Readers, Welcome to my blog (formerly Birds, Blooms, Books, etc). I'm entering a new decade taking on the challenge of moving from Maryland after living there 46 years and learning about my new home here in New England in the Live Free or Die state - New Hampshire. Join me as a write this new chapter of my life.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020


Dan's niece is a pediatric nurse in Virginia.  She works at a pediatric urgent care facility and is now doing drive up testing for children.

Look what she wears.  I think she would scare the kids.

Our masks that daughter Emily has made are making their way here.  She made 6 total.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Latest News from Here

The news from here, The Residences of Vantage Point a continuing care retirement community in Columbia, MD is not good.

One of the residents of the memory care floor in the health center wing developed severe symptoms of coronavirus, was taken to the hospital where they died from Covid-19 early Sunday morning.

This is the first case here.  Surprisingly enough it wasn't someone in independent living who has more contact though limited by social distancing with the outside world.

It means a staff person nursing on that floor was asymptomatic for Covid -19.  Precautions are being taken though we haven't been told what but would assume that anyone in contact with the resident is now in quarantine for 14 days.  That could mean quite a number of staff people.

It could mean that staff working on that floor were also on the nursing floor and the assisted living floor exposing residents who live there.  They may have even been staffing the Wellness Center and the garage check in desk where we've stopped to have our temperatures taken upon returning from the grocery store and walks.

With this news we will be even more vigilant. No more trips to the grocery store. No more hanging out in the common areas here.  

Our daughters are concerned for us. Emily is making us masks to wear when we go out of the apartment.  She's been making them for the local hospital in NH.

Today is our 46th anniversary.  No special celebration.  No dinner out in a nice restaurant.  We are both ordering the pomegranate salad with grilled shrimp for dinner.  It will be delivered by 4 o'clock. When it arrives in the brown bag, I'll remove the containers, transfer the contents to another plate and wash my hands thoroughly.

Pictures were from a walk we took on Thursday along the Patuxent River.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Time for Some Laughs

A Plane has 5 passengers on board, Donald Trump, the Pope, Dr Anthony Fauci , Hillary Clinton, and a ten year old school girl. The plane is about to crash and there  are only 4 parachutes.

Dr Fauci, said “I need one. I have to help develop a cure for the global health crisis that is COVID19!” He takes one and jumps.

The pope said “I need one, I have to help spiritually guide people through the global health crisis that is COVID19!” He takes one and jumps.

Trump said ‘‘I need one, I’m the smartest man in the USA.” He takes one and jumps.

Hillary said to the ten year old "you can have the last parachute. I've lived my life, yours is only starting". The 10 year old said "Don’t worry, there are 2 parachutes left. The smartest man in the USA took my school bag."


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Books & Virus

So staying in, not having events to attend or having to volunteer at Neighbor Ride means I get to do much more reading than I had been doing.  Here are some recent books I've read that I want to pass on to you.

The Tale Teller by Anne Hillerman
If you ever read any Tony Hillerman books set on the Navajo Reservation you will recognize the characters in this book.  I can't say I read all of Tony's books but even reading some I could follow this mystery written by his daughter.  I can't say it was written as well.  Something was missing.  Maybe it was in the long dialogues without much description.  It still was an interesting mystery.

The Brownstone House by Rae Foley
This was written in 1974!  No cell phones, computers, internet in this mystery.  A story of three young women, friends in college, who still are connected out of college because of the largesse of one of them.  The story is told from only one of their viewpoints and its not the benefactress. Lots of twists and turns, betrayals and lies make it a good read. I thought I had it figured out but I didn't.

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts
I picked this one up at the library on its second to last day before closing. Do you know the name L. Frank Baum? The author of the Wizard of Oz?  His wife, Maud, is the subject of this book.  It describes her life, courtship and early marriage to Frank while flashing forward to 1939 when the movie version with Judy Garland as Dorothy is being filmed.  Maud wants to preserve Frank's vision of Oz in the movie and finds herself concerned for the welfare of Judy Garland.  Besides a view into the movie making business, it gives a picture of the hardships of living during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Mama's Boy: A Story from Our Americas by Dustin Lance Black
This was my book club's selection for March.  We discussed it over emails last Friday.  Maybe next month we all can get on Zoom.  Black describes his mother's life growing up with polio away from her family for 10 or more years of her life.  That was eye opening! Her marriages, raising her children as a single mom when the marriages don't work out.  Black is her middle son who recognizes early on that he is gay but hides it because of the consequences of that living in the South, in a Mormon family.  This book is so very well written.  One hard to put down.  You will be impressed by his Mother and Black and their forbearance in troubled times.

I think there are only 2 ways the coronavirus is going to come to Vantage Point where I live.

1.  Those of us who are still driving and going out to grocery stores may pick it up unknowingly from a shopping cart, button on the checkout, a pen, a can or package, etc.  Then bring it back here.

2. Staff working here though they are checked daily may be infected and nonsymptomatic and bring it in to us.

So far so good. But it's just a matter of time.

Monday, March 23, 2020

The Latest

1.  The governor of Maryland has ordered non-essential businesses to close as of 5 pm today.  We had already heard from our dentist and eye doctor that they would only deal with emergencies.  Don't know if they will have to close further.

2. Here we now need to take our temperatures in the morning and fill out a sheet with listings of symptoms.  Check any symptoms we have or the box no symptoms.  We put it back in the envelope and leave out on our shelf by 10:30 am.  We'll get another sheet later in the day for the next morning.

3. Dan inquired and just got word that we can checkout some weights for exercising in our apartments.  That's good news.  I used the community app to do two fitness programs this morning.  Weights will be a help to keep fit.

4.  My brother in law in Charlottesville suburbs, who I wrote had the symptoms of Covid-19, learned from test results that it was not influenza A.  He was not tested for coronavirus!  I'd take from that he did/does have it.  His case doesn't appear in the count.  Dan says he read the real count is 10 times what we read.  Now I understand why since many people are getting it but not tested.

5.  I've decided that to keep away the blues I need to keep to my old routines and modify as needed.  Like since no Muscle Toning class to attend now use that time to do the online exercise.  I'm also making a list of what to accomplish in the day so I can feel productive.  Writing this blog post is on the list and will cross it off as soon as this is posted.

Here's another funny to close:

Sunday, March 22, 2020

More Restrictions and Time Out

A new memo appeared on our shelf outside our apartment door.  Updated restrictions based upon the CDC, CMS, state health department and Life Care Services.

No more movies in the auditorium.

No more fitness classes or fitness videos in the auditorium.

Limits on gatherings of every sort in our common areas.

Limit of two on the elevator at a time.

Going out of the building only for essentials like doctor visits, prescriptions that can't be delivered  or food though they'd prefer we order groceries to be delivered.

We try to take time out every day.  Thursday we went to our old stomping grounds to walk along the Patapsco River.  Wouldn't you know we met up with former neighbors we haven't seen since we moved.  We kept our distance especially when they said they'd just returned from a 22 day cruise on the Amazon.  Saturday we went to the Howard County Conservancy to walk.

Here are scenes from our riverside walk.

Across the river the railroad is going passed.  Dan counting the cars did his multiplication and figured that the train was 1.25-1.5 miles long. 

Can you see the tree blossoms?

Spring beauties all over.

A twisted tree.

Evidence that a beaver has been at work.

Skunk cabbage.

The trail was muddy in places.

More beaver work.

Here the beaver has ringed the tree which means it will die.

Dan said of this beaver stump that it was the work of this beaver's grandfather.

This poor tree has this snake like vine growing on it.

Only picture from Conservancy walkway of this barred owl in its cage.

Next time we walk I'll take my camera.  The iPhone pictures seem so dark most of the time.  Is there some setting I should change?

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Words for All of Us

Emily Landon, chief infectious disease epidemiologist at University of Chicago Medicine gave these words yesterday.  Here's the article with video clip 

Her most important words were these:

“It’s really hard to feel like you’re saving the world when you’re watching Netflix from your couch. But if we do this right, nothing happens,” Landon said. “A successful shelter-in-place means you’re going to feel like it was all for nothing, and you’d be right: Because nothing means that nothing happened to your family. And that’s what we’re going for here.”


In other news, it looks like my brother in law in Charlottesville, VA has weathered the virus.  I don't think he ever had a confirming test but it all seems like that it was Covid-19.  Now we have to see if my sister gets it. They have 8 grandchildren that they cannot see except through video even though they live close by.


Need something to laugh at?

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Tracking Covid-19 Cases

I added a sidebar to track the numbers of new cases in Howard County where I live.  I was initially relying on a local paper but its numbers were inflated compared to The Washington Post so I'm using the Post as my source from now on.

Maryland recorded its first death from the virus today.  It won't be the last.
Update: since I originally posted new numbers came out.  My county doubled overnight and now stands at 16 cases one of whom is a 5 year old child.

So here's a bit of humor unrelated to these times or maybe not.  We all may be getting that tour.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

A Poem for the Times


by Lynn Ungar
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now, 
on trying to make the world
different than it is. 
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
Here's a link to her blog: Lynn Ungar 3/11/20
My sister-in-law sent this out.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

New restrictions here:
Dining rooms are closing tomorrow.  We will order meals and they will be delivered to our apartments.
All group activities are canceled.
No guests allowed.
If we go out we must have a wellness check up on our return. No exceptions.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

It's Gotten Closer

Read the news bulletin that coronavirus had arrived in our county today.  Paramedics took an 82 year old woman to the hospital.  Unfortunately for the medics they didn't arrive in proper garb to be protected and now are quarantined for 14 days.

It won't be long before we have more cases.  The woman was in a nursing home.

Our church met today.  We are a small congregation that shares space in an interfaith center.  We were the only congregation that met.  Instead of a sermon we made bag lunches for the local homeless shelter.  We decided after worship that next week the "worship service" would be streamed on FaceBook. What we don't know is how long this will be for.  The interfaith center is likely to close down sometime next week too.

Finally with the virus arriving here in the county, the county executive announced that the malls, bars and restaurants would be closed.  Only exception would be for restaurants that deliver food.

The only thing on my calendar that would take me out of Vantage Point, my home, is volunteering at Neighbor Ride.  Even that may not happen.

The world is closing down.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Signs of Spring

Life goes on despite the horrible state of the world's health.

I took a walk after lunch and captured some signs of spring.

Daffodils in the woods along the trail.

New green leaves

A greening of the ground cover on the river bank.

A willow showing its new color.

At first I thought this swath of yellow was pansies.

Closer inspection and I discovered miniature daffodils.

In the raised bed in the gardens behind Vantage Point the perennials I rescued from daughter's home to babysit before she moved to Buffalo, NY are showing new growth.

We learned last night that they found a house to purchase and their contract was accepted.  These plants should have a new home come late June.  Well, that's if we can travel there then.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Our World is Shutting Down

I spent my four hour shift at Neighbor Ride today mostly contacting clients and drivers to tell them rides had been canceled and taking calls from clients who were told by doctors not to come in to offices.

Word came out about two hours into my stint that the county executive had ordered the library to close for two weeks and senior centers to close for 45 days.  That meant more calls to be made canceling rides that had been put into the system for the month.

A decision was made by the Neighbor Ride director in consultation with Office of Aging to limit rides for next two weeks to medical requests and then only those that had been requested as of today at 2 pm.  When I go in next Friday it will be to answer the phones and tell clients we can't take their requests.

Once I got home here to Vantage Point new restrictions have been placed on guests here:
No guests allowed in common areas.  So that means even the coffee machines are off limits.
No children under 14 allowed in the community at all.
Personal aides coming from outside contractors have to report to Wellness Center for health screening.  Common areas are off limits for them unless with a resident.

I read this op ed today that says to really slow the spread of this virus so that medical facilities can keep up we all need to stay put as much as we can.  

Wow! Our world is shutting down.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

New Measures to Keep Us Safe

Learned yesterday from the Director of this retirement community of new measures she is implementing to keep us Covid-19 free.

Outside performers. speakers, and class teachers are banned for two months.
I got emails from my card making teacher and Zentangle teacher that they will see me again in May.

Visitors to independent living tower are to be self screening.
Don't enter if you've traveled out of the country, or if you have any symptoms of any illness.

No more guests for meals in any of our eating venues.

Discouraging any visitors especially young children.

All trips canceled.

For the health center which has assisted living, comprehensive nursing care, and memory care all visitors are banned.

Staff for health center will be screened with temperature readings before starting work.

All staff are to monitor their health.

It goes on and will get more stringent. So far this county has no cases of the virus but adjacent counties all do. 

How is it where you live?

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Changing Plans

Life is changing around here.  We are a community of 60+ years and over. We have a bulls eye on us according to the CDC that if we get the coronavirus it will be much worse for us.  80+ years old have a 15% death rate from it, some sources are reporting.

Tomorrow is big meeting with the administrator who will likely tell us to restrict outside visitors.  We already have instructions that if you return from a cruise or out of the country you must be in quarantine for 14 days.  One couple returned from a trip to Costa Rica and another person from somewhere else and immediately were confined to their apartments.

We have no cases here in Howard County yet but its best to take the measures now instead of when someone has it in our community.  If that were to happen we'd all be confined to our apartments for 14 days.

We were to have friends for dinner and cards on Saturday and then again on Sunday.  Two different groups of 4.  It was a church auction item last spring.  I wrote to them all to indefinitely postpone it.

We have reservations in Boston at the end of the month for one night before going on to NH to see granddaughters in a ballet performance.  We will likely cancel the Boston reservation.

We have reservations in Wyoming in June to visit the Grand Tetons. We've rented a VRBO for the week. I put the date on the calendar when we can cancel with 100% return and that's April 8th. Don't know what we'll do with the United reservations.  They changed our flight going out to earlier in the day which means a longer layover in Chicago.  Don't think we'll want to do that.  Maybe we'll drive instead or just not go.

How is this threat impacting your life?

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Old Cake Recipe

Baked Meringue Spice Cake

Last month I made this cake to celebrate my mother in law's birthday.

The recipe came from an old cake recipe book published in 1950 that my mother in law gave to me many years ago.

I didn't have cake flour.  I used unbleached flour from King Arthur's and it tends to be dry so I had to use more liquid.  I knew that one egg white wouldn't be enough to cover the cake so used two.

It turned out to be nice and light and super tasty.

A real hit with everyone.