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Playing along with 1979 Blondie on YouTube under the last of July's Guitar Strummin' moon.

"When I met you in the restaurant, you could tell I was no debutante / You asked me what's my pleasure, 'A movie or a measure'? / I'll have a cup of tea, and tell you of my dreaming / Dreamin' is free / Dreamin' ... dreaming is free ..." [lyrics from Dreaming by Blondie]

"... a song is an adventure you can have with yourself." [musician Jarvis Cocker in a NYTimes interview]


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By my count, today is day 123 of the quarantine. The heat index hit 93 degrees. The rabbits ate all the green bean plants in the garden and there are alarming pools of water that keep forming near the refrigerator. Cases of the coronavirus are increasing daily again and have reached crisis points in many states. Our president has done his best to successfully turn the U.S. into one of his "sh!thole countries". Civil rights and voting rights champion and warrior Congressman John Lewis has died and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has had a recurrence of her cancer. One bright spot is the aqua-blue-sky ceiling in my little screened-in side porch.

"If we do not get meaningful legislation out of this Congress, the time will come when we will not confine our marching to Washington. ... We must say, 'Wake up, America, wake up!' For we cannot stop, and we will not be patient." [from Mr. Lewis' 1963 March on Washington speech]


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My first outing to see a friend after four months of quarantine. Watching the magic of her Evening Primrose buds flutter and open as night falls. Sharing a glass of bubbly and stories of our confinement to take the edge off. How nice to be able to laugh together and share things in person.


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The most amazing thing just happened. While I was out in the garden tending my flowers this evening a hummingbird came right up to me -- hovered at eye level and looked me right in the eye for the longest time. It was so close that I took a step backwards because I was afraid it was coming after me. It was there for at least half a minute -- was it trying to tell me something? -- then if flew off over the bushes. It had a glittering green head and wings -- a Ruby-throated hummingbird, I think. Thrilled me to the marrow...

The hummingbird came to me on my grandfather's birthday. According to the internet, some people of the Caribbean thought that the spirits of relatives lived on in the tiny birds and the Aztecs saw hummingbirds as messengers between them and their ancestors or the gods.

Hummingbirds: fly backwards, hover up and down, turn on a dime, and can go from flying at full speed to a complete stop.

"For some reason the hummingbird came your way; You can trust that something extraordinary can happen." (the Hummingbird in Mexican culture)


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Front door and back porch visitors not keeping to social distance or masking recommendations.

"A kind face is a precious gift."


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If it's the fourth of July it must be Jersey corn and blueberries. No sharing food and laughs this year -- just memories.

From the porch I hear strumming and singing:

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music
Would you hold it near as it were your own?
...
If I knew the way I would take you home. Da da da da da...
[lyrics from "Ripple" by Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia; a fun version by a school choir here]

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Some days I just want to run away. But where do you run during a pandemic? And how do you run away as an adult? I keep thinking of the kids who wrapped up what they needed in a bandanna and tied it to a stick...

[childhood treasures: handmade felt tree with sequins and pinked edges / handmade carved and painted wood flower art / a favorite doll -- her dress now faded and fraying; she is "spinning" the wool she hold in her left hand]


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I started my Quarantine Still Life drawings a month into the lock-down in late April. Somewhere along the line I looked up the word "quarantine" -- it comes from the Italian word for 'forty' (quaranta) and refers to the number of days that ships suspected of carrying an infectious disease were quarantined in port. 40 drawings seemed like a good goal. Although the stay-at-home order has been lifted here in New Jersey, the COVID-19 still lurks and planning and executing the drawings has helped to keep my anxiety at bay, so I'm going to continue.

This was my grandfather's watch. He was in his early twenties during the 1918 pandemic. It made may mum think of a story her father told her of his experience after WWII as a convoy ship Captain. He went to Paris and bought an ice cream cone and walked the streets along the Seine.

The quarantine has made time feel different -- like it is both standing still and flying by.

"Mostly this dude just exuded love. And he loved people in the best way -- by giving them his time."
(Adam Bruckner on Pastor Thomas Gallashaw of Philadelphia who died of COVID-19 at the age of 70 and is missed by the many people he shared his time with. The Philadelphia Inquirer story noted: "He died on May 31 in Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, likely never absorbing the accumulation of love and sorrow dispatched by Spring Garden’s teenagers, homeless people, and longtime clergy who were imploring Pastor Tom not to leave this Earth and the work he’d yet to do.")


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My nephew (along with some school chums) graduated from High School in his own backyard in the midst of the pandemic.

"So now I will tell you what nobody has told you before this; that we older folks are waiting for you. We're waiting for you. Did you know that? It's a fact. I look out from this stage and see a beautiful assembly of the American future.  ...  if I were a clergyman, I'd cast a blessing. But I am a writer, so I say: Be brave. Be kind. Take good care of yourself. And carry it on."
(the writer E.L. Doctorow in a 2011 commencement speech at his old Bronx HS)


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How nice it is to have fresh food -- #jerseyfresh broccoli and a roast beef sandwich from the local Italian Market. Meanwhile, those cans of crushed pineapple and green beans -- purchased in the 1st crazy days of the quarantine -- and, as yet untouched, stare down at me from the pantry shelf.


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This past week wore on me. Feeling out of alignment with the world and with myself. In the garden pots the Greek Oregano and Pineapple Sage are thriving next to the glorious, giant Geranium. The spinach has bolted so it's time to plant more beans in the growing patch.


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"Home is Here" -- Today the Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration's attempt to dismantle the program protecting undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, a reprieve for nearly 650,000 young people, known as "dreamers".


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Love and a wedding and champagne toasts in the time of COVID-19.

"... And among us are these, see, the resplendent companions..." [an excerpt from "Circle, Of Friends" by poet Marie Ponsot]


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Cutting the legs off a pair of old jeans made me feel like a teenager again. Instant shorts. No precision needed. No hemming necessary. Just turn up the edge for a cuff. I didn't cut them as short as I did at 16!


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A derecho rolled through here last week and provided such a spectacular show of wind and rain that I was sure that someone was being smited. As I looked out the window, a large table umbrella from next door flew up into the air, landed upside down on my bushes, then flew up again and -- as I gasped -- came down precisely in the inch between two potted tomato plants, thereby sparing them from disaster. My power was out for three days and a few soft pretzels in the freezer defrosted so I made soft pretzel croutons: slice the pretzels thin, sprinkle with olive oil and garlic salt, and bake at 350 fro 5-8 minutes. Really good (and recipe is thanks to my brother).


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This has been my mum's perch through much of the quarantine where fresh air and a view of the increased street life from her front porch help to keep her spirits up through her illness and isolation (as do her fancy compression socks). I show her videos and photos and tell her that people are marching in Philadelphia and all around the country and the world for black lives matter and justice. She wants to know all about it and wishes she could be out there protesting, too like she did in her younger days.


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a life stilled / "you changed the world George" -- the Reverend Al Sharpton speaking at a Minnesota memorial for George Floyd, June 4, 2020. [drawn from a newspaper photo]

Excerpted from Sharpton's eulogy: "... Go on home, George. Get your rest, George. You changed the world, George. We going to keep marching, George. We going to keep fighting, George. We done turned the clock, George. We going forward, George. Time out, time out, time out..."


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Protesting in the time of coronavirus = hand sanitizer for the people ...


Sketchbooking: hands up, don't shoot

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Last night our president had his fellow citizens tear-gasses so he could imperiously walk across the street and be filmed fondling a bible in front of a church. And tonight I saw on Twitter where someone asked for donations so they could buy water to be delivered to the protestors in Lafayette Park, across from the White House and within minutes they had enough money. [image drawn from a photo found on Twitter]

... a study by the Army found that soldiers exposed to tear gas were 2.4 times more likely to get respiratory viruses in the following week than during a previous week of training. "I'm really stunned it's currently being used to that extent when COVID-19 is around" said Chris Cramer, a University of Minnesota chemist (Philadelphia Inquirer story; June 4, 2020)


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Protestor outside Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NY with a sign that asks "AM I NEXT"?


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Across America, May 30, 2020


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We are the same inside no matter the color of our skin.


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An empty vintage bottle of Maraska Maraschino cherry liquor from Zadar, Croatia (encased in the woven straw cover that kept bottles intact on rocky roads and long sea voyages and likely brought back from Croatia by my grandfather on a visit home in the 1960s) and a newer (almost empty) bottle that's helped ease my pandemic anxiety. This liquor is made from the tart Marasca cherries -- along with their leaves and cherry stones -- that grow wild along the Dalmatian coast. So nice to see fresh cherries at the farm stand this week.


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Lives Stilled ▪️ “... The 1,000 people here reflect just 1 percent of the toll. None were mere numbers.”

Including: “Marion Krueger, 85, Kirkland, Wash., great-grandmother with an easy laugh” / “Minette Goff Cooper, 79, Louisiana, loved big and told people she loved them all the time” / “Muriel M. Going, 92, Cedarburg, Wisc., taught her girls sheepshead and canasta” / “Alice Coopersmith Furst, 87, Kentfield, Calif., in the first class of girls admitted to the Bronx High School of Science” / “John Prine, 73, Nashville, country-folk singer who was a favorite of Bob Dylan” / “Josephine Posnanski, 98, New Jersey, loved to dance” /

* Front page of the New York Times printed version, Sunday May 24, 2020: An Incalculable Loss


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If only garlic could ward off the coronavirus the way it does vampires (according to a Persian encyclopedia of medicine dating to 1025, garlic has been used for the treatment of a variety of ailments including arthritis, snake and insect bites, chronic cough, and . . . as an antibiotic for infectious diseases). This garlic -- one with purple skin -- was grown in Wrightstown, New Jersey.


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We use cutting boards to cut and chop; over and over again, day after day. A well-made cutting board doesn’t fall apart. It’s resilient. Like we are. All those “cuts” we withstand every day. The assaults on our dignity. Hurtful words. Worldwide pandemics. This cutting board is over 60 years old. And that pig is still smiling...


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My great-Uncle Barba was 10 when the 1918 flu pandemic hit and told stories of seeing bodies piled up on wagons in the streets of Philadelphia. He smoked a pipe and I'd watch him pack and light it, inhaling the leafy smell. This "Warm Tobacco Pipe" candle remarkably replicates that fragrance. I'd only known bay leaves as dried up things that you added to a soup pot until my cousin started bringing me fresh bay leaves from her Texas yard. This lovely Bay plant (Laurus nobilis) was an impulse purchase at a farm stand -- my first trip out to a store in weeks. It is said to have antiseptic and bactericidal properties and the fragrance of the leaves increases as they dry. These days I'm doubly happy when I smell something wonderful as the loss of smell is a symptom of the covid-19 virus.


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A cup of tea or three to calm the nerves and soothe the soul and attempt to keep the discombobulation at bay...

Drinking tea is "calming, but alerting at the same time” and researchers have found that it "lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol."