Here we are, slowly making our way out into the world on this last Saturday in June. Welcome to my 10th cocktail hour, during a time where we venture a bit further from home and enjoy a beverage. I offer you Cheers! À votre santé! 乾杯/ Kanpai! Saúde! Salud! May we all remain healthy, safe, financially afloat, and hopeful.
Here’s my Covid-19 diary for the June. I finished up my project for May, which was to take a different walk every day, draw a map and write my thoughts for the day.
Saturday, May 30: Today, I walked with Poonam, one of my Spanish class classmates.
Sunday, May 31: Today, Mike and I walked at Riverbend Park, which was open for the first time since mid-March.
As of Tuesday, June 2, I could add “- the words of those peaceful protestors who were gassed before curfew by the so-called President of the United States as he hijacked an Episcopal Church and a Bible for a photo op, without the permission of the Episcopal bishop.”
June, 2020: On June 2, religious leaders and Democrats and some Republicans expressed dismay “about the nakedly political optics of the president brandishing a Bible after threatening to deploy the military to crack down on protesters.” On June 3, unrest continued over racism and #blacklivesmatter in America with thousands descending on Washington in peaceful protests: Thousands descend on D.C. protests to push back on Trump’s show of federal force. Protestors stated their goal was to protest peacefully, inspired by Martin Luther King. I hoped the protests would stay peaceful, because violence would backfire on them and on our society as a whole. “This is what democracy looks like!” many chanted.
I read a blog recently by a woman in the U.S. where she presented a kind of a manifesto of sorts: “I believe this, I believe that….” I read it and thought, at first glance, that it made sense, but then I immediately felt uncomfortable about it. When I looked at it more carefully, I saw her comment: “I believe all lives matter.” Then I looked at her other beliefs, and saw a resemblance to Trump’s comments about the violence in Charlottesville, VA in the first year of his presidency, where he said there were good people on both sides. Her post focused too much on the violence of the protests, and too little on the peaceful nature of most protests. She focused on the killing of blacks vs. blacks in American cities, with no apparent sympathy for the kind of systemic oppression that keeps them in poverty and makes them feel desperate and hopeless.
To say “All lives matter” in this time is to be both tone-deaf and insensitive. Of course all lives matter, but this minimizes, even ignores, the particular plight of African-Americans in America since the founding of our country. They have been systematically oppressed in every imaginable way, as regards job opportunities, housing, health care, policing, and myriad other ways I don’t even understand. White people have been hoarding opportunity and equity, at the expense of people of color, for as long as our nation was conceived. As a white person, not only am I appalled by the nasty racism overtly expressed by so many, but I’m appalled at my own ignorance and my own participation in this oppression simply by taking advantage of my white privilege.
We have a long way to go in the country, and the sooner we learn to understand the plight of our African-American citizens, to sympathize with them and to be angry alongside them, the sooner we can start to make systemic changes. I know I have a lot to learn, but I don’t want to be one of those white people who simply “joins book clubs” to educate myself. We need to be kinder to one another, to lift up people of color, to celebrate them. We need to hold them in our hearts and to absolutely insist that “Black Lives Matter.”
I have been angered watching the protests, but not so much at their violence. I can understand their anger, and I can understand people bashing in store fronts and burning police cars. I was furious watching Trump’s political stunt where he unleashed unidentified “soldiers” to tear gas peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square so he could have a “photo op” holding up a Bible, which I would bet he’s never opened in his life. Trump and white apologists say that 99% of police are good, so there are only a few bad apples. If that is the case, why are there so many videos of unreasonable police brutality in dealing with people of color and protesters? I can only imagine how many incidents have taken place when no cameras were rolling.
What is to be celebrated are the multi-racial make up of the protests, the statements of support from many businesses and even the NFL (although I’d say it’s too little too late), the peaceful response of many police forces, who knelt with protestors or marched with them. What is to celebrated is the absolute right to protest abuses by our government, of which there are many. What is to be celebrated is anyone who speaks out against our racist president and his enablers, white nationalists and supremacists. Justice and equal opportunity are too slow in coming for African-Americans, and it is a blight on our country that we must work to cleanse, from inside out.
On Friday, June 5, D.C. Mayor Muriel Browser renamed the intersection near the church where Trump posed for a photo op earlier this week “Black Lives Matter Plaza.” She also commissioned a huge mural in bold yellow paint that says Black Lives Matter and stretches over two blocks near the White House.
Saturday, June 6, we went out to our first restaurant since mid-March. Because of the heat and humidity in Virginia, there aren’t many restaurants with outdoor seating, but in Phase 1 in Virginia, only restaurants with outdoor seating are open to serve customers. We went to the Lebanese Taverna, where sadly the menu was much reduced and was missing many of my favorite dishes. However, it was still lovely to sit on their patio, and enjoy a glass of wine with a sampling of meze.
On Sunday, June 7, we drove out to Philip Carter Winery of Virginia. On a breezy and sunny day, we sat outdoors at the winery and shared snacks and wine and enjoyed the setting.
On Monday, June 8, I finally saw an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist, who did a nasal endoscopy. He found no polyps or anything else unusual, except for liquid bubbling up from above my voice box. He said I had laryngopharyngeal reflux, and it didn’t seem that bad. I had been taking Prilosec for 10 days at that time, and I had actually started feeling a bit better that morning! Isn’t that what always happens when you go see a doctor? He told me I should change my diet, cutting out any acidic or fatty foods like citrus and tomatoes, eliminate caffeine and alcohol. And to continue taking Prilosec, that sometimes this can take a couple of months to sort itself out. As if my life isn’t miserable enough under a pandemic, now I have to change my diet, eliminating all the things I enjoy, like coffee, wine, tomatoes and oranges!
Today was my sister’s 62nd birthday, so all of my siblings and I got on Zoom for a happy hour. It was fun to get together with all of them.
On Tuesday, I went back to the allergist, who did more tests on me. She found I have allergies to mold, dust mites, grass, and only a moderate degree to tree pollen. She recommended I change some of my bedding to allergen-impermeable covers, which ended up being quite expensive just for pillow, mattress and box spring covers. Recommendations are to also replace the comforter and the carpet and anything where dust mites can live. Also to decrease humidity in the house. After I told her the results of the ENT, she believed that I have some allergies, some reflux, and some lingering effects in my sinuses from when I first got sick in early March, after my sister-in-law, who was sick, visited.
So it seems I have problems from above and below!! It was so frustrating not to have an easy fix for my problems.
We went to the farmer’s market for the first time; everyone was required to wear masks and keep socially distanced from vendors and other shoppers.
We went to dinner at Kalypso’s at Lake Anne on Saturday night the 13th. It was so lovely to have dinner at a restaurant again. Of course, I missed my normal dish of grilled halloumi and wine because of my diet changes. 😦
I continued my Spanish classes by Zoom through the month. I continued walking and had a massage by a young man who told me all about his holistic coaching dreams. My son in Denver has started a personal training certification and has a couple of clients already; he continues doing Doordash for income.
On June 14, we drove into D.C. to see the new Black Lives Matter Plaza. It wasn’t too crowded and vendors were set up selling Black Lives Matter t-shirts. The White House was fenced in with multiple layers of fencing, decorated with protest signs. Most people were walking around quietly with masks on, although D.C. always has its share of homeless people shouting out streams of invective. Most of the businesses in the area were boarded up, as nothing much was open in the city anyway. The BLACK LIVES MATTER mural was quite impressive, and I thought the signs to be apropos. It was Mike’s idea to bring the book by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Leadership in Turbulent Times, to pose at the spot, in front of the historic St. John’s Church, where Trump posed with the Bible after attacking protestors with rubber bullets, batons and tear gas. We both believe we need leadership during these turbulent times, and the leader we have is incapable of leading.
I’m working hard to educate myself on #BlackLivesMatter and racism in America. We watched the movie 13th, about how race, justice and mass incarceration intersect in the U.S. The title refers to the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1865, which abolished slavery throughout the United States and ended involuntary servitude except as a punishment for conviction of a crime. Basically, since slavery was abolished, people of color are incarcerated in huge numbers, and while in prison often do slave labor, so they actually are still serving as slaves!
On June 19, we watched the movie 2014 movie Selma, which chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. It showed the Bloody Sunday attack on peaceful protestors in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965.
During my walks, I also listened to a 6-episode NPR podcast, White Lies, about the murder of Jim Reeb, a Unitarian Minister who came to Selma after the attacks at the call of Martin Luther King, Jr. He was beaten and murdered by four white men who were angry over Civil Rights activists who were “invading” their town and supporting the cause of black people. It was an excellent podcast that told the story in a masterful way; it exposed all the killers for who they were, even though none were ever punished for their murderous behavior. All of them are dead today, but it was shocking to me that ALL of Selma’s white residents lied during the trial, and continue to lie even to this day, about Jim Reeb’s murder.
Trump had his COVID rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday, June 20, and though he’d touted over a million people requesting tickets, only over 6,000 showed up. In my eyes, even 6,000 is too many, but I was glad to see attendance fall short. NO ONE should be attending this criminal’s rallies. I would like to see ZERO attendance, but there are still too many people in this country, who like Selma’s residents in 1965, hold on to their white grievances and allow themselves to be brainwashed by a charlatan who brazenly voices their deep-seated hatred for others, on whom they can pin blame for their own failures.
For Father’s day on June 21, we went to East Wind Vietnamese restaurant, our first indoor restaurant experience since March 14. The owner, who is always very friendly with us, told us he really hopes more people will come out because business has been hurt badly by the pandemic.
On Sunday, June 22, which happened to be Father’s Day, we went to a garden center to get some plants for our screened-in porch, so our outdoor space is now more inviting. We also went to a bike store to pick up a helmet for me, so I can start riding my bike. I also bought some bike shorts and a water bottle. 🙂
As of today, I’ve been on the Prilosec for 28 days, and I’ve been following the non-acidic, caffeine- and alcohol-free diet for 18 days. I’m still not much better, but I’m trying to be patient as the doctor said it could take a couple of months to clear up. I’ve read about people who are taking these medicines for 20-30 years!! I’m not at all happy about that.
I went on my first bike ride in over 10 years, and my goal was to ride 10 miles. I made it 9.12 miles, and by the time I got back, my butt was killing me and I was stiff from being in that biking position for an hour! I’m obviously in bad shape for biking. My goal is to ride at least one time each week, and hopefully I can eventually increase my distance.
We heard from our son in Nicaragua, and he said he has moved to a new house, but may be camping out next month on the beach. He said he went to an “epic canyon adventure/cliff jumping and surfing in Popoyo” and that he’s “absolutely obsessed with surfing right now.” He said after one more month at the house, he will camp on the beach and live the surf life for a while. I imagine he must be running out of money, but he hasn’t asked us for any, yet.
I didn’t do very well on my goal of doing one practice watercolor a day. I almost gave up after I had to throw out a couple. Here are my results for the few I did. I obviously need to practice a lot more, and take some more classes. Several were inspired by Instagram artists I follow; their names are on the paintings. 🙂
My goal for July will be to continue something I started after my Camino, which was to write a two-line poem for each day of my Camino. Later, I want to combine some of these two line poems into one poem.
Our leadership has certainly succeeded in “Making America Great Again!” We have the highest number of COVID cases in the world, 2,483,463 as of June 28, 2020, and the highest number of deaths at 125,033. Worldwide, there are 9,825,402 cases and 494,822 deaths. The U.S. has 25% of worldwide cases and deaths, despite having only 4.2% of the population.
Aren’t we the greatest?? Because COVID has been politicized and Trump supporters in their bottomless idiocy have refused to wear masks and continue to gather in large groups, our numbers are now increasing. We’re not in a second wave, as we never recovered from the first wave.
Luckily, here in Virginia we are doing better than much of the country, with 60,570 cases and 1,700 deaths. Our governor has imposed restrictions and has made rules about mask wearing inside public places, and for the most part, at least in Northern Virginia, people seem to be following the guidelines. As of July 1, we will move to Phase 3, with businesses being able to increase their capacity, but still face masks will be required. I believe Club Pilates will reopen and I can start taking Pilates again.
As for the country as a whole, what murderous behavior is exhibited by our leadership! We are failing miserably as a country, and we’ve become the laughingstock of the world. Even the EU has banned American travelers and I don’t blame them at all. I’m ashamed that we as a country have come to this, and I am pledging, come hell or high water, to get to the polls on November 3 to vote the corrupt and evil criminals out.
In the midst of all this, what can we do as restrictions are relaxed and we make our way out into the world again? I’ve created a page where I’ll share different ideas I’ve come across of ways to cope during the coronavirus. It is here: how to make the most of a staycation... or how to cope during the coronavirus #Stayathome orders. If you have any positive ways to get through this, I invite you to share: bits of humor, projects, what we can do to help others, how to keep our sanity, TV shows or movies to watch, books to read, exercises to do, etc. Please feel free to express your emotions during this trying time as well. I’m sure we can all relate to any and all emotions you are feeling.
I wish you all the best during this “new normal.” Stay at home, or close to home, and stay safe, healthy and always hopeful.
I’m going to write a cocktail hour/diary about this challenging time, but I’m only going to write one during the month of July, on Saturday, July 25. I invite you to share your own experiences with what we’re going through right now, either in the comments below, or in your own blog post, which I invite you to link below. I’ll try to keep writing this as long as we are suffering through this together. I hope that we will get through it unscathed, sooner rather than later.
Peace and love be with you all!