Desert Stories, Desert Stones

Writing Prompt (Natural Abundance): Find five pretty or interesting rocks.

Last month we visited Ray at his home at Sun City in Palm Desert, CA. It was really nice to see him after a year of pandemic-mandated distance — and the last time I saw him was the day Mom passed away. So it was a relief to reacquaint under more normal circumstances, even though we social distanced responsibly with masks and an outside patio visit.

Last June, Paul and I were guests at our friend Scotty’s family cottage on the Isle of Springs — a perfect place to get away from the world’s craziness. We cooked, kayaked, walked through the island woodlands, sipped cocktails, scouted the beaches for sea glass and dug for littleneck clams, listened to music, played card games, put together jigsaw puzzles, and enjoyed fine sunset views over the Sheepscot river to the mainland.

Continue reading “Desert Stories, Desert Stones”

One Year Later…

A beautiful morning in Florida, even here in tropical climates there is seasonal change, however small compared to the northern/southern extremes. The sun feels stronger, warmer, the sky a lighter blue than the thicker, deeper sky of winter. The windows are open, I have a vase filled with a generous bouquet of daffodils. I’ve always welcomed spring, time for rebirth and newness.

It’s been a year since the COVID-19 pandemic uprooted our lives. On March 11 2020 the World Health Organization declared it a global pandemic. At work I was in a weeks of uncertainty about working remotely, there was a company-wide email from the CEO a few days earlier about this, some team managers interpreted this as an immediate directive, other teams (like mine) met to discuss options and preferences.

All of us were thinking this would be a matter of weeks or a couple of months; we all expected to be back in the office by May. We quickly threw together shared “checkout” spreadsheets for office items taken home (monitors, chairs, docking stations…), work schedules since some parents now had to balance their children’s at-home school, and guidelines on remote tools (like chat), meeting protocols and daily team standup meetings.

In any case, March 12 2020 was the last day in the office for everyone at Illumina — worldwide. I packed my bags for the bike ride home with as many of my personal items that would fit in my backpack. I made a trip by car the next morning to get my electronics and belongings from by bike locker (shoes, belts, workout clothes).

It was all very sudden and a bit surreal — in January there were scattered news reports of a new virus in Asia of the SARS and Ebola strains. But those past epidemics, while severe in localities where it struck, didn’t travel. Soon there were reports of cases in France, a surge in Italy, next Iran. But the “problem” seemed so far away — until it wasn’t. Soon there were cases in the Pacific Northwest as it spread like wildfire through retirement homes and the first U.S. death was reported in Seattle. It was upon us, and it felt different.

Continue reading “One Year Later…”