Please get vaccinated if you can. We are very tired.
A dialysis social worker
Send us a photo and a caption. If you'd prefer not to share a photo, send us your "snapshot" in prose - 100 words or less. We'll post selected submissions regularly.Last updated 02.22.2021
A couple of weeks before Hanukkah, I lamented that we would not be able to gather in person with anyone outside our two-person bubble to celebrate the holiday. Then I realized that our menorah collection, which numbers close to two-dozen, includes one designed for outside use since it is enclosed in metal and glass with little chimneys at the top. With this menorah we could safely defy our isolation. On two evenings, we invited an assortment of family and friends to gather in our front yard to communally light the menorah and sing Hanukkah songs. Together we celebrated our liberation from the oppression of this pandemic.
Down under we have faced lockdowns, opening up, then lockdowns again. The borders of our states have often been closed. Air travel has been restricted. We’ve seen panic buying, oddly on toilet paper, which exposes priorities. Much of Australia is COVID-free, so it's quite surreal to look out at what is happening in the United States. We have not started our vaccine program yet. We have seen about 900 deaths in a population of more than 25 million, so it's easy to forget a killer lurks unseen.
My lovely stepsister, a front-line home health aide, died from COVID-19 on Easter Sunday. Pulmonary embolism nearly killed me, a healthy and fit 58-year-old man, in July. Correlation between PE and COVID is unclear, but I tested positive for COVID antibodies and negative for COVID. Doctors were flabbergasted. I recovered and am OK. But you never know. COVID might take you from this life in unexpected ways, so please be careful and safe.
Since I rely on reading lips to hear, masks make it difficult. My winter coat hides my T-shirt. Now I carry a clipboard and pen so that cashiers and salespeople can write down responses. It takes a long time to buy shoes when the salesperson has to write down every answer. Recently, I was excited about “traveling” to Florence via live video on Zoom until it dawned on me that the speakers would be wearing masks. There is no traveling overseas in my future until masks are obsolete. COVID-19 is isolating me and altering my life.
Remember me — Cherries in the Snow?
I miss you. I miss seeing my trace on your coffee cup. I miss seeing your kiss when you greet your granddaughters.
Each morning before breakfast, you’d gently turn my cylindrical body to the right and apply your favorite color: me. You never looked in the mirror. We’ve been going together for so long, there was no need.
These days, however, you’re covered under sad, plain masks. You need color. I know these are challenging times, but I want to assure you that I’m still here. Just look on your dressing table.
My dear friends — all seniors — had a pandemic potluck for Thanksgiving. We each cooked one element of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, then brought single servings in containers to an outdoor masked gathering the day before. Each person went home with a fabulous complete dinner, and we all Zoomed together on Thanksgiving day.
On Monday, Nov. 2, the winds were blowing strong. Perhaps Harvard Square’s windiest place is near the soaring, white, smooth-finished William James Hall. Sparrows shelter in the bushes skirting the 15-story structure that was designed by the architect of the World Trade Center towers. Against the wind, two workers plant trees on Kirkland Street. Water from a 5-gallon bottle is poured into the green Tyvek collar around the tree trunk. Greening urban landscapes today, we prepare for our future. Come what may, we’ll be sheltered and comforted by trees. American pragmatism lives.
How I cope? Daily "pandemic postcards" to four grandkids. Not being physically with grandkids since March (except occasionally) has been a bummer. About a month ago, I started sending one postcard a day — birds, flowers, trivia facts — to each grandchild. I ask a question or tell them something about me. I look forward to writing, and they (ages 5, 8, 10, and 11) look forward to receiving them!
I sent a postcard in March when I started my cartoon diary documenting life in this pandemic with my young daughter. I've been keeping it going, and sadly — notably — I recently completed my 200th page of this project (I call it "Extraordinary Times"). It's full of my notes and observations on what our locked-down, preschool-less life has been like. It's amazing to me how much we've learned and changed since March, but still, none of it feels "normal" to me.
We have been meeting outdoors once a week since March with friends for drinks and snacks — we sit socially distanced at little tables, and people bring their own drinks, snacks, and chairs. We decided to try the same thing for a family gathering for an early celebration of my 80th birthday. We basically followed the same rules, but we provided the food, and my masked wife Paula served it to folks, one masked couple at a time. We all had a great time.
Each week, my son, Matthew, occasionally works from home. I am retired and try to stay over a few days a week to assist with his two children, Fox, 4, and Wren Donna, 2. Recently, a situation came up at his work that required his immediate assistance. I took this picture as he was focused intensely on his computer and his son was doing everything to get his attention — even climbing on his back while he worked. This picture captures the intensity, the closeness, and the balancing act of a son and father that working from home often requires.
During the pandemic, I’ve stayed close to home — well, at home, actually. And during these months, within these walls, I’ve focused my lens a good deal on our cats, who seem to love the attention. Of late, I’ve used my camera, which means that I have to wait some time to have the film developed. It usually takes a week or two before I see the results. And as the development of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics will also require more time, I hope my patience as a photographer helps hold me steady.
When you reach a certain age, you stop asking too many questions and start to do a lot of navel-gazing, pondering things such as the ancient legend of the immortality of the frog.
The frog asked: "Who am I? What do I have left to do?” She sought the answer in the silence, and in her dreams.
How sweet life was then. She cherished doing nothing, and, after having done nothing, she found pleasure resting.
Such were the days of the pandemic in 2020.
Good advice on a napkin: Changing one letter makes all the difference. Take the advice on the napkin and vote in person or by mail. In Massachusetts, the last day to register to vote is Oct. 24, and applications for mail-in ballots must be received by Oct. 28. So don’t forget to register and then vote. (Thank you for the reminder and the advice, folded napkin.) With the uncertainty of the pandemic, it’s the least we all can do.
I call it my morning constitutional — the 50 or so steps from the car to the door of the nursing home. There, I hand my daily love letter to the receptionist for delivery to my husband of 56 years. The ritual began in March, when afternoons by his side were prohibited. No more hugs and kisses. So I had to do something. We might be physically separated, but no damn virus was going to keep us apart. Today I will bring my 209th letter to my sweet John.
Planning our wedding during the pandemic was a stressful task for us. After many tears, worries, and guideline changes, our wedding day came. We got rain — lots of rain! It was the only thing we did not plan for.
It did not matter. We were married.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I was asked to integrate my two professions — singer-songwriter and mind-body psychotherapist — into a weekly livestream called, "Songs from the Heart, Meditations for the Heart." Providing uplifting music and an inspirational meditation has proved to be a valuable resource.
I never used to write poetry. These days, it's all that feels right. By putting things under a microscope, I can forget that the world itself feels smaller, one-dimensional.
When the pandemic hit, it felt like all of my creativity evaporated. Everything I wrote felt stiff and stunted. Now, when I pick up a pen, I write a verse in five minutes and it's finished.
There are fewer rules in poetry, real or imagined. It's all emotion.
I write poetry now. I am a different person.
Can you feel it? A shift in yourself?
Organized religion has been on the decline in the United States. But boy, am I glad I belong to a synagogue in COVID times. Zoom prayer services and programs galore. Getting a couple of personal calls just to ask how I am doing. A drive-by gathering at our synagogue parking lot so that I can make donations for area food banks and can pick up a bag of goodies for our High Holidays. How valuable is this? Priceless.
Early in COVID lockdown, I planted dried black beans and a variety of other seeds, mostly from foods we were eating then. I wanted something to look forward to, some purpose to all of this staying at home. I’ve now been harvesting a bumper crop of fantastic kale and basil, gorgeous tomatoes (when Johnny the squirrel doesn’t steal them), green beans, oregano, and the black beans, which are a bit useless for eating unless you grow a lot more than I did. But these are still a visually beautiful part of this chapter, and they make me feel wonderful.
Seeking solace and happiness in the world of nature is a perfect solution. I have sought comfort by watching my bird feeder and taking long walks to see the flowers and the birds and animals. All I needed was my smartphone to capture hundreds of images of the world beyond my four walls.
I feel like the world around me is falling apart. All these stores are shut down, and there are all these new rules and regulations we need to follow. Our classes have resumed, which adds a sense of normalcy during all of this craziness. I also feel like things are beginning to calm down. It's times like these where you're reminded of the importance of family.
This summer has been interesting, definitely. Quarantine was a dark time for me. As an extrovert, it was difficult spending so much time in solitude when I'm used to going out a lot and being around those I love. Once quarantine was lifted, I was blessed enough to get a new job and work on the Ocean City boardwalk with two close friends. I've been making the best of this pandemic by trying to stay positive despite the circumstances, and staying in contact with friends and family. I'm glad I have been able to see most of them and reconnect, since it had been so long since I had seen them last.
Shrewsbury School Committee member Lynsey Heffernan passes into town folklore for her resourcefulness. During a recent online public meeting, a lightning strike took out power to her neighborhood. But she was back in minutes, using her cellphone and pointing a flashlight at her face in the darkened room.
My chorus, the Mystic Chorale, has been hosting weekly virtual sing-alongs for months. These create a wonderful sense of community and connection. In the center of this photo from the spring is Berklee professor Jonathan Singleton and his wife Deborah Freeman leading everyone (more than 350 of us) in a rousing gospel song.
My pandemic lunches are usually solitary. At first I looked at Facebook while I ate, but cats or political posts got to be unsatisfying. I wanted more engaging lunch partners. So I began the practice of “Having Lunch with a Poet.” Schools make poetry intimidating by demanding a “right” interpretation. I decided to ignore “right” and to simply respond to a poet’s insight, in one line or image, or in a whole collection. Lunch became an adventure. I felt filled with beauty and myster, not just a sandwich. My recent poet companions: Wislawa Szymborska, Andrea Cohen, and Christian Wiman.
Remotely teaching sculpture classes for a half semester with students, widely scattered, at their homes, away from tools, materials, and technical instruction, was far from ideal. The classroom shrank from an equipped shop, with access to clay, plaster, wood, plastic, and metal, to the shallow space of our laptops (the image here of my laptop propped up in my Boston studio is from late May). Students gamely stepped up to each assignment, substituting cardboard, string, paper, and cloth for other materials, and addressing the space of their bedrooms to meet requirements in the midst of much uncertainty. Perseverance!
I am used to moving around. As a preschool teacher, it's all I do. Since March I have been home. When I started paying more attention to my surroundings, I would go to the backyard and listen to the birds chirping and see the skunks and bunnies checking out what might be there for them. I started walking over to the private beach nearby. Early mornings are my favorite, and getting to witness the amazing sunrises gives me a great jump-start to the day.
Heading east on the mid-Cape toward the sea on an August morning, we laugh as a turkey flies up beside the road, as graceful as an airborne mop. The bruising semester of not being with my students is forgotten until a sign on a bridge overpass: "Teachers Want to Teach, Not Die."
I have a big postcard collection from a lifetime of picking them up wherever I went. Now I am sending them all out. I find it's a great way to tell my friends and relatives I am thinking of them. It's funny because it's also like a diary of my life so far.
I watch the world in my small backyard, where I’ve planted, with no landscape logic in mind, indigenous flowers and plants to lure butterflies and hummingbirds. I’ve replaced the grass with clover, which the bees love. I feed and watch blue jays, sparrows, finches, mourning doves, and cardinals. A pair of shy voles raise their young in this urban eden. I look forward to mornings, when squirrels hang upside down from the wrought iron grille on my back door to get my attention. But mostly, I watch the bumblebees. Sometimes, if I’m careful, I can stroke their fur.
Two furloughs, one family member lost, three health insurance changes, two months of job hunting, one part-time job found. Countless books read and shows and movies watched ("Hamilton," anyone?). One birthday. One Zoom Seder. Two separate tailbone injuries. One sprained foot. This is my quarantine by the numbers. No one’s is alike, though many of us now know about Zoom backgrounds and "Tiger King." I used to walk miles daily in my neighborhood, grateful to see the city skyline and to be alive. Now my air cast prevents me from walking far, but I’m still grateful.
Ah, my golden years. A long-awaited opportunity to see and do all that could not be done when working. COVID has thwarted this. No volunteer work, no trips, no concerts, no plays, no movies on the cinema screen. Not even lunch out with retiree friends. I’ve gone grocery and CVS shopping (masked of course) and done Netflix and Zoom and takeout. And there is the gym’s pool, just reopened. Limited occupancy and constant sanitizing. But I'm grateful for that escape. It’s both exercise and a cocoon for tired bones. I can almost forget the new world order that has wrecked all my plans.
“You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” sang Joni Mitchell. Watching sports (mostly football, basketball, and baseball) is one of my favorite things to do. Now I'm especially missing football. I long to see those Hail Mary passes, fumble recoveries, and interceptions. I yearn to watch the games with my brother and dad in our matching Patriots jerseys, and to yell and root for the Pats while sitting in the bleachers or at home. I miss trash-talking my friends who support the Jets and Giants. I can’t wait to return to my crazy superstitions, like crossing my legs, arms, and feet. Mostly, I wish to be together with family and friends again, bonding over something we all share.
I'm sad not to be with the man I love, who is in Mexico. I've not seen him for almost five months, and it could be a couple more before it's safe to travel. But in the meantime, I'm finishing and will self-publish two children's books I wrote almost a decade ago, and I'm slowly completing a quilt for my granddaughter. I've also made friends with Oliver, a Steller's jay who calmly walks up my arm to take nuts. I'm grateful, explaining that this bird is the only living being I've touched in nearly five months.
I stayed at home starting March 18. I had lots of projects — made cloth masks, started turning my lawn into a terraced garden, upcycled fabric into a painting. At the end of May, I was asked to come back to my job. About half the people weren't wearing masks, or were only half-wearing them. Now more people wear masks, but there are still some who don't. A week ago the first employee was diagnosed with COVID-19. People who were in direct contact with this person were told, but I'm not sure if they are required to be tested. I think that's the extent of the contact tracing. I'm worried and unsure if I should continue working there because of my age — 63.
My family is nearing the end of a three-month project where we are walking every street in Arlington, and there are a lot of them. Using the map from our local phone book, we set out almost every day, sometimes twice a day, and pound the pavement. In the process, we have discovered extraordinary architecture, amazing views, secret nooks and crannies — and also how the Black Lives Matter movement has transformed our town. Every week we take a photo of the map to show our progress — we started May 1 and will finish Aug. 1. And almost every day we learn something new about a town that, after 17 and a half years, we thought we knew. We've discovered that we had barely scratched the surface.
I am a watercolorist. For the past 20 years, I have focused on polar and frozen places. Once the pandemic hit, everything my work was involved in was canceled — shows, classes, etc. In a class I was taking, we were assigned to paint an interior landscape. The images of animals moving into “human” spaces during the pandemic captivated me. I’ve made over 30 paintings of these settings. “Penguin and the Cesari” encapsulates both my wonder at this new world and my longing for the old one.
With the exception of our sheets, I’ve been hand-washing all of our laundry since the end of March. We live in an apartment without a washer and dryer, and I found myself dreading the laundromat when laundry began piling up at that time. At first, I thought of it as a stopgap, but I found that by doing a little every day, I was making quite a dent in the baskets. Now it is just part of my daily routine. Clothes hang in doorways and over chairs, but until things are much improved, we aren’t having any company anyway.
I've been a widow for three and a half years. I thought I was doing OK, and then the pandemic hit. The loneliness was almost unbearable. I belong to a poets group, and I put together a poetry reading on Zoom that we recorded and shared via the local access TV station. Writing poetry has helped a lot of us get through this.
I had gotten used to seclusion before most others since I was going through chemo treatments for breast cancer in the fall and winter and into spring. The loneliness came when I could not bring a loved one with me into the hospital for my lumpectomy, the last set of my chemo treatments, and my radiation treatments. I had a scary reaction to my first dose of this last cycle, and I had no one holding my hand telling me I was going to be OK. People are whining about having to wear a mask into stores. I cannot have a hand to hold while fighting cancer. It's a scary battle that deserves a hand to hold.
I had to evacuate from a Vietnam holiday and leave everything behind in China, including these two sweet girls I rescued from the side of the road last summer. I am desperate to get them here to the United States, but without flights, they must be shipped, and it’s insanely expensive. I am losing hope.
I was doing pretty well with the lockdown for the past few months. Reading and watching movies. While sitting outside, soaking up nature in my green and bird-filled yard. Then, pow! The heat wave hit. Summer in the Deep South means no going out except to get the mail. Now I am stuck inside, looking out the window.
I had gotten smug, bragging about how I had saved the day when my daughter broke her ankle. Super Me jumped into gear, merged our households, took over caring for her young children, and rounded up volunteers from among my friends to provide meals.
After nine weeks passed, I proposed a Phase Two plan for the summer. She listened.
"Sure, Mom, whatever you can do to help would be great." The answer came from some faraway place. "But what if there is no school next year?"
It’s so nice to be able to share my homesickness with you. My husband and I are stranded in our winter home in Las Vegas, where we never envisioned living year-round. In late January, I realized that the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan was going to head our way, but no one really believed me, so I did not reschedule our April flight back to Boston. Big mistake.
Needless to say, we are still out here, and I think we will remain so for the foreseeable future. I don’t believe it will be safe to fly home until there is a significant breakthrough in a treatment or a vaccine for COVID-19.
I miss New England. I miss Boston. And I miss our home in Haverhill. I miss lobster rolls, fried clams, Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee, green grass, woods, lakes, and everything about home. But at least I can still read my Boston Globe online every morning. Still, I long for the day when I can walk out my door and pick up a copy of my Globe to read over coffee in my Haverhill home.
Here is a photo of our COVID protection rack, which we installed in late March, right by our front door — sort of like our key rack, but for our different methods of staying safe when we venture out beyond our front door. It now shows the accumulated methods we've been using: first, our "Covid cloths" in plastic bags (inspired by the Globe's March 17 letter to the editor, "Have 'Covid cloth,' will travel"), then a variety of bandanas, then an N95 mask or two that we scrounged from the tool closet, some hand-sewn masks made by someone in our synagogue, and finally, some store-bought blue paper masks.
Here is my son-in-law, Rob, showing off his new son, Montgomery, born during the lockdown. They are at the sliding glass door to their deck so that their friends can see the baby. Here is unconditional love, pride, and hope in the midst of chaos. This is Father's Day 2020.
Like many people, I find solace in sunsets, baking bread, and children's laughter, but I caught myself especially at peace helping my father with yard work and observing his method of stretching out a new leaf bag. It seems ridiculous initially, but then you realize it's actually the most logical way to do it. Now I see why the elders are always the wisest. Thanks, Dad, for always being Dad.
A volunteer picked up groceries for me. I opened the bag, and there was a bunch of lavender tulips. Confined to home by both the pandemic and health issues, I had been longing for flowers to bring a bit of spring into my apartment. A stranger had granted my wish. When I texted her, she told me that she thought they would brighten a difficult time. I placed the tulips in a vase on my living room window sill, gazing at them often, until the petals dried and fell to the floor.
Early in the pandemic, my three granddaughters came up with the idea of porch visits. They sat inside by the window. I sat outside. You published a Postcard of us on April 20. Now that warm days have arrived, our visits have evolved. We set up a picnic table on the porch. The girls sit on one bench. I sit on the opposite bench. We keep a safe distance, but we feel closer without the window separating us.
Recently, the girls devoured quesadillas while I read to them, and they savored ice cream cones on a hot day. We still can’t hug or share lunch items. But it’s good enough, for now.
Please don’t pass judgment or think that I am crazy. Here’s one thing that is getting me through the pandemic: the squirrels. Yeah, OK, I know. These abundant rodents are destructive to homes and property. But I just can’t help it. They are so entertaining, performing on-the-spot acrobatics for a few peanuts, and they are much better to watch than TV during the pandemic.
I’m a dining room attendant for AdviniaCare at Seashore Pointe in Provincetown. Since the outbreak of coronavirus, I’ve been dressing up in different costumes to bring some levity to the residents, since many do not leave their rooms. I just want to brighten up their day.
We’ve weathered the stay-at-home order very well in my piano studio in Newburyport. All 40 of my students switched to online lessons using FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom, and we are now completing our second virtual recital since mid-March. I divided the recital into sections by personal attributes that my students and their families have shown during this epidemic. The sections were: We are brave, we are resilient, we are creative, we are optimists, we are confident, we remain playful, we remain positive, and we remain grateful. Here is one of my students, Eliza Burton, age 10.