How comfortable are you speaking in front of large groups of people? Not at all comfortable. I have to work hard to keep my anxiety from causing me to simply vomit.
What would be the best thing you could reasonably expect to find in a cave? Probably an animal although gem stones would be nice.
What did you think was going to be amazing but turned out to be horrible? Writing my Memoirs. Some of them are not going well. Working on 4 different time periods. Not in order either. I did the easiest one first. Then I tried my childhood. I can’t remember my childhood very well. I am 63 now so that was a long time ago. I don’t know if I will manage to finish them. Even the first one which I am publishing on my blog is not finished yet. I have 6 chapters done so far. Really need to finish that one first and mark it as finished.
What’s the silliest thing you’ve observed someone get upset about? I don’t know about others, but I know the silly things I get upset about. I hate the sound of flip flops. I hate humming. I hate it when someone tries to pass me at a light by going around me on the right and the road ends right after the light. So you have to slam your brakes on to avoid a collision. I hate people who pull out right in front of you and you slam on your brakes and there was no one behind you. NO ONE!
Please feel free to share something that gave you an uplifted spirit during this past week. (Optional)
Seeing some video of my new grandson. I am missing his baby years. He is six months old now and so I did get to see him born, but then the virus hit when he was about 1 month old and so I only get to see him in videos. My daughter posted a new video the other day.
Advocate for mental health and invisible illnesses
This started as a stream of consciousness written one day while depressed. I updated it for here.
Pandemic: The New Normal
written by Tessa Dean
March through June 2020
As I gaze unseeingly out the window at the now empty streets and sidewalks, I can hardly remember when everything changed. I listen for my neighbors. They are usually banging in and out of their apartments all day, laughing and shouting at each other. They holler hello as their visitors arrive. Hugging and kissing each other.
The community room is usually busy as people come and go either looking for a book in the small library or gathering in groups to talk and do activities while keeping each other company. One group colors every day. We have painting classes in there twice a month, and once a week there is a bingo game.
That was about four months ago. Now it is quiet, too quiet. I never minded being alone all day, but since the pandemic and our subsequent quarantining, I have felt so alone. Just knowing I can’t just go visiting my family or go shopping for new clothes or go to a park and mingle with other people as we walk, is becoming very depressing. I am missing my six-month-old grandson grow from an infant to a toddler except by pictures on FaceBook.
When the virus statistics rose to an alarming amount, my son came home from where he had moved to another state. He came to see me, but because of social distancing (a new word for the times), we couldn’t hug or kiss or even shake hands. We had to have our conversation over six feet apart. If he hadn’t come when he did, he would be subject to a 14-day quarantine just in case. Some of the state borders closed on his route home, so he just made it.
The president and the other people in charge tell us this is going to end, and we will once again be able to leave our homes when we want to and resume normal activities. Still, the way this virus is spreading so rapidly and people are dying in the most significant numbers I have ever seen, I don’t know what to think. We are a small state, but we have alarmingly high numbers of sick and dying people because our state is so densely populated.
I don’t like the new normal. I have to wear a mask, gloves too in some places, just to go out in public. That includes leaving my apartment and walking through the hallways past the other apartments. You see, I live in a senior high-rise, and we are stacked in here like sardines in a tin. My apartment is touched on both sides by other apartments, plus one under me and one over me, and across the hall a few feet is another apartment. We can’t have visitors at all anymore. The only people allowed in here are the delivery people and the aides some of the senior citizens have. We can still leave the building for essential business. However, the governor has advised us to stay home.
Even if we went out, where would we go? We are only allowed out for the essentials, food and medicine, and gas. Who needs gas? Except for essential personnel, no one is supposed to be going anywhere. We can go out for work, but most people have lost their jobs as only the businesses that provide food, medical care, and medical supplies are allowed to stay open. Businesses are closing, and some of them may never recover. The economy is tanking, and it will take a long time, if ever, to recover to where we were before this pandemic hit.
Unemployment is so high right now the websites are crashing, and they have to do everything by paper, and that will take forever. Children are out of school, and parents are finding themselves suddenly teachers.
We still get the news but broadcast from homes. There are no new tv shows or movies as people must social distance themselves.
Things aren’t any better from when I first wrote this. Although the states are starting to open up, the increase in the virus cases is exploding. People don’t bother to wear masks as they think it is safe now since the government has opened up the state some. Anyone with any sense should see the increasing cases as a warning that all is not well.
Some businesses are allowing all employees to work from home, and even call centers have the technology now to allow them to work at home as well.
I believe we will see a lot of changes once we have gotten past the virus invading our planet. Companies won’t need to have those large offices anymore because people are already working from home. They can save money on overhead. Conference calls make meetings possible.
I miss my family, but at least none of us are sick. And I hope to keep it that way. I have self-quarantined myself and only go out for food and medicine. They have apps for the smartphones that you can keep in touch and see each other, and for now, we must be content with that.
The lake opened onto a small river perfect for taking a leisurely canoe trip. Usually Allen and I went alone, without the kids, but we decided that they were old enough to come with us. That eliminated the need for a babysitter as well.
A busy highway separated the lake and river and there was a very small shoulder on the side so you had to pile all the equipment as close to the edge of the woods as you could. There were several canoes going so there was a lot of equipment on the edge of the highway.
Sharon and Susan, our daughters, were running around and getting uncomfortably close to the highway. “Girls get over here and away from the road, there are too many cars riding close to the edge,” I called up to them. We were just about to carry our canoe and cooler down to the landing where there was only room for one canoe at a time. I had to yell one more time to get them to come over to the railing separating the highway and the path down to the river. Allen lifted them over so they were finally away from the highway.
We put our canoe into the water and I stepped in and walked to the front and then Allen pushed the boat out some. He lifted each girl in. They were each given a bottle of soda to eliminate the constant requests for a drink. Allen told them to not lean to either side or we could end up tipping over.
Once everyone was loaded we started to paddle out and head on down the river. We were headed for a beach area where we would stop for lunch. There was a lot of branches overhanging the water and quite a few trees that were sticking up out of the water due to the lack of rain recently. That meant getting everyone out of the canoe and lifting it over and then reloading again.
Occasionally we would encounter a lot of bushes on the side of the river bank and there were lots of overhanging branches. As Allen and I paddled along I would invariably paddle the wrong way and we would head into the bushes. He would shout, “Tessa aren’t you ever going to learn how to paddle correctly. I am tired of landing in the bushes. Really, this is ridiculous. We have been canoeing for years now.”
I don’t know what he was complaining about because I was the one who ended up in the bushes since I was in the front. It annoyed me no end and we fought about it constantly. Now we weren’t the only one fighting. I swear there should be a divorce court at the last landing because most of us were ready to divorce at the end of the trip. We had people actually get out of the canoe and refuse to ride with whoever they were with. It was amusing if you weren’t also fighting.
Things calmed down and we headed out again. We were approaching a large tree with long branches hanging down over the water. It was off to one side and there was enough room to go around it, but I managed to steer us right into it and all four of us leaned to the same side. Whoops, the canoe overturned.
Rising to the surface Allen and I searched for the kids. They had life preservers on and were brought to the surface, but before our eldest daughter surfaced we saw her arm holding her soda up in the air. We all had to laugh at that one.
However, we now had a problem on our hands. Not only did we have to empty our canoe that was filled with water, gather the floating stuff that hadn’t been tied in, and get back in, but our daughters were crying and refused to get back into our canoe.
Allen tried to pick one up and put her in and she kicked and screamed at him. Same with the other one. They weren’t going to get back in. Some of our friends had stopped when we overturned in case we needed help. One of them offered to take the kids with them. We had no choice, but to agree. They weren’t getting back in with us.
We managed to get back into our canoe that had water in the bottom. It is hard to empty a canoe completely when you can’t get off onto dry land to empty it. Everyone took off again with us trailing behind. Allen couldn’t stop complaining about what I did. I wasn’t the one who decided that we should all lean the same way. Maybe we should have made a decision on that before leaving. We had never tipped over before. Others had, but we hadn’t. I was more concerned about the kids. That was pretty traumatic for them although it did not stop them from going canoeing again. It was also the last time we tipped over.
For visually challenged writers, theimage shows an old wooden door framed by ancient stone, with an ornate key inserted in a rusted, heart-shaped lock.
By Tessa Dean June 2020
Aaron followed the real estate agent, Laura, around the large property and poked about here and there. There was a stone shed-like building set in the back corner considerably far from the house. He was interested in viewing the inside of that building. He was looking for something suitable for a place to set up his painting studio. He could see several large windows that would let in a lot of sunlight. He somehow doubted that the building had electricity, and that was one thing he would have to fix right away.
They slowly approached the front of the building only to find a large heart-shaped keyhole, but no key was in sight. Aaron walked around the building, trying to see inside of the windows, but they were filthy, and he wasn’t able to see much. “Do you have a key to this building,” he hopefully asked Laura.
“No, I am afraid that the key has been missing since the day my grandmother disappeared. It was her painting studio, and Grandfather couldn’t stand to enter the building after she disappeared. He removed the key, and no one was allowed in there again.”
“I will have to get a locksmith out here right away. I can picture this building being a painting studio, and I am sure she found it to be the same for her. I wonder if your grandfather left her paintings in there as well?”
“I don’t know as he refused to talk about her, the building or painting ever again. We were all warned to stay away from the building.”
Aaron turned around and told her that he was interested in buying the property, and they headed back to her office to start the paperwork.
A month or so later, he was finally moved in and ready to deal with the mysterious building. He brought out a locksmith who told him the keyhole was for an old skeleton type key. Larger than the ones you found inside of houses, but similar. He would either have to find the key or hope that another old key like it was somewhere inside of the house. If that didn’t happen, then the locksmith would have to tear the door apart to put in a regular lock and key. Aaron wanted it to remain as it was, and he said he would search around to see if he could locate the key.
He frantically searched every drawer and closet inside the house. Nothing! Perhaps in the cellar, he thought. He slowly went down the steps. They needed to be made stronger. They weren’t safe in their current condition, and if he planned to use the cellar, he would need stronger stairs.
The cellar was dingy and had little light from the small, dirty windows. Aaron searched around for a light switch and then looked for a string hanging down, which might turn on a light. He went upstairs for a flashlight and checked out the cellar looking for the light switch. There had to be one, he thought.
Success! Finding a string hanging down, he pulled it and found a very dim light. Needs a stronger bulb, he thought.
Taking the flashlight, he began to search the basement. He opened all the drawers and looked on the walls. Finally, on the back of one of the support beams, he found a large key. Eagerly he headed upstairs and out the door and headed towards the stone building.
Putting the key in the lock, he flung open the door to let some fresh air inside. He could see how musty it was in there, and he was glad he was still carrying the flashlight. The first thing on his list would be to wash all those windows. Next, he would set about cleaning up all of the junk that was lying around and haul it off to the dump.
He stumbled. He had tripped over a large box lying in the middle of the room. Curious, he wondered why it was there in the middle of the room since it had caused a tripping hazard. Looking for a tool that he could pry it open with, he was shocked to see a tiny skeleton, roughly the size of a small woman or large child. He wondered if the missing grandmother had been a small woman.
He called the police, and while waiting, he called his real estate agent, Laura, since the property had been in her family, and she had told him how her grandmother went missing. “I’ll be right over,” she assured him.
She arrived at about the same time as the police. They wouldn’t let her enter and told Aaron he needed to leave, but that they should both stay in the area as they would want to talk to them.
After what seemed like hours, the police came back outside and asked Laura about her grandmother’s disappearance. She didn’t know much as she had been a young child when it had happened.
The police continued to talk among themselves and then turned to Laura, and one of them said, “We had always thought that your grandfather was the one who had something to do with the whole thing. He insisted she disappeared, but there was no real indication that she had left. Her belongings were still here.”
There is nothing to be done about this now as he, too, is dead. We will mark the cased closed after verifying that it is her skeleton in there.
Laura, quietly crying, managed to tell the police, “It is her, I recognize that cloth in there as her favorite dress. The one she always painted in.”