Living in the Age of COVID-19: 4/19/2020


A Spring Evening View in Michigan

We have anguished over the decision of when would be the best time to travel from our winter home in southern Florida to our summer home in southern Michigan. After talking with a friend who drove from Florida to Michigan a week ago, we decided that we could do it safely and we are ready. I have begun the process of packing up half-finished quilt projects to finish up north, have put away my sewing machine, and am starting to sort through and organize the small piles of papers and books, some to leave here and some to take with us. I’ve even begun the difficult task of deciding what clothes to leave and which to take north. There is a sense of peace in making order and getting ready to leave in a week.

My life seems to be characterized by a huge and constant sense of disconnect. I watch the news on TV throughout the day and see how communities are being devastated by the virus and people are loosing loved ones. I see the suffering of health care workers who aren’t able to physically protect themselves because PPE is in such short supply while at the same time have to help people die who are separated from families. Health care workers trained to save lives have to live with the knowledge that refrigerated trailers are sitting outside holding the overflow bodies, the bodies of someone’s loved one that can’t be claimed.  I watch journalists trying to bring us facts of sickness and death in nursing homes around the country and wonder how they deal with the weeks of emotional battering they have endured from looking for and making sense of human suffering without having a melt-down on camera.

And I feel a disconnect as I live my life with just some frustrating inconveniences, that’s all, just some inconveniences like not being able to go to our favorite restaurants or getting together with friends to play cards and laugh and eat snacks. Inconveniences like not being able to get a hair cut, exercise at the gym, or go to my favorite fabric stores. I go outside and see blue skies, spend a little time in the pool talking with friends as I exercise at a safe distance from others, and no one I know is in immediate danger unless they choose to put themselves there. None of my inconveniences are life threatening, in fact they are only inconveniences to me because I want to do certain things – going without isn’t a matter of life and death. I think about how my life with all its inconveniences is a thousand time better than most of the world’s population on their best days. There is a disconnect, a lack of congruence, between my daily lived existence and the carnage that the COVID-19 virus is causing across our world. I sometimes feel like I can’t get my head around what is happening.

But I know that I am getting my head around it because I am in a constant state of fear, of fight or flight. I am so in tune to social distancing that watching commercials on TV causes anxiety because the people on the screen are way too close. I feel the dread of contagion, of death. This reaction makes me laugh, but I know my fear is no laughing matter. It is real and appropriate because I am old, my husband is old, and most of my friends are old, even our children are getting old. If we get sick there is a greater likelihood of dying than of recovering. Usually I don’t embrace fear because I make decision that keep me safe, but with this virus I am keeping my fear active because I need it to stay safe while a virus that isn’t understood or controlled is knocking at my door. I need to keep fear close and active so that I don’t do something stupid that will lead to panic. Only when our government produces more testing and tracking and isolating of those who are carriers will I start to let my fear relax.

In the mean time I am going to continue to socially isolate myself and take precautionary measures even if government officials decide to put the economy ahead of saving human lives. I have so much to say about this but most of it isn’t nice or appropriate to say out loud. So right now I will think about safely getting some necessary provisions and get out some of the quilt squares I have packed to take home. I want to cut them down an inch so that they are better proportioned for the wall hanging they are destined to become.

Please, please stay safe and put aside your own needs if getting those needs met endanger others. It won’t be forever and in the grand scheme of things even two years isn’t much over your whole lifetime. If I can live with inconveniences for a year or two at my age, so can you. And all of us, together, can become creative in helping those who have lost incomes make it through. Jim and I will be using our government check to support our local food bank. What can you do to help yourself and others? We can do this, together, but at a safe distance!


Garden Closed

The Naples Botanical Garden made the decision to close to the public as of this morning. That means that I won’t be able to go tomorrow morning even though I didn’t feel at risk there when I went early in the morning. There were very few people and most of them were spread throughout the garden walking their dogs. When I would leave at around 11:00 there would be a line at the ticket windows and there was a steady stream of cars coming in the entrance.

I will miss my visits for the rest of our stay but am willing to sacrifice my pleasure for the well-being of our country. If we all sacrifice now, maybe we can keep others from suffering in the future weeks and months. I was at a small party at our neighbor’s home last night and our conversation went to the usefulness of social isolation. Jim and I are still going out but we limit our outings to places that aren’t densely congregated. The purpose, as I see it, is to limit the number of people we come in contact with to lesson the chances of spreading the virus.


I’m not worried about running out of photos from the garden to use for future posts. I have thousands of them – many very good. Over the past few weeks I have been intrigued by the clump of water lilies a few feet off the boardwalk through the lily pond. As I was studying the beauty of its composition and wishing I could wade into the pond to get better shots, I noticed one lone lily facing me. What a perfect opportunity to examine their the anatomy – without getting banned from the garden for life.


Tomorrow I plan to make an early morning trip to the beach, my first of the season. Naples has a very long public beach on the Gulf of Mexico so it is never crowded. Finding a parking place for sunset is the biggest challenge.

We continue to be respectful of the virus and are thoughtful in our plans for going into public places. We are not panicked because I don’t see how that helps me; it only clouds my thinking with the risk of causing unnecessary stress and harm. And I am finding great humor following the memes on Facebook about the irrational rush to stockpile toilet paper. If my greatest risk is running out of toilet paper, then life will be just fine.




I walked along a familiar path, but from the opposite direction. It may have been my new orientation that made me notice this tree for the first time in ten winter seasons of weekly visits. Maybe I was focused on texture because of this month’s challenge at HeyJude’s blog to find something rough to photograph.

I was drawn in by the rough texture of this stocky palm truck created by the overlapping pattern where dead fronds had been cut off and the beautiful colors that accented the texture.


When I zoomed in close, I found the unique characteristics of the trunk that made it so irresistible from a distance.


My first impulse was to marvel at the beauty of this small statue among the lush growth and different shapes of leaves. But if you go back and look at the first photo, I think you will appreciate how pleasing the whole is. There are so many textures and contrasts. Although I photographed parts, I most enjoy the whole. This is an excellent example of Systems Theory – that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

I have been listening to news about the world-wide health crisis as I have been writing this post. In Florida activities are being cancelled and we are encouraged to keep social distance from each other. As I integrate my thoughts about my photography and Systems Theory with our health crisis maybe we need to remember that acting together and keeping everyone’s well-being in mind will help us through. I do believe that the whole of our country and the world will be better and greater when we work together, when we sum our parts. Here in the US we are looking for guidance from our president and unfortunately he just isn’t able to understand how to lead. Let’s work together without him by keeping ourselves and our neighbors safe. And let’s call our congressional representative to let them know that we want the government to make sure all communities have sufficient test kits and unemployment is made available to people who can’t work because of the virus.