Category Archives: Family

“Corona Virus Blues” | Don McAlister’s Blogsite

Written by my former (and last) manager at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, these are contemporary blues lyrics. The tune is up to you. If you know 12 bar blues, it shouldn’t be all that difficult to gin something up.

Written by Don McAlister, 6/28/20 as a standard 12 bar blues song.

When this all got started
We didn’t have a clue
‘Bout how crazy things would get
And change everything we knew.

At first it didn’t seem that bad
The danger wasn’t clear
Then cases started popping up
West and East, and then right here.

And now it was a crisis
Affecting me and you
We got it bad
Corona Virus Blues!

CHORUS: We got a virus out to kill us
And it don’t care ‘bout who
And the only way to slow it down
Is to change the things we do.

We gotta stay six feet apart
And cover up our faces
Stay away from bars
Only eat at takeout places.

We’ve been hunkered down for months now
Watchin’ movies and the news
Yeah we got it bad
Corona Virus Blues!

Some folks got tired of hearing
What they should and shouldn’t do
And they protested and said
It was time to loosen rules.

Gov’nors felt the pressure
And opened up some places
But still asked us to distance
And cover up our faces

But it got out of hand again
Careless gatherings and booze
Infections started spiking up and
And now we’ve still got Corona Virus Blues!

(Repeat CHORUS and end)

Source: “Corona Virus Blues” | Don McAlister’s Blogsite


Isolation. It’s Like Forever Only Much Shorter-Part 2

This is the second post by my long-time friend, Susan Marlow. Her first post was published on 28 March 2020 and this is somewhat of a follow-up.

by Susan Marlow – 18 May 2020

Each morning now after more than three months of restriction and isolation I wake up feeling constricted.  As I come to, a small gasp escapes out of me and I realize I am still here and still isolated.  I feel saddened as I realize this time is all too precious.  I have adapted to this thing we call quarantine and I can continue, but I am not enjoying the isolation as much now.

I grumble my acceptance of this new way of life and stretch my body out on the mattress which we meant to replace months ago when it hit the ten year mark of discomfort.  With no store to shop for it this mattress is condemned to continue servicing me. Then I take a deep breath of recognition that my day has begun.  I thank God for this day.

Since I began in late February I have continued with my gardening and composting.  I have 37 gallons of beautiful, sweet smelling dirt which will soon be ready for my garden.  Meanwhile, I am experimenting with how to grow vegetables from food that we eat by planting the roots and stems.  I have a big tub of bright green tubers growing from bits of potatoes.  No potato famine here at this house.  Come to think of it what does one potato cost?  No matter . . . this is my victory garden.

The wall surrounding our pool equipment has been painted bright blue.  The dog has had his hair cut a little- oh lucky pooch.  My hair continues to grow like corn stalks sticking out every which way after the hay is collected into mounds,.  Nothing to be done about that. I was already white haired before our quarantine began so I do not have to see one color disappear slowly in an awkward manner.

I am beginning to book zoom meets on my calendar—some back to back.  It’s like being back at work with appointments to keep.  Two zooms are for Funerals and one is for sitting Shiva.   Today I will exercise with ladies in Woodstock, New York via zoom.  The next birthday zoom is for someone who turns 100. Life and death continue.

During my long period of study and introspection I have come across two items which tell the story of how others, also restricted and far more deprived, nevertheless found ways to cope with fear, death, and massive loss of personal freedom,  They too have left remembrances of a once impossibly difficult time in our not-too-distant past. From these little keepsakes we see the human spirit is quite resilient and forever hopeful.

The first is a delicate small fan, not unlike a cocktail fan, known by the name of a Wagasa.  Look closely and you will see a familiar character; the symbol of Camel cigarettes. These delicate little fans were created using the only spare items available-in this case cigarette packages. It took great patience and a fine delicate handwork to create one of these. Even though it now resembles a little mai tai cocktail fan it has far more to say to us. Behind the stark wooden walls of an internment camp in the desert an unknown  human spirit lived and created such beauty with whatever they had at hand while they patiently waited to see if their lives would, at some unknown point, resume and in what manner.

Japanese Umbrella
A Miniature Wagasa (Umbrella) made of Camel Cigarette Packs, Toothpicks, and thread

I also invite you to look at a tiny deck of cards, pictured below. Each one hand inscribed and beautifully drawn by my father during a perilous escape from Nazi Europe to Palestine, which was a beacon of safety and promise to Jews. This was a working deck of cards created from mini cigarette packages available during WWII.  You can see a handwritten inscription in Latin on just one card, the Ace of Spades, Athlit, November 13, 1940.  It is a poem and prayer by Horace, the Roman poet.

By then my father had been on that boat between 9-12 months. Those desperate souls were left on board a Turkish coal ship for many, many months.  This was not a passenger ship. The bathrooms consisted of “walking the plank” and squatting out over the ocean in full view.  There were no private rooms, just a large open space for coal storage.  The “rooms” were created by internal scaffolding.  This was an exodus boat headed to Israel carrying 2300 Jews from all corners of Europe.  Perhaps they would be allowed to land or perhaps they would be turned back—like the St. Louis—to almost certain death. Meanwhile, those on board this boat waited and played cards together with a deck constructed of Chesterfield, Pall Mall, or Lucky Strikes packages patiently collected and artfully created. They waited as we wait.

So I look around and begin to think, what will I leave behind during this time of Covid19 to show my family that, while this isolation may seem like forever, it is actually far less.  I try to embrace this time of waiting.  I try not to think of the time as lost to me.  It is my personal journey yes, but without the cigarettes!


Gloomy

A Little Spring Backtrack

I didn’t really realize until Linda pointed it out, but helping my youngest with her classes is forcing me to relive High School . . . and I hated it! I cut so frequently, it took me an extra semester and two excruciating terms of Summer school to graduate. And she’s only a sophomore!

Concurrently, time is beginning to exert itself. I had no trouble keeping up with my kids through my sixties, but my energy level is waning, probably exacerbated by the need to stay put, which results in lack of exercise and eating a little too much . . . of some of the “wrong” things.

Oh, well. It’s raining (actually, mostly drizzling) outside, so gloomy seems to fit the moment.


Thank You, I Think

This post is from my old blog, The Cranky Curmudgeon. It was written nearly 14 years ago, shortly after my oldest’s fifth birthday.

Well, Hallmark Thinks It’s Important, And They Have No Vested Interest . . . Right?

So what is it with Thank You cards? When did they become de rigeur . . . a fixture of every child’s birthday and gift-giving Winter solstice celebration?

My daughter celebrated her 5th birthday recently and we had a party for over twenty children and adults. We provided entertainment for the children, lots of food and drink for everybody, really nice loot bags for the kids, a large cake, and a pinata filled with lots of candy. My wife spent around a week’s worth of her spare time researching and purchasing everything necessary to make the kids feel special. This included purchasing inexpensive cowboy/cowgirl hats and bandanas, as the party was held at a nearby farm where the kids could feed animals and enjoy some really fun and clever rides. I spent a good 10 – 15 hours running around and picking up things and making arrangements. We really wanted everyone to have a good time.

Now comes the aftermath. My wife is not the best at sending out Thank You cards, and I have virtually no experience doing it at all. I mean, isn’t it against the law for men to do this kind of thing – no matter how sensitive they are? So . . . here it is, a couple of weeks later and the cards she took the time to purchase are still sitting on the table . . . in their original box. They’re taunting me. Like chocolate in a candy dish, I sometimes hear them calling out my name.

Isn’t a sincere “Thank You” at the party’s end enough for everybody? I don’t know; maybe she feels better about not doing it than I do, but why do I have this sinking feeling we must carry some sort of guilt because we have yet to send a hand-written, personalized note written by us as though it was our child channeling Emily Post or Martha Stewart?

Here’s an example of a Thank You we received the day after a 5-year-old’s birthday party:

Thank for coming to my birthday party. I was really happy you could be there. The Spiderman backpack will be really useful next year in Kindergarten to carry my laptop as I’m learning how to post covered calls without the help of my broker.

Now how are we going to follow that?


Ladd Provisions Memorabilia

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve done quite a few newsletters over the years. I think I started doing them in part because it was what my father had done aboard ship during World War II, when he served as a Radioman in the U.S. Navy. I used to have a collection of his newsletters, which would be about five years older than me now. They might still be in a box somewhere in our garage. Maybe I’ll find out one of these days.

At any rate, here is a newsletter I found recently. I’m just posting it here because I scanned it and want to preserve it. Now I can throw away (recycle) the paper copy which, as you can see, is discolored from age. A quarter century is a fairly long time for it to have lasted. I probably shouldn’t have kept it, but I’m a paper pack rat.


Feng Shui or Marie Kondo?

Funny how being mostly confined to your house gives you a lot of time on your hands. After over a month of familial isolation, I think I’m finally getting used to what will likely be my existence for up to another year; maybe more. The reason I expect it to take that long for me to feel comfortable going to the gym or eating out at restaurants has to do with my vulnerability to this virus. I will be 73 in a little over a month. I have type II diabetes, essential hypertension, stage 2 kidney disease, and mild COPD. All of these health issues are normally well-controlled but, with COVID-19 that quite likely won’t matter. Ergo, great caution is warranted, IMO.

So . . . what am I doing with that time? Well, it generally doesn’t feel like much, though I do spend a lot more time planning our grocery shopping. I would prefer to have our groceries delivered, but nobody was doing a very good job of it for the first few weeks of this social isolation effort. At first, I went online and spent anywhere from a half hour to forty-five minutes carefully choosing what I wanted to have delivered, only to discover when attempting to check out that there were no times available. Frustrating! That’s beginning to change and I’ve been able to successfully get a couple of deliveries. This necessarily includes several disconnects (for instance, I had coffee from Trader Joe’s delivered but forgot to ask the woman who did the shopping to grind it for us.) Also, nobody picks fruit and some other things the way I do, and we normally shop from a half-dozen different stores depending on what it is we’re purchasing. That’s no longer possible for now.

I also find I’m spending a fair amount of time helping my 16-year-old with her homework, some of which requires a significant investment of time. Today I learned (or re-learned) a lot of stuff about the difference between Napoleonic warfare and WWI warfare, so I could help her answer questions about them. I don’t think I’m capable of helping her with her algebra homework. Although I was in one of the first classes in the Los Angeles Unified School District allowed to take Algebra in the second semester of eighth grade (in 1961) I don’t remember a damned thing about it and I don’t recognize anything when I look at the equations she has to work with. Frankly, I’m not relishing revisiting high school; it was a disaster when I was a student from 1962 to 1966 (one extra semester as a result of cutting far too many classes.)

Now, the point of this post isn’t to regale you on all the ways in which I’m coping—or not—with this pandemic lock-down. I just want to share something I found while straightening out some of the clutter in my office. This “Birthday” card, homemade by my brother’s daughters almost 28 years ago, was in a bag with old photos, etc. I decided to scan it and I’ve share it on Facebook. I want to share it here as well. It warms my heart. My nieces were four and seven at the time.

It WAS a happy birthday; my 45th

Happy Holidays!!

Although I am an atheist, I was raised in a predominantly Christian country, in a Conservative Jewish family (I’m bar mitzvah) and am well aware of the importance of both Easter and Passover. They no longer (or never did) carry any religious significance for me, but they do (in the broadest sense) carry a great deal of spiritual significance . . . in terms of the import of each holiday’s lessons on the human condition.

So . . . without going into great detail to assert my bona fides when it comes to all things religious, I just want to wish my Yiddishe meshpuchah, chag Pesach kasher vesame’ach, and my Christian friends and family (yes, there be Catholics in mine) a blessed and joyful Easter.

In this trying time we’re experiencing, we can use the dual messages of liberation from slavery and oppression, and the dialectic of life and death that both these holidays bring us. May we come out of this pandemic with a new appreciation for life, and for each other and the value each of us intrinsically brings to human society. Peace, love, and Harvey Krishberg.

Hang in there . . . I love you all.


Isolation: “Its Like Forever Only Much Shorter”

I’ve never understood how people who once loved and cared about each other can not merely drift apart (which is far more normal than we think) but who end up hating each other. In my early twenties, somewhere around 1969 (I think) I had been living in Berzerkely and wasn’t taking very good care of myself. I became very ill with a form of asthma. I ultimately decided—thanks to the I Ching; the Chinese Book of Changes—to return to Los Angeles and get medical help. I don’t quite remember how I met Susan, but we ended up living together and she literally nursed me back to health. Our relationship didn’t last that long, mostly due to my being an asshole, but we’ve remained friends over the years; perhaps because we shared a lot of the same friends. Susan Marlow is her name, and she sent me this short essay, which I want to share. Self-isolation, social-distancing, shelter-in-place, whatever we’re calling it . . . seems to be fueling some interesting creativity and innovation. I’m happy to share it.

PS – Thank you, Sue . . . for this and, especially, for taking care of me way back in the wayback machine. I’ve long regretted how I acted back then, but I’m pleased we both went on to have wonderful, interesting, and fulfilling lives and that we remained friends. Hopefully, we’ve got another decade or two to enjoy . . . once this is behind us.


by Susan Marlow – 26 March 2020

I am finding this Covid-19 isolation, while mostly strange, not entirely unpleasant. The disease has me frightened. It is such an unknown and one that I want to keep that way.  Yet clouds can be fluffy and white and pretty or dark and sullen. They bring us rain which cleans and they filter and cool the heat.  So too has this isolation that we are living through brought some very interesting and beneficial changes for us all.

“This too shall pass” and “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” are my favorite quotes. And perhaps that is what is happening.  I actually do not mind being home I am not bored. I have oodles of half baked ideas and partially concocted schemes that I can pick up and play with.  Who knows I might finish the knitting project, or begin my composting and renewed vegetable and flower garden. The composter has been ordered through amazon prime.  I have learned to order household items to avoid shopping. My pointer finger is getting stronger, as I push those order buttons. With each boxed item it’s a bit like Christmas.  

Learning to Cope

I have gone into the garden to collect worms for the composter.  They are busy I hope eating what is in their temporary home. Now I’ve read that there are specific worms that are better than the garden variety.  Wouldn’t you know it there are designer worms available on line 1000 per pack.

I am not much of a cook and my husband (the cook) has grown tired.  His meals are not so exciting after 37 years. So we joined a meal delivery service.  The food comes fresh and ready to prepare with complete instructions. Surprisingly it is a lot of work but very tasty.  My back aches as I stand by the sink cutting chopping and stirring. So I prep the meal early allowing myself time to rest.  Then maybe 2 hours later together we finish. It’s become a very nice, even anticipated activity for the two of us. Time is not of the essence anymore or maybe it is but there is a lot of it to spread about. We don’t have anything to argue about and we are able to laugh at ourselves quite a bit.  I like that part the best.

I should tell you that I have actually been in semi isolation since 2/27 so I consider myself the expert.  I love the quiet streets which remind me of my childhood where a kid could safely ride a bicycle at break neck speed  down a hill across a residential street without much chance of getting creamed unless you hit a pothole and there were fewer potholes back then as there was less slurry, trees were younger and their roots had not yet begun to encroach.  People are out walking cranky children or happy dogs. We are walking Peanuts twice a day and he is now a very happy doggy. We waive at our neighbors most of whom we have never even met. Hundreds of bees are darting to and fro through rain soaked flower beds.  

Maybe people will once again remember how nice this all is and make the necessary changes to keep it that way once this crisis passes.

The amount of world nastiness seems to be reduced.  Everyone seems to be getting the message that we are all in this together.  Borders, walls, languages will not protect us. Jobs have changed and are still changing.  Many types of employment never to be seen again or never seen before. Creativity is running high.  California needs ventilators and someone is crafting them on 3D printers. 

My husband and I seem to be getting along better than ever which amazes me.  We treasure humor and stuff that makes us giggle a bit.  I am checking on friends whom I rarely see.  Despite our limits we are finding common concerns. People are caring for each other even at a distance which I find nothing short of magical. The  meanness that Trump fostered has finally been challenged by something far bigger than that “Stable genius.” He can not buy it, sell it, hide from it, or manipulate it.   Nevertheless, I know he tries.

I am learning more about myself.  I’ve been sequestered for a month now.  I can withstand a fair amount of isolation from others. But I can not stand our 24 hour news cycle. Our TV isn’t going on until 5:00.  

I am finding that when I casually throw out “I love you,” I really do.  I mean it. Likewise, the kiss throwing emojis have sincere meaning to me now.

And so to all my essay girls and guys—stay safe.

🥰      


Love in the Time of Corona, or a Possible Good-bye Poem for My Daughter

This poem was written by a Facebook friend who I’ve never actually met and who lives on the other side of the continent, as do many of my FB friends. It’s haunting, poignant, beautiful, and not a little sad. I feel the same for my daughters, though my youngest is so troubled and needy, I can’t seem to do anything for her.

I’m trying to stay inside for the duration, but grocery deliveries are either delayed because of the demand or horrendously expensive. I will probably go through the weekend, but will venture out to Trader Joe’s on Monday, as I did this past Monday. Wish me luck . . . but please read the poem. It’s really a tear jerker (though, as a man, one of my superpowers is to choke ’em down.)

For Micaiah 3/26/2020   You probably don’t remember this: One day we were joking in the car after school. You said something about being a mistake. I corrected you.   “I got pregnant by a…

Source: Love in the Time of Corona, or a Possible Good-bye Poem for My Daughter


Berklee Music Students Send The World ‘Love Sweet Love’

I don’t often use the “Press This” button that sits in my browser’s toolbar, but I’m thinking I should do it a bit more. This story and video were sent to me by a Facebook friend who creates some really excellent memes, most of which are political. It’s partly because of him I got real interested in using Photoshop.

This is a wonderful, uplifting cover of Burt Bacharach’s “What The World Needs Now,” performed remotely by dozens of students from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee and Berklee College of Music. I suggest reading the backstory before listening/watching the video. It’s all pretty heartwarming; makes me long for a little more human contact . . . but I’m staying inside for at least another week or twelve.

Student Shelbie Rassler, eager to bring her community together amid quarantine and isolation, organized a massive performance of the classic “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and put it on YouTube.

Source: Berklee Music Students Send The World ‘Love Sweet Love’ : Coronavirus Live Updates : NPR


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