How Can You Help in this Covid Crisis?

Iconic Brooklyn Bridge
(Pexels Image)

Brooklyn was my home for over 25 years, and how I loved her! Prospect Park, Greenwood Cemetery with its green parrots, BAM, Junior’s with its cheesecake, Peter Luger’s with its amazing steaks and unique waitstaff, the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Heights Promenade with its gorgeous view of the Manhattan skyline, Grand Army Plaza, her Bridges—Verrazano, Brooklyn, Manhattan and WillieB, the Slope, Windsor Terrace, the Heights, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Brooklyn College. There’s no place like Brooklyn.

And then there are Brooklyn’s Kingsborough Community College, Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Heights, Metrotech, Clinton Hill, Boerum Hill, Crown Heights, East New York, Canarsie, Dumbo, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Fort Greene, Eastern Parkway, Borough Park, Ocean Parkway, Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Gowanus, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park, Sunset Park, Brownsville, Bed-Stuy, Midwood, Bushwick, Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Kensington, Flatbush, Mill Basin, Bergen Beach, and more. Even the F train with its orange seats and crammed rush hour cars, when it emerges above ground to give a great view of Brooklyn’s evolving skyline.

Now I visit Brooklyn by FaceTime and Zoom, attending a brunch in Park Slope, enjoying calls with friends, and sharing at Park Slope’s Our Town with others trudging the road of happy destiny. The crowded hospitals, shuttered businesses and empty streets remind us how life has changed in the time of coronavirus. I have felt so powerless and sad. Then today I learned about actor Jeffrey Wright’s effort to keep restaurants open providing nourishment to Brooklynites risking their lives on the front lines: hospital workers, firefighters and EMTs.

Their GoFundMe page says

“Brooklyn for Life!

Local Eats for Brooklyn’s Frontline Fighters in Brookdale Hospital, Brooklyn Hospital, Cumberland Health Center, Gotham Health Clinic East NY, Interfaith Medical Center, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital (almost Bk – they snuck in!), Woodhull Medical Center and Brooklyn FDNY EMS Battalions 31, 32, 35, 38, 39, 40, 44, 57, 58 & 59.”

So join me in donating to this great cause aiding the best borough in one of the best cities in the world!

Help your borough and mine! Brooklyn for Life!

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Namasté

Portrait of the Blogger as a Young Child

Ruth posted a lovely oil her mother painted of her when she was a young girl. This moved me to post one my mother painted of me when I was 8 or 9. This had been stashed away in a storage room in my mother’s apartment building, then I took it and many other paintings of hers that I loved when I moved into my Park Slope apartment in the early ’90s.

When we moved to Florida I packed up paintings and objets d’art, family treasures and mementos, from my great-grandmother’s clock circa 1888 to a ceramic bowl and little jet plane my son made in school. I took what art I could remove from frames to box up or put in my zippered portfolio. This painting was longer than any of my boxes could accommodate, and it was damaged, by exposure to sunlight I suppose, with paint cracking and flaking off. So I pried off the lath frame, cut it out of the stretcher bars, and put it in the portfolio. I’m so glad I posted it on my mother’s website so I could copy and paste it here, as it was before it was badly damaged.

My life is very challenging now, and if you’re in my life now, you know that. But the art that graces our home reminds me that I was loved and cherished, and my love for my gifted parents will always remain in my heart.

Spared By Dorian, Buffeted by Dementia

Compare this photo and the following video I took today with the video I took two weeks ago here. The walkable beach here in Naples on the Florida Gulf coast is narrower, and most of the shells I saw as I walked along the water’s edge were broken. The wind was very strong and you can really hear it. I had brought my lunch to the beach and settled at a covered table where I could see the water. I had to hold onto my purse, sandwich and drink while I ate to keep anything from being blown away, not easy to do with two hands. We are about 125 miles from the Atlantic coast of Florida and much further from the hurricane itself, and have been getting some effects from the outer bands, but there’s no danger to life or property here as far as I’ve heard. The east coast has been hunkered down for days, and we were briefly. Unfortunately cognitive impairment prevents some from understanding here from there, or us from them, or safety from danger. I am so grateful for the people and organizations here who understand this and provide so much help and support.

When I saw videos of the devastation in the several of the Bahama islands after they were strafed by category five hurricane winds for over 48 hours, I could hardly take it in. The drone view was from a height that made much of the debris field unrecognizable, but it’s hard to imagine how many people can have survived. This devastation strikes me as being analogous to that being visited upon the brain suffering from progressive dementia. It’s hard to imagine anything surviving, and yet much does, at least for a while. And for any of this, and for all those who help us weather the storm, we are very grateful.

Reasons for Hope

A welcome respite

from hurricane news and our once feeble but increasingly robust preparations, such as they are, was this lovely story about crows.
https://www.thedodo.com/in-the-wild/crows-bring-gifts-to-kind-woman

Toggling between our tribal news channel and the Weather Channel, the level of anxiety in our household grows exponentially. We submitted our application weeks ago for our county’s Special Needs Shelter (they stress they are to be seen as a “shelter of last resort”), and I called to confirm with relief that we’re in their system and learned where to go, with Daisy, if they call to tell us to evacuate. We both qualify as special needs since I must sleep no further than six and a half feet from the electronic machine that reads my heart monitor every night, and our other challenges make qualifying a no-brainer. Our shelter will be set up in a high school gym, and I have our Go Bags packed for ourselves and our cat. Can you figure out whose is whose?

Publix was out of water when we got there today, so we went to CVS and found plenty. Now we have big two cases of bottled water in one car and one case in the other. Obviously I can’t drive both cars, so when/if we get the order to evacuate, we’ll stash one car in the garage, probably the smaller one, and take the other to the shelter. I’m trying to stay abreast of the items we’ve been told to have on hand. As of now we’ve got the aforementioned water, full tanks of gas, batteries, non-perishable foods, and now, a solar USB charger. Best Buy was sold out of the affordable models when I checked yesterday, so I found one on Amazon and, I kid you not, it came this afternoon! It was already charged and even has a fancy light that can flash the SOS code, strobe, and beam a steady light, dim or blinding. All for less than $50! Tucked that puppy in my Go Bag. It’s really quite spectacular.

Wishing you all a lovely Labor Day weekend. If we cook out on the grill in coming days, let’s hope it’s not because we had to use all the meat in the freezer. And please do send some positive vibes our way. Our Sunshine State could really use them!

Savoring the Joy as I find It

Sometimes a day is unstructured and we don’t know what to expect. I wondered what to do with myself for four hours today without any responsibilities or expectations. I dropped in on a support group, late, but still. Then I took myself out for lunch alone, a surprisingly authentic pastrami on rye. Next I parked by the beach and took a brief walk on the sand. As local residents, parking is always free for us. Here’s the video I took, which I sent to my granddaughter who just let us know she is engaged to be married. I am thrilled for her! He’s a Marine and she’ll be living closer to us soon. Then I went to my therapy office nearby and did some creative writing. The plot began to fall into place as my fingers flew across the keyboard. A character revealed the why and the how! When all was said and done, I resumed my busy life of caregiving, recharged and grateful.

Enjoy:

The goodness in me bows to the goodness in you, and to that in all living beings.

Red Winged Blackbird

Photo courtesy of David at Incidental Naturalist

He sings, he cheekily sounds an earsplitting chirp, and he rasps like a rusty gate.

Displaying his red and yellow epaulets, the Red Wing Blackbird wakes me daily, calling back and forth with his peers, from the tall grasses dividing lawn and lake to the grassy tussocks across the narrow inlet behind our house. Dawn to dusk they make their presence known to me. My Peterson’s Birds of North America, an app worth every cent of the $20 charge, says they are here in Southwest Florida year round, but they arrived late last fall and if past is prologue will soon be gone again.

How I love the birds who grace my life with their songs and movement and flashes of color. From waders to raptors to songbirds, we have them all here in our pond. Even a Brown Pelican sometimes finds us, patrolling the perimeter and dipping his huge beak in the water to get his fill of the small fish. A Kite soars overhead, easily identified by his forked tail. An Osprey descends to clutch a fish and fly off with it firmly in its talons, head first, like a bomb under a military plane. After Hurricane Irma and we were still snowbirds, we returned in October to find scores of statuesque Wood Storks perched on rooflines and in the trees, and ringing an overflow catchment filled with fish. We saw them here and there this past winter but they’re long gone now.

A couple of weeks ago I spotted a smallish bird perching on a woody stalk by the water’s edge, and consulting Peterson’s I tried to identify it. At first I thought it was a Least Bittern or American Bittern. Then I decided it was a Green Heron. I played its call and it oriented towards me. Eureka!

Let us notice and savor the natural world around us, even if only a trail of ants along a city sidewalk. We are not alone here. We can turn from our personal troubles, large and small, along the day and know this.

Be well.

The Amazing Voice of Scotsman Andrew Johnson

Relaxing with Andrew Johnson

The voice of Scottish self-help and guided meditation master Andrew Johnson is hypnotic and oh so easy to listen to. Even if his words had nothing to do with relaxation and calm, his voice would help anyone relax who took the time to listen. The Insight Timer app has a broad selection of his guided meditations. YouTube also features several, including this one:

When my day doesn’t permit a luxurious sit of 20 minutes or more, or when I’m so stressed I just need a reliable route out of the tension, I listen to one of Andrew’s lush guided meditations. Many are very brief, others 30 minutes or more. As I’m going through some stressful times these days including a long distance move and all that it involves, Andrew’s guided meditations have saved my serenity. When I’m feeling exhausted, meditation of any type consistently refreshes me as well as or better than a nap in a fraction of the time.

Visit Andrew Johnson’s website if you’d like to learn more about him or browse through MP3s available there for purchase and download.

The Apple and Google app stores also offer Andrew Johnson apps, both free “junior” versions and longer ones for a modest fee to put his voice at your fingertips.

I’ve never used my blog to simply pitch anyone or anything, but I’ve shared interesting things I’ve found along my journey these days. So take it from me, a woman of Scottish ancestry, this voice really delivers relaxation. But I also love the bagpipes as most Scots do, and some people cannot stand them, freaked out as if being tortured by fingernails on a chalk board. So, to each his or her own. But I am enjoying Andrew’s efforts so much since I stumbled on his guided meditations that I thought you might want to check him out yourself.

Namasté

Your Weekly Diversion, Week 24

IMG_0375

It’s week 24 and I’m in Tennessee watching my cousins and friends play gin rummy at my aunt’s 92nd birthday party. I bask in the warmth of family love. It helps to offset the insulting rhetoric that one who probably knows better is slinging toward folk who don’t deserve it. No people deserve to be insulted in schoolyard fashion, especially by the purported leader of their nation. Then someone shoots several of his former medical colleagues and kills one, and then kills himself, in a hospital where people are try to get well and live. Yikes!

Diversions on the way….

 

IMG_0374

Photo from pixabay.com

Are you interested in learning about Zen meditation? Norman Fisher explains it well in Lion’s Roar.

IMG_0373

Photo from Smitten Kitchen

This is the season for gardening and for grilling, and when you can combine a margherita pizza grilled outside with a salad of tomatoes and greens from your own garden, why wouldn’t you? We had a great Tennessee BBQ with my cousin’s husband serving as grillmaster, presiding over grilling hamburgers, artisan chicken sausages, and for the vegetarians, Fieldburgers, chipotle marinated tofu steaks and veggie skewers wth homegrown veggies. We didn’t grill any pizza, but the idea is really intriguing, so here’s how.

 

IMG_0377

A week or so ago, I covered the Danish concept of hygge,  what I interpret to include a rather enchanting sense of comfort, simplicity, beauty and cozy utility. There are many interpretations of hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah). While in an independent Tennessee bookstore filled with special finds, I found Meik Wiking’s book, pictured above.

And for some music to bring some hygge into your world, you might find this Hawaiian song by Kason Gomes helpful.

Namasté

img_0154

Your Weekly Diversion, Week 22

IMG_0343

Graphic courtesy of Awaken Mindset

It’s been about 22 weeks since US Inauguration Day 2016, the life event that has propelled me into a weekly blog. This week has brought terrible heartache from the London fire, the hateful shooting of a Congressman and others ironically bringing both US political parties together as nothing has in a quite a while, more hostile deaths of US servicepersons in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and most recently the deadly collision of a US destroyer class ship with a huge Philippine cargo ship 56 miles off the coast of Japan, with the fate of 7 sailors currently unknown. Add to these tragedies the serious American legal issues mounting up daily and the subsequent angry tweets and contortions of logic and truth.

I’ve curated some really good diversions for you this week, and I hope you’ll find something you can use here! There is such beauty, peace and positive energy all around us despite the negativity and fear being sown far and wide as distraction and worse. Don’t let the dark distract you from the light which is always there.

IMG_0344

Hyyge House founder Alex Beauchamp has elevated eclectic, homey and welcoming style to a major thing, and her blog is filled with wonderful photos showing her exquisite, artistically appointed cottage in Topanga Canyon, near Malibu in Southern California. Every item in her home, indoors and out is well chosen and sweetly positive. I would happily live in any of the cottages and bungalows she has furnished in the hygge style. Her blog and Instagram could uplift your regular web itinerary.

IMG_0345

When you think of water balloon fights, perhaps you recall your mom or other scolding authority figure telling you not to do that, you could put an eye out. Or maybe you remember happily vicious wars, a flurry of waterlogged missiles pounding your opponents as you tried to dodge theirs and failed, both ending up soaked and exhausted when the last balloon was launched and wetly spent. Yes, water balloons can be very dangerous and probably should only be used with goggles, and all the rubber remains ought to be be gathered up so they don’t end up in the gullet of a bird or other creature. That said, here is a video of the craziest water balloon caper ever. Needless to say, don’t try this yourself. It could have ended very badly!

IMG_0346

Photo courtesy of Lion’s Roar magazine

What with all the daunting problems our planet faces right now and in the future of our kids and grandkids, our personal challenges and stresses, and the political climate in the US, UK and elsewhere that begets anger, fear and cynicism, a vulnerable person could burn out. If you’re a helping professional, one who bears witness to the trauma and suffering of others, and you don’t exercise adequate self care, your risk of burnout is great. Fortunately, burnout is preventable. Lions Roar magazine addresses this important issue here.

And here is your musical medicine for today, a powerful spiritual anthem for my time, and maybe for yours. My friend Ann Koplow recently ended her blog with a wonderful video. I listened in rapt delight. Then, as often happens when I visit YouTube I listened to another, and loved this one. You may need to watch it more than once to identify all the players. Hint: Clapton was clean shaven, or a least I think that was he! Listening on your Bluetooth speaker is highly recommended.

Namasté

img_0154

Your Weekly Diversion, Week 16

IMG_0267

The Sixteens above commemorate The Pixel Project’s “16 For 16” Campaign: “A campaign in honour of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence while raising funds for the cause to end Violence Against Women.” Definitely worth it.

Ready for some diversion? Here’s what I’ve got for you this week. You’re worth it!

IMG_0269

Putting ourselves first is often wisest, especially when wishing to help others.  As we hear from a flight attendant on every airline flight, we must put the oxygen mask over our own nose and mouth before assisting our children or others around us. So when we neglect our own needs in the service of others, we will not be able to do it for long. We must refill our own cup if we wish to share generously with others. Here’s a good piece by Marc and Angel: An Open Letter to Those who Always Put Themselves Last. You’re worth it!

IMG_0266

Adachi Museum of Art in Yasugi, Shimane prefecture, Japan
日本語: 足立美術館。所在地は島根県安来市

One thing we must do for ourselves is cope as well as we can with stress. Avoiding stress is impossible, but drowning in it is usually avoidable. What can we do to minimize stress so it is less toxic and destructive to our lives and those who care about us and those who may need our help? We’re all worth it.

  • Breathe deeply and mindfully to reduce anxiety; it works!
  • Eat nutritiously and regularly; starvation is no virtue.
  • Sleep at least 6 hours every night, but no more than 8 is best.
  • Exercise at least 3 days a week and walk on the other days.
  • Practice your spiritual or religious beliefs sincerely and often.
  • Meditate, do yoga, pray or seek peace and beauty, as in the zen garden above.
  • Live your values, which means understanding what they are.
  • Give and receive love, affection and kindness freely.
  • Seek help for your own problems: therapy, medical treatment or expert advice.
  • Consider adopting a pet if your circumstances permit; they enrich our lives.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff (most is), pick your battles and put down the bat.

Moses Sumney is a recent musical discovery of mine, thanks to a video in a GQ article about Brad Pitt. The article is good, and Moses Sumney is definely “Worth It.”

Namasté

img_0154