarm.
Screws inserted in foot
Foot when cast removed
My friendly scooter
When I agreed to this surgery, I wanted to keep the movement in my foot so I could swim, dance and ride my horse. My foot doesn’t move right or left but does flex up and down. As a non-physician, I totally under-estimated the toll this surgery would have on my ability to do anything. All fall I was on a scooter. While I could drive, I couldn’t get out of the car because I couldn’t lift the scooter out of the back while hopping on one foot. Most of my friends couldn’t wield the scooter around either. Fortunately, my husband could take me for rides. The taxi service, while expensive, was dependable when I absolutely had to be somewhere i.e. a doctor’s appointment.
Once the cast was off, I was expecting to walk out of the doctor’s office. But after 3.5 months in a cast, I was back in a boot. Six weeks into physical therapy and I can ride a recumbent exercise bike at level 10 for 20 minutes and walk on a treadmill at 2.0 miles per hour (snail’s pace) for 10 minutes. This is all with my brace on. I am learning to walk at home without a brace. I am dancing in the playroom to our boom box. I started at 5 minutes and I’m up to about 8 minutes a day. My goal is 30 minutes so I can go back to Jazzercise. Riding my horse and electric bike are somewhere off in the future. When the PT said I could attend water aerobics, I was ecstatic.
Today, I walked down to the pool (no brace), used the steps to get into the kids’ end and floated off to the deep end with one foot feeling like I had a rock tied on. I was absolutely thrilled. The warm water lapped around me. My friends said “Hello!” The dance music and instructor kept us kicking and splashing for 45 minutes. Afterwards, I was able to get up the steps, shower, wash my hair and be on way.
I felt almost normal again, almost.
As I enter a new year, I am looking forward to celebrating the little successes in life; getting up in the morning, reading the paper, walking, and swimming. These are things I use to take for granted as I chased some mandatory “to do list”. Now they are the things I most enjoy. I feel blessed I’ve been given the opportunity in the new year to dive in again.
We built our house in 2004 for our two kids. Each child has a bedroom/bathroom on the second floor and there is giant playroom on the upper floor where video war games can be played at high decibels without interfering with adults in the lower regions. The upper floor is now empty most of the year, ghostly quiet. But this Christmas both my son and daughter are home to share the holidays with us. This is a special gift because both are young adults who have many friends and active lives in other cities far from Boise.
One of the gifts of our house is it transforms into a Christmas house when we decorate. We have 20 foot ceilings in the living room and a huge gas and rock fireplace. There is plenty of space to host a spectacular Christmas tree and hang stockings with care. We have downsized the tree and our decorations as we have aged but even on a smaller scale the house provides a cozy, Christmas haven.
The house also reflects who we are. There is a large golden retriever Christmas decoration on the front porch. We love our animals. We had a gold lab for many years, named Annie, who we all adored. Our wreath inside also carries on the animal theme.
I collect decorations from all our travels so I have many rare gems such as hand painted eggs from Prague and hand-blown angels from Venice, just to name a couple.
But my favorite ornaments are the ones the kids have made me over the years. They are little tidbits of love memorialized for our tree.
Christmas is in two days, then my son flies back off to Seattle and his other life. My daughter is having surgery for a torn ACL while skiing. So the Christmas spirit at our house is brief. But while it’s here, I will delight in the decorations that showcase a family’s life built on love and trust.
May the spirit of Christmas be with you this season and throughout the year.
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.