COVID-19 One month

POSTNOTE April 8:   Today is Passover, Sunday is Easter, April 19 is Orthodox Easter.  Spring began March 19.  Whatever your tradition to recognize this season, this year is certainly without precedent in our era.  I saw a sign on my walking route this morning which speaks eloquently to all who see it.  The true test is how we as a society change as a result of this major test.

Related:  Fred sent this most interesting and informative link.  Take a look.

At entrance to Carver Park walking trail, Woodbury MN April 8, 2020.


April 6: A month ago today I stopped by my daughters home, and she urged me to lay low for awhile because of COVID-19.  The concern seemed overblown, and my lifestyle is careful anyway, so I mostly continued life as usual for about a week.

Yesterday, the same daughter called, and says she’ll be making masks for us.  I fantasize what mine will look like….  Bank lobbies are not open, so they don’t have to worry about a masked man on premises!

We all have our own stories.  (Mine are basically in all of the March and April blogs, through the present.  See Archives).

Early on I had myself as 6 or 7 on a continuum (0 = hoax; 10 = hysteria).  I think I’m still there, but much more aware than I was.  We seem to. be faring okay so far, but this week, everywhere, apparently will be rough.  Getting sick with the virus is a lottery none of us want to ‘win’.  It is not to be trifled with.


Observations from a single citizen (me):

Service:  First and foremost, thank you to those in the medical and other related professions in the front lines day to day dealing with the virus.  They are heroes, pure and simple.  Most true heroes never intended to be such, but when their time came they were ready.

Personally, I am most aware of the people who have been and will be the face of American business in my daily life.  Mostly these are younger people in low wage jobs – at the coffee shop, restaurants, grocery store, gas station….  These are largely people without financial reserves; the people who are at risk of exposure simply being at work; the people for whom financial recovery will be difficult and iffy.  I think constantly about how I/We can help these folks now and later.  They play a large role in the quality of life for this senior citizen, as they do for citizens in general.

Like most everyone, I know people personally who, while they, like me, have escaped the virus itself, have been damaged in various ways by its effects, directly and indirectly.  I could make a list, which lengthens…but this is NOT the time “to reopen”, or to “go back to work”….  As a nation, we need to figure the implications of this pandemic on a great many levels.

Community:  I think we all value community; the dilemma is where we individually set the borders of our ‘community’, from the most basic (“My home) to the broadest (“Our planet”) and all shades in between.  My general sense, just from brief forays out, is that we are more attentive to the idea of a greater community than we were before.  If I’m correct, what is critical is that we not stop where we are, rather continue to work for more improvement in the future, a future which will not be the same as our past, pre-COVID-19.

“Government” as essential:  ‘Government’ as a thing is very easy to kick around.  But we are daily learning how important a strong caring central government is; the very reason we became a United States, rather than a federation of independent states.  There is no way that I as an individual, or we as Minnesotans, can prepare for and anticipate everything.  We are in trouble now largely because key people diminished the value of a strong federal government “of, by and for the people”;  then diminished, for far too long, the notion that COVID-19 would be dangerous, even though all evidence available through intelligence was available several months before the alarm was sounded.  As we are finding, this was too late.

(Personally, my first awareness of a coming crisis was when I learned that some early flu victims were to be quarantined at Miramar, CA, where my grandson happens to be a Marine.  This would have been in very early February, and involved a group who had come in from Wuhan, China.  Lifecare in Kirkland WA came later.)

Planning and preparing for the long term is essential”: It should not have to be a political fight to invest in our future in all the ways that entails.  Rather than continuing campaigns to cut taxes, and hope that crises will not happen, we need more to think always in terms of the worst case, and plan accordingly.  This is neither cheap, nor a waste of money.  We were not prepared for this crisis in any sense of the word.  Bad things would have happened, regardless, but what we have experienced already and will continue to experience in large part is because of what our government, especially at the federal level, did not do to prepare for this.  (There will be plenty of time to do a fact-based debrief.  We will not look good.)

A month ago I could not have imagined this day.  I hope next month and those following will be a bit better, and that we all will have learned a very hard lesson.

Postword April 7 – An Opportunity: This, in my religious tradition, is Holy Week, culminating with Easter Sunday, April 12.  This, along with Christmas, is the day when everybody goes to Church – a busy day for ushers like myself.  This year the Basilica will be empty, as it was on Sunday – Palm Sunday – as it will be all week.  There will be a service, on line, each day of this week, Holy Week.  You can watch here, wherever you are in the world, if you’re on Facebook, whatever your tradition, whether a ‘believer’ or not.  They do an impressive job.

A suggestion: out of adversity often comes opportunity, and out of this adversity comes an opportunity to seriously reflect on what this all means to you, to all of us.  Sometimes adversity – a quick kick in the rear end, as my ancestors might say, and do, leads to insights one doesn’t normally have, and the interruption of our normal hubbub gives us the time to pay attention to things we may have overlooked in the franticness of contemporary daily life.

Give this week a chance for this activity.  You won’t regret it.

Postcard from the Busch farm in North Dakota app. 110 years old.  Here’s my article about the postcards at the farm, written 2006.

COMMENTS (More at end of page, from MN unless otherwise indicated.)

from JP in Manitoba: The following [including informative link to Winnipeg Free Press] will give you an idea on how we are faring in Manitoba.

FYI: The province of Quebec , Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia are certainly in worst shape than we are [in Manitoba].
[We] are abiding by the rules and have stayed isolated in our condo (so far so good) but must admit it is challenging.

From David in Wisconsin: Here’s a segment from an ongoing series in the New York Times. Lots of data shown here but it’s pretty easily understood and may demonstrate why Bernie (and perhaps even Trump) has so many rabid supporters. Take a break from the gloomy covid-19 news and dive into some gloomy economic news.

I don’t think that this article is behind a paywall. It’s designed to scroll in a kind of strange way. It didn’t display well on my phone but was fine on the computer.

From Steve: I loved the card and appreciated your blog this morning. Maybe the absence of ritual of Easter, there will be time for personal reflection and contemplation. The expressions of courage and unexpected neighborliness–even across continents and oceans–have been encouraging. I hope this “Eastertide” might become something of a habit, something important in our lives to tide us over to more familiar times.
Your article on post cards is Great! I loved looking at post cards on the rack at the drug store when I was a child. “Far way places with strange sounding names.” Then I began collecting them until one move after another and they were lost. A few years ago I came across some files and notebooks tha my mom and dad had saved. Post cares from my dad in the navy then while he travelled in the 40s and 50s for business all over the country and to Canada. Many addressed to me.
from Carol:  I love those old postcards.  I have some Easter cards from my mom also.  I still have your “blue cannon” one propped up beside her collection.  (A postcard of Fingal, ND 1906)
from ‘Grammee Babs”:  [My] husband (who was born in the family farmhouse) has collected post cards for a very long time. If you every have one that’s looking for a home, please consider popping it in the mail to him. It would knock his socks off. No small thing for a Norwegian! Especially in this way-beyond-uffda era.
from Barry:  Thanks Dick.  Your words are always so thoughful.
from Arlene in North Dakota: Happy Easter to you folks also, Yes it will be different. It is better to
stay in & not get sick. Take care.
from Sandy: Happy Easter to  you and Cathy too Dick!  Stay home and stay safe.
from Darleen:  Thanks for the view of the “Old Postcard”  It is a classic.   Years ago there was much personality in the cards.  Yes, Easter will certainly be different this year with the isolation mandate.  Of course we as Americans may have taken much for granted / became a bit careless / and really needed a wake up call to tone back.
from Anna in Louisiana:  Thanks for the vintage Easter card, may you have a blessed and peaceful Easter.  Take care, stay safe, be blessed. Read about the postcards, what a jewel of a collection.  Anything for from the early 1900 is beautiful. We are still staying in, went to drug store and grocery store this a.m. but wore mask and gloves. Stayed away from other people y’all stay safe and have a blessed Easter.  Stay safe my dear friend
from Lynn: Thanks for the bunnies.. and msg…one thing..that’s a big omelet …nice..
from Brad in California: Hope you and family have a poetic and meaningful Easter. Nice to see your Blog too.

from Cindy:  I am glad you are safe and healthy.  I can’t help but think of dad in these times. I know for a fact, that COVID 19 would be his proof & verification, to the world, that we are all World Citizens without borders. COVID has no “nationality”.Love to you and yours, Cindy

PS all of my employees are working remote, as am I. I struggle most without the daily human contact and live interaction.

from Frank: Hello from Salt Lake City.  Very nice weather here today so hit a few golf balls, a few tennis balls, rode a few miles on my bike and spent the afternoon putting together the framework for a garden shed/ isolation ward/ homeless shelter.  Couple of pics enclosed – one of the mock up that I have slept in all week and the other of the new one.  I’ll be dismantling the mockup tomorrow.  Salt Lake continues to be shutdown and the governor has now mandated that people driving into the state certify they haven’t been exposed to Covid 19 or are displaying any symptons.  So far we have 13 deaths attributed to Covid 19.  The governor’s office refuses to release the ages, pre existing conditions and co morbidities of the casualties so one can draw no useful conclusions from the data.  Meanwhile the hospitals are losing tons of money as they have cleared the decks for the epidemic that fails to happen here, many medical people of my acquaintance are suffering significant losses of income while twiddling their fingers, and local small businesses are decimated.  Welcome to life in the panicdemic.

Meanwhile, I’ll be happy to send you a face mask if you send me some 1/4 ” elastic.  Personally, I’m wearing a mask, safety glasses and disposable gloves whenever shopping. Lots of hand washing. Governor has requested that we order takeout three times a week to support local cafes.  So I’m waiting for our takeout pizza to be ready.
Stay healthy, support your local businesses and wash your hands.

from Sandy in New Mexico:  What a lovely note and picture.   I read your latest blog.

I am sure many people will have an uneventful Easter.  I am hoping to get things done around the house.  I also hope to do some reading.  I am reading The Splendid and the Vile, the book on Churchill by Erik Larson, my favorite author.
from Mary in New York:  Handy people – all –  I am having a small deck put on the back of the house and thinking of a very basic bench type seating bordering the sides of the deck.  What sort of barrier should I be having the guys put from the deck to the ground so the area does not become a haven for my yard critters?  I think my builders are a bit on the novice side but they are enthusiastic and out of work and they seem to understand the importance of solid footers and pretreated wood so it may work out OK…The esthetics of the finished project may be in my domain.
Have a good Easter everyone…the Good Friday snow storm turned out to be a three inch teaser as it has now all melted.  Hope your pandemics all remain non-events….not the situation in NY!


4 replies
  1. norm hanson
    norm hanson says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on this special time of the year in my religious tradition as well although as you noted, it will be a lot different this year from what we have known and participated in in the past. I “attended” church virtually last Sunday, i.e. Palm Sunday, and will do so again tonight, Maundy Thursday; tomorrow, Good Friday; the Easter Vigil, Saturday evening at my wife’s church, St. Rose of Lima Note: the Easter Vigil is about a two-hour service that I have come to enjoy and look forward to in my wife’s church; and Easter Sunday at my own Methodist Church.

  2. Melanie
    Melanie says:

    Beautifully written Dick, Thank you!
    Yes so many lessons we can learn from this. I hope the big lesson is that we can work together to solve big challenges.

  3. Kathy Valdez
    Kathy Valdez says:

    Thank you as always dear Dick for your words of inspiration and truth. I too feel we have many lessons to learn in all this- imagine that a tiny microbe brought the world to its knees! It’s like being in a classroom under the tutelage of a very wise teacher who instructs us, lets us explore possibilities, patiently waits for the material/experience to sink in and continues to wait until understanding is demonstrated – good teaching always takes time. Let us be patient and pray for mercy, forgiveness, understanding and fullness of God’s love and presence in our lives.

    Interestingly, the virus has left the age group birth to 14 alone for the most part. Methinks this generation will experience family life anew… at the dawn of a paradigm shift away from the craziness of schedules, appointments, meetings, makeshift meals-on-the-run and parents caught up in the race to nowhere. One can only hope that this holy time of uncertainty and reflection be one of Grace and blessings for all who walk this earth.


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