Saturday, June 6, 2020


I used to think that I had been born several generations too late. I thought it would have been great to have lived in pioneer times and explored the frontier. It would have been hard work, but I knew how to do most of the tasks that were required. I could sew and cook and garden and churn butter and wash clothes. I liked the outdoors and loved to watch the critters. I could shoot a gun or hoe corn or chop kindling.

Then after losing my first child, I realized that I would most likely have died in childbirth if I had been born in the 1800s. When I went to college, I was the first girl on either side of my family to get a degree. I had one uncle who had gone to school after the Korean War on the G.I. Bill. There was no expectation for me to become any sort of a professional and when I completed my degree, I didn’t have any plans or dreams. I had just fallen into the process. Most women of my generation who had careers were nurses or teachers. I got a teaching certificate as a hedge, but I taught only one year. The rest of my working life was spent as office staff. I followed in the footsteps of my mom who went to secretarial school before she married and raised a family.

All the while I was growing up no one asked me what I wanted to be or suggested that I might pursue a career other than wife and mother. No one had expectations of me and I had none for myself. Unlike my son who probably always assumed he would go to college people of my generation, especially girls had no such assumptions.

Now girls have choices, boys, too. There are a multitude of career paths that are available which didn’t exist in the 1960s. If I were starting college now, I might choose to major in meteorology or some other scientific field. I like science, but during my high school and college years the possibility of pursuing a career just never occurred to me. The standing joke when I went to college was that we girls were there to get our Mrs. Degree and most of us did just that and nothing more. I roomed with the first female Mechanical Engineering student to graduate from my school. She was one of a kind in many respects. She was the only girl in the class. She was smart, but she was abrasive. She expected to be treated with disdain and often was.

My niece is working on an advanced degree in geology. I doubt that she’s ever had to deal with the condescending attitudes of the 60s. A lot has changed in the past sixty years. There are female CEOs of tech companies now and female professional athletes. There are more opportunities, but there is still unequal pay for equal work in many fields. However more girls feel safe pursuing fields that interest them instead of doing what is expected because that’s the way it’s always been. The future is less self-limiting now because more women have stepped out in the direction that their talents lead them and paved the way for others to follow.  Maybe I was just born, too, soon.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Corona Chronicles part 1

The world is topsy turvy. Since the beginning of March 2020, all hell has literally broken loose. It started in China and we heard that they had shut down Wuhan Province because of an epidemic of flu. We didn’t worry about it until there was an outbreak in Iran and then in Italy and Spain and France and Washington State.

All non-essential meetings have ceased except for on-line contact. We are wearing face masks and standing the requisite six feet from everyone when we go to the grocery. I made two masks for each of us, but Gary is the only one who is shopping. I’ve gone out only to the church where I am only around a few others also wearing masks and keeping our distance and to my friend’s porch where three of us meet (and sit with our lawn chairs widely space) for lunch once a week.

Churches, concerts and sports events are all cancelled. Restaurants and bars are closed except for take-out. Very few people are on the roads. Air pollution in the big cities has dropped to the level of ancient times. Lots more people are walking around the neighborhood, but keeping their distance and waving to others without coming in close contact. The food banks are swamped because most service industry workers have been laid off or lost their jobs. The IRS is sending stimulus checks of $1,200 to each adult and families are receiving $500 per child unless of course you are undocumented or have a contract type job and don’t qualify. Millions have applied for unemployment compensation and businesses have applied for Small Business Administration grants to pay for some of their operating costs. The airlines are basically grounded with only a few flights each day.

Closer to home my granddaughter was to start training as a flight attendant in late March. Her class was cancelled because the airline is furloughing its current employees and not taking on any new ones for the foreseeable future. Everyone who can is working from home on-line. Schools are closed for the remainder of the school year. Graduates are graduating without “walking.” Classes are being held on-line for some courses, but many students don’t have the ability to participate on-line. Teachers are contacting their classes by Facebook and Zoom. Playgrounds and movie theaters, museums and swimming pools are closed. Only golf courses currently remain open. Our bowling league ended a month early and the bowling center closed.

We have weeded the yard and played endless games of FreeCell, worked a few puzzles and read books, but don’t have nearly enough books to read or ambition to read the ones I have on the shelf. The Library is closed. Any sort of game requiring more players than members of your immediate family is out. People are painting and roofing and doing yard maintenance. We are waiting. We are waiting for the spread of infection to be over and waiting for life as we know it to begin again. Right now that looks like a very distant possibility. It hardly seems prudent to buy anything new because the likelihood of getting to use a new winter jacket seems iffy. If I get the virus, most probably I will die because I have the dreaded “pre-existing” conditions of old age and chronic lung disease.

This virus apparently attacks the lungs and prevents them from expanding to breathe. The most serious cases have been on ventilators for several weeks before they recover and the odds for recovering if you’re sick enough to require intubation are less than 50%. Most of those who do recover have had a less serious case. Some people are evidently totally unaware that they have even had the virus which complicates quarantining them because they don’t realize they are contagious.

The scientific community worldwide is burning the midnight oil to develop testing and vaccines.  The Chinese mapped the virus genome and published it. There are many approaches being studied for slowing and preventing the spread, but their safety and effectiveness will not be known for months yet. Perhaps in a year we will have a vaccine to immunize the population, but unchecked the number of persons killed by the virus could reach levels similar to the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic of over 50,000,000 deaths worldwide. Thus far the epidemic has not spread widely in third world countries, but sooner or later it will get there.

So far there have only been a few “known” cases in Gila County. We don’t know how many “asymptomatic” cases there are. Nationwide there have currently been over 32,000 deaths in the U.S. and 154,000 worldwide. Nursing homes seem to be hit the hardest, but young people have died, too. People are getting restless because the quarantine seems endless and families are running out of money for rent and food. The planning for tackling this threat was piece meal and uncoordinated. There is no general consensus of how to deal with it except by social distancing and that approach is going to spread the timeline for returning to normal over months. New York City has been the hardest hit area to date. The peak infection rate will roll across the country hitting some states much later than others, but it seems that there is no way to escape totally because none of us humans has natural immunity to this new virus. We’re waiting it out.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Remembering the Important Stuff

Yesterday was my 50th anniversary. Bill and I were married on Saturday, December 28, 1968. That happens to be the same week Apollo 8 orbited the moon and took the first photo of the blue marble of earth rising above the curve of the lunar surface. The news media has made a big deal of the anniversary this week, but I don’t remember it at all.

I don’t remember if I knew that there was a moon shot on Saturday, December 21, 1968. I was waiting that day. Waiting to go home and get married. Bill had given me a ring in October. We had called all our family and friends and the pastor of his mom’s church. The plans were all set. We were going to get married at his sister’s house in January during semester break. We were both graduating from college, but staying in Cruces for the spring semester because I needed to complete student teaching to get my certification. The plan was for me to finish up while Bill worked to put food on the table and waited for his draft notice.

During the last week before Christmas, it dawned on us that the Christmas break was longer than the semester break. We called everyone to see if moving the wedding date up would cause any difficulty. No one else had conflicting plans so on the spur of the moment we went for our blood tests on Friday, December 20. Instead of getting in the car after our last class and driving home, we spent the weekend at Bill’s place. On Monday went to the Health Department Office, picked up the results and applied for our Marriage Certificate at the County Clerk’s Office. Certificate in hand we drove home on Monday, the 23rd.

Then the mayhem ensued. I had a wedding dress, but nothing else. Christmas with the usual family dinner and presents, etc. was on Wednesday. The wedding would be on Saturday. I borrowed the cake topper and veil from my friend Dee. My sister and I went to the dime store and got silk poinsettias which we used to decorate the cake table. At the florist we bought live flowers and florist’s tape to make the corsages for the mothers, my bouquet and boutonnieres for Bill and the Best Man.

Since it was Christmas I decided to go with red and white flowers. The doctor who had an office on the corner across from Bill’s parent’s house loaned us the potted poinsettias from her waiting room. I baked a double batch of red velvet cake in layers of various sizes, assembled and iced it.

A hasty bridal shower was put together by my sister in-law. I received some sheets and towels and other household items. Bill already had an assortment of his mom’s cast off pots, pans and dishes. My mom got us a set of brown stone ware plates and bowls which came from the supermarket where she shopped. She had been collecting them all during the fall. Each week a different piece was offered for a small amount of money. I also got a hand held Sunbeam mixer. I had collected some Oneida stainless flatware with Betty Crocker coupons.

There was no money for a honeymoon. We borrowed my new sister in-law’s single wide trailer which sat on a lot down the street from Bill’s parent’s house. In the fall Bill and I had helped paint the new house before they moved to it from the trailer. The trailer was still partially furnished, but it needed cleaning and I had to go grocery shopping.

I don’t know if we watched the launch or the landing of the moon shot or whether we heard the words from Genesis read on Christmas Eve by the crew. I was busier than the proverbial “one armed paper hanger” that week.

honeymoon trailer
The mission crew was equally busy. The mission to circle the moon had not been intended for December of 1968. It was hurriedly put together to stay a step ahead of the Russian space program. The crew had had little time to train and the rocket was not fully tested before the manned launch. The whole thing was a rushed operation of much larger scale than my honeymoon launch. I was fully invested in my project and don’t remember anything at all about that historic flight which orbited the moon ten times and returned to earth.

The flight went off smoothly as did my own launch. There was a lot of scrambling and making do and shifting of priorities in both cases. We were married and drove off into the moonlight to the noise of fireworks exploding under the hood where our teen aged nephews had planted cherry bombs.

After the honeymoon, we had no home. Bill was living with a roommate in an apartment and I was an RA in the dorm. With two weeks until the end of the semester, we had to study for finals, find a house to rent and job for Bill. After looking at several places, we picked the cheap one nearest to campus. It was a furnished triplex near enough that I could walk to class. Best of all it was $55 a month utilities paid.

Instead of studying for finals I spent most of that week scrubbing the kitchen and bathroom in the apartment. It had previously been inhabited by male students who had obviously never wiped the grease off the stove or mold out of the refrigerator. I spent literally the entire week on my knees scrubbing. The distractions must have paid off because both of us had our best ever GPA for that semester and Bill found a job working at the hospital as an operating room orderly. We had successfully completed our launch.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Looking Back

Another year is almost gone and we’ve little to show for it. Thankfully neither of us was gravely ill, though I did have a nasty respiratory infection in June which took me a month to recover. Then there was the 12 hour bout of food poisoning while I was in Florida visiting my aunt which was not fun while it lasted. 

The AC died in summer and had to have a new part. In September the heater suffered from a similar malady. About the time the AC was ill we discovered that the refrigerator freezer was full of ice. Instead of falling into the ice tray, water was spraying down the back of the freezer. It had to go so now I have the old reliable ice tray doing the job.

We traveled to see relatives for visits and for memorials. We’re all getting old. It was fun to see all the aunts, uncles and cousins and remember those who have passed on.

Gary and I watch the antics of the squirrels and chipmunks that use our back fence as a super highway. We know there are at least two lesser chipmunks around because we’ve seen them together on occasion. There are literally hordes of squirrels that chase each other up and down the tall pines and run down the fence with peanuts and then leave little holes all over the yard where they have been digging. 

Green leaves sprouted last spring where I had not planted them. It finally dawned on me that the sprouting plants were sunflowers. The squirrels had little garden plots all over the yard where they had deposited the sunflower seeds they took from the neighbor’s bird feeders. The javelina paid us a visit last week and rooted up the front flower bed. The elk have wandered through the neighborhood and tasted this and that, but found nothing much to their liking so they move on leaving a tracks and poop.

The weather here has been gorgeous all year. We enjoy walking in the afternoon. Gary has been out riding his motorcycle a few times and I play a little tennis and bowl. Both of us listen to a lot of podcasts and I watch too much TV. Mostly I watch the Hallmark Channel and baseball. Those Dbacks are getting harder and harder to watch. You think they’re going to get it together and then they drop the ball—literally.

I worked a few days at the Food Bank this summer as a sub for my friend Kathy who was out RVing through the North West. I do some volunteering at church and make things for the Merry Mall. Gary gathers up the pine cones that fall from our trees and herds the leaves so he can scoop them up into the trash. Last winter we didn’t have any snow to shovel. It was dry for months and then we had a good monsoon in late summer. No forest fires here so far. Life goes on quietly here.