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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: April 8, 2020

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,

Almost nothing is normal right now. It is uncomfortable, scary and boring all at the same time.

My lifeline has been connecting with family and friends""in a way that I would not have been able to do 20 years ago. I count among my greatest blessings right now the cell phone and computer that keep me in touch with those who matter most in my life, when we can't physically be together.

I missed my granddaughter's third birthday recently. It was absolutely the right decision, but it still hurt. But every single day, I get video clips and pictures of her via text; playing, talking, dancing and sleeping in Oklahoma. Each one brightens my day, and I forward many of them to my sister in Marinette, who then shares them with great-grandma who takes equal joy in them. Twenty years ago, I might get a phone call, letter or snapshot of the birthday girl, but because of technology, I get to "see" her daily, and even talk to her and her parents, via the miracle of "face time." And I exchange texts during each day with my daughter, in the original virus epicenter of Seattle. Reassurance, humor, pictures of our pets.

My mother's clan are a large and tight-knit bunch " and 23 of us share a group e-mail, gathering us in Washington State, Oregon, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Wisconsin. We share coping strategies, tales of toddler moms struggling to work from home, birthday wishes and recipes. (One "mom working from home" story involved a little tyke and a large quantity of paper towel being inappropriately used as a substitute for toilet paper, followed by a kitchen tongs being disposed of in the trash. Use your imagination.) We laugh and commiserate in our long e-mail chain. This touchpoint helps all of us, from the young singles to the great-grandmothers. We all rejoice at pictures of infant Delilah Monroe, the newest clan member. There would have been no way, 20 years ago, to connect all of us in the same forum. It is a gift, a blessing, at a time like this.

I dearly miss my friends at yoga and Tai-Chi classes. I faithfully practice at home, because the stress relief is so helpful. But it's not the same as visiting with the class members " a group that is positive, cheerful, supportive and funny. That group and my awesome instructors are a stress-reliever during our class times, even if we didn't engage in exercise. But through the miracle of live computer connections, my yoga class gathers at the same time, if not in the same place. We are able to chat and laugh, (although only one of us can talk at a time and believe me, with that group THAT is a challenge!) and will be led through a practice by our instructor's familiar and soothing voice. We aren't in "the same place" physically but we are mentally. We are helping one another through this period, while looking forward to being in the studio together again soon.

I am so fortunate. I think of a Times reader in Crivitz that I correspond with via e-mail, who depends on her local library for computer access. It's closed now, of course, so I sent her a card in the mail. It is bad enough to be isolated at home, but to be isolated from the internet is a further deprivation for someone who lives alone.

I still use regular mail, especially for my 91 year old aunt, and another aunt who is locked down in a care facility. Tried and true tools for those without electronic connections. But I am grateful, truly grateful, for technology right now.

But all the same, there is no substitute for a long, in person, hug. I am missing my hugs right now, and looking forward to better days ahead when my kids and granddaughter will be in my arms again.

Memory jogger:

The wonderful effort of those among us who have sewing talents to make facemasks for non-medical personnel to use reminded me of something from my youth.

My mom used to gather with her "Homemaker Club," and they would spend hours rolling up long strips of cut material to be used as "cancer bandages." She couldn't remember exactly who used the bandages. Somehow, that grass-roots activity of caring people reminded me of what so many are doing with their sewing machines at home now. A volunteer at the animal shelter where I work spends many hours making dog and cat beds for us to sell as a fund raiser; she has now switched to facemasks and made cute ones of pet-themed cloth for all the shelter volunteers. Her tireless service to us is inspiring.

Thought for the week: While many of us, as a matter of faith, give up something for Lent, we are all, of a faith tradition or not, getting a lesson in letting go of things right now.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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