an august happy hour during coronavirus

Here we are, continuing to expand our horizons on this 4th Saturday in August. Welcome to my 12th 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.

We’ve been getting out more.  I still go out every day for either a walk, a walk/jog, a bikeride, weightlifting, or Pilates.  We’ve been out to eat numerous times: bartaco, P.F. Chang, Artie’s, and Istanbul Blue – all indoor venues.  We go in wearing a mask, all the servers wear masks, and we put on our masks when interacting with the servers.  We also go early, when the restaurant is nearly empty.


Tropical Storm Isaias moved through around the 3rd and 4th of the month, bringing boatloads of rain.

On Saturday, August 8, we went to the National Museum of Women in the Arts in D.C. to see “Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico.”  The museum recently opened and required face masks and social distancing.

From early in Graciela Iturbide’s career, she embraced photography as a way to engage in a profound exploration of her country. Her works from the 1970s and early 1980s reveal Mexico’s hybrid culture, acutely observing its contrasts and complexities. Iturbide’s photos also highlight her attraction to the unusual geometries of Mexico City and her keen eye for the unexpected.

When Frida Kahlo died in 1954, her grief-stricken husband muralist Diego Rivera, took her personal belongings and locked them in her bathroom in her home, the Casa Azul, in Mexico City. Fifty years later, the space was finally opened, and Graciela Iturbide was commissioned to photograph it.

In Iturbide’s series about Frida’s bathroom we enter into the legendary painter’s private life and encounter a composite portrait of Kahlo’s suffering and resilience. They represent a visual and emotional narrative of the intimate space and of objects that symbolize sickness and healing. Kahlo contracted polio as a child; at eighteen, she survived a near-fatal bus accident, sustaining grave injuries that required numerous surgeries throughout her life. Eventually, she had one leg amputated. During her recovery, she began painting – a pursuit that brought Kahlo both solace and international fame.

Both Iturbide and Kahlo have seen their art as a form of therapy and escape. According to Iturbide, “…in life everything is connected: your pain, your imagination, which perhaps can help you forget reality. It’s a way of showing how you can connect what you live with what you dream, and what you dream with what you do, and that is what remains on paper.” (From a sign at the exhibit)

We also saw the regular collection at the museum, which is known as “the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts,” according to the website.

After visiting the museum, we had lunch at Jaleo. In D.C., even patrons inside restaurants are supposed to wear masks unless they are actively eating or drinking. Everyone in the city is required to wear masks inside and outside (unless vigorously exercising). In Virginia, we’re only required to wear them indoors.

On August 11, Joe Biden picked Kamala Harris as his Vice Presidential running mate and later in the month, the Democratic National Convention kicked off, virtually. I’m feeling hope for the Democratic ticket and for the country in general. If Trump is elected again in November, I feel we are doomed.

I am still dealing with my laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR).  I finally had an appointment with a nurse practitioner at the gastroenterologist’s office on July 30.  She scheduled me for an Upper Endoscopy (EGD) on August 14 in order to give a proper diagnosis and treatment. She prescribed another stronger PPI (similar to Nexium but stronger), Dexilant, to try before the EGD. I did not respond well to it so discontinued it. I continued on the The Acid Watcher Diet: A 28-Day Reflux Prevention and Healing Program, by Dr. Jonathan Aviv. I started the diet in this book on Monday, July 6; it is much more restrictive than the list given to me by the ENT.  I’ve been on some version of the diet for 48 days now, and a positive side effect is that I’ve lost over 10 pounds. However, the change in diet hasn’t helped my reflux.

The upper endoscopy on 8/14/20 revealed my lower esophageal sphincter is not working; it is totally open, meaning that every time I eat, everything just goes right back up my esophagus and into my throat.  The doctor said I could be a candidate for a procedure called Stretta, an endoscopically-guided, minimally invasive outpatient procedure performed by a doctor in about 60 minutes. A Stretta Catheter delivers radiofrequency energy to the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and gastric cardia. I’ve read it has a high rate of effectiveness. 

Before I could qualify for the procedure, I had to have a upper GI x-ray with barium to see if my esophagus and digestive system is working as it should.  It worried me that the x-ray doctor said that my digestion seemed sluggish, so I worry that will prohibit me from having the procedure. I will meet the doctor next week for a consult.  I’m hoping for the best, because my quality of life now is miserable, and I’m willing to try anything.

Before I had the Upper Endoscopy, the anesthetist asked me to open my mouth so she could see my teeth. She took note of crowns and fillings. To do the procedure, they put a hard plastic mouthpiece, with a hole in the center, in my mouth. The next day, one of my teeth was hurting so much that couldn’t chew on my right side. Luckily, I already had a dentist appointment for Tuesday, so he checked it out. He told me I had a crack right down the middle of the tooth, and it would have to be extracted. There was no saving it. I had the extraction done on Friday the 21st. After three months of healing, I will have to have an implant. The dentist didn’t think the plastic mouthpiece used in the endoscopy caused the crack, but it probably exacerbated what might have been a hairline crack.

I am throwing up my hands in surrender: 2020 is unfolding as the worst year ever, possibly the worst in my entire life. Between the problems with my son at the beginning of the year, my sprained ankle in February, and then getting sick with this reflux problem on March 5 and being misdiagnosed for months, COVID, lockdown and endless restrictions on travel and movement, and now having a molar extracted followed by an implant. The reflux problem continues without responding to medication…. It never seems to end. I told my dentist after he informed me of the bad news, “Twenty-twenty is the worst year of my life, and COVID is the least of my problems!”

The only positive thing on the horizon is that we are going to go to Chicago on August 25-31. We had planned the trip for May, but now things in Virginia and Illinois are about equal with numbers of COVID cases, so we’re allowed to travel. We’ll have to wear masks in public in Chicago, but we have to do that here too. It’s better than continuing to be stuck at home.

My main goal for the remaining months of 2020 is to finish writing all blog posts through my travels so far. I’m still hoping to finish them by December 16, because my subscription with WordPress will expire on that date. Whatever doesn’t get done, doesn’t get done. I plan to take at least a year off from blogging, maybe more, so I’d like to get caught up on my backlog before then.


We still have the highest number of COVID cases in the world, over 5,636,400 as of August 22, 2020, and the highest number of deaths at 175,298. Worldwide, there are nearly 23 million cases and nearly 800,000 deaths. The U.S. has 24.5% of worldwide cases and 21.9% of deaths, despite having only 4.2% of the population.

Here in Virginia, we are somewhat better off than much of the country, with 110,860 cases and 2,436 deaths. Our governor has started easing 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. However, since the state has begun to reopen businesses, cases have increased, especially in southern Virginia.


I’m writing a monthly cocktail hour/diary about this challenging time; if I write another one, it will be Saturday, September 19.  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 hope that we will get through it unscathed, sooner rather than later.

Peace and love be with you all!