Thursday, April 9, 2020

Scenes from the New Normal

Elkridge, MD
April 7, 2020
The daily dog walk represents the only way we actually are guaranteed of leaving the house every day during the Stay at Home order. 

Flowering Crab Apple Tree
Elkridge, MD
April 7, 2020
Chris and I have taken to noticing the springtime as it develops and documenting it to provide us some relief form the constant stream of coronavirus news--most of it bad. 

Chris took all of the images in today's article during our Tuesday morning walk. The day was a beautiful, sporting a blue sky against which the flowers of the trees were accentuated. The walk itself was almost routine, but it was highlighted by the flowers of the Spring which were anything but routine. 

We took time to stop and smell the flowers along the way. The walk with the dog, or dogs depending upon Makayla's desire, is not about the destination it is about the journey. I could wish for grand scenery or a small lake to daily walk around and enjoy, but there is none. The walk is about the small things--the flowers, the animals, the neighborhood as it changes to meet the progression of the seasons. 

Finding things to keep busy and our minds engaged during the coronavirus Stay at Home is critical and the daily dog walk is something that will be part of the new normal when we are finally free to move about the county, state, country, and world again.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Front Lines of the Coronavirus

We are each on the front lines--each of us doing our part is waging the battle against the spread of the virus and striving to save lives--even our own lives. Granted, we may not be working as first responders or in the hospitals where the battle is begin waged--but by doing our part, sheltering in place and staying home we are helping them.

U.S.S. Arizona
Pearl Harbor
December 7, 1941
Chernobyl, Ukraine
The struggle against the coronavirus was likened to Pearl Harbor, but I heard someone say that was a false analogy because Pearl Harbor was a surprise attack. They felt that the virus was more like Chernobyl--the nuclear meltdown in the Ukraine. The idea being that the engineers should have seen that the potential for a nuclear meltdown and prepared for it, as it was the emergency procedures were woefully under planned and ineffective. I can see both sides of the discussion, as we also should have seen Pearl Harbor coming and planned better. Parking aircraft together in the center of the airfield to make them a better target is not the right response, and neither is tying all of the battleships up in neat rows where they cannot defend themselves.

Either way, the bottom line is that the US saw the coronavirus coming from China and Italy and did not get our preparations started and now we are struggling to catch up.

And people are dying while our leaders deflect blame and point fingers. 

Welcome to the front lines whether we wanted to be there or not.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Scene from the Walk--Coping with Coronavirus

Flowering Crabapple
Elkridge, MD
April 6, 2020
As part of my new normal there is the daily walk with the dog or sometimes dogs. Makayla frequently makes clear that she is not interested in the daily activity and is allowed to stay behind and watch TV.  

Found oe Reddit
Being Springtime, the walk allows me the opportunity  to see the Spring arrive in the flowers and the trees. The past couple days have been especially enjoyable as the skies have been clear and the sun warm. Each day, it seems, there is something new to see and enjoy. I have enjoyed seeing the transition of colors in the trees and flowers. From the whites, to the pinks, and reds there seems a progression that is followed every year which allows the bees to find constant sources of food until the summer flowers emerge. 

My big "event" yesterday was going to the allergist for my biweekly shot. I considered skipping it, but Chris reminded me that it is springtime and if I skip my shot I likely will develop a sinus infection that will require going to a doctor for medicine and that doctor will also be caring for coronavirus patients, unlike the allergist. 

During my downtime between brushing the pool and projects, I have begun scouring the internet for interesting things. Yesterday I found this image of a kingfisher which reportedly took years and 720,000 attempts to get perfect. And it is a magnificent image. 

The images and my daily walk help me to find beauty and joy despite the news of the day. I can affect my personal world while I may not be able to change the larger world.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, April 6, 2020

Monday Musings - April 6, 2020

1. It is the first Monday of April and of the week which is being called the Pearl Harbor in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus for the US.

2. The new normal is affecting every facet of life. I am amazed at how empty the roads are when I have to go to the store.

3. I have been driving for the third week on the same tank of gasoline and I still have three-quarters of a tank. 

Bumblebee on Chris's Glove
Elkridge, MD
April 4, 2020
4. Chris helped a bumblebee the other day. It crawled upon her work glove and sat in the sun for a few minutes. We are careful to not use any insecticides around to house to help protect the bee population.

5. Brushing the pool four times per day is not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. It goes fairly quickly. I am excited that the pool will soon bee ready for the season. We are going to have to have a big pool party when the "stay at home" order is finally lifted!

6. Chris and I are learning some new technology tools. We are becoming Zoom and Google Duo warriors! They are helping us to stay connected.

Keep Your Distance
Wegmans, Columbia, MD
April 4, 2020
7. It is Holy Week! Easter is upon us and the new normal is changing the way we approach the holiday. The pastor at church yesterday said that without all of the usual activity to keep us distracted, it will be just us and Jesus at the Easter dinner table.

8. Leadership is critical during times of crisis. I have seen examples of both great and poor leadership during the past week. Great leaders model good behavior and put their troops and people above self and career.

9. The new normal: signs on the grocery store floor to help patrons remain a safe distance from each other.

10. History Today. April 6, 1917, two days after the U.S. Senate voted 82 to 6 to declare war against Germany, the U.S. House of Representatives endorses the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally enters World War I.
When World War I erupted in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson pledged neutrality for the United States, a position that the vast majority of Americans favored. Britain, however, was one of America’s closest trading partners, and tension soon arose between the United States and Germany over the latter’s attempted quarantine of the British Isles. Several U.S. ships traveling to Britain were damaged or sunk by German mines, and in February 1915 Germany announced unrestricted warfare against all ships, neutral or otherwise, that entered the war zone around Britain. One month later, Germany announced that a German cruiser had sunk the William P. Frye, a private American vessel. President Wilson was outraged, but the German government apologized and called the attack an unfortunate mistake.


The U.S. was beset by denial and dysfunction as the coronavirus raged - The Washington Post

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Shopping with the New Normal

Me, With My New Mask
At Wegman's, Columbia, MD
April 4, 2020
Making our first trip into the "wild" yesterday, Chris and I visited Wegmans to obtain our two-week supply of food as we hunker down at home. 

We heeded the new guideline to wear masks in public and we also wore gloves to not only protect us from the world, but to protect the world from ourselves. 

With respect to wearing masks, I was distressed at the failure of the president to lead. One of the most important aspects of leadership is to model acceptable behaviors. When the president says that we should wear masks in public, but then goes on to say:  

“I just don’t want to be doing – somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk, the great Resolute Desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know, somehow I don’t see it for myself. Maybe I’ll change my mind, but this will pass, and hopefully it will pass very quickly.” (The Guardian)

That, friends, represents a failure of leadership! Rationalize his statement however you will, the end result is inescapable. Leaders must lead, not make excuses. They are judged by there actions and their results.

line Waiting to get into Wegmans
Columbia, MD
April 4, 2020
So with my new mask on my face, I found that shopping in Wegmans was a totally new experience. There is a line (queue) to enter the store and we waited for about 15 minutes before being allowed inside. Once inside we were directed to a station to wash our hands and sanitize our shopping cart. Everyone practiced social distancing. It was very weird to have people obviously avoiding getting near me like I was infected with the plague--Oh wait, I might be infected, no one knows. 

Sign Directing People to the Checkout Queue
Columbia, MD
April 4, 2020
On the plus side of the new normal equation, walking the aisles on a Saturday was a pleasant experience because the store limited the number of patrons who can enter. Even the check out is different, there is a single line with big dots on the floor designed to help patrons maintain acceptable social distancing. The store needs a dictionary because the cue referenced on the sign never materialized. There was, however, a queue. The wait to get to a register was minimal and I was impressed by the cleaning that is done between each customer. 

The new normal is anything but normal. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Coping with "Stay at Home"

The Pool Filled and Inviting--But Not Yet Ready
Elkridge, MD
April 3, 2020
 It is April. Spring has arrived! 

How am I coping with Maryland's "stay at home" order? I am working around the house and getting ahead on my Springtime projects.

I have fixed the tractor and mowed the lawn. Each day on our walk I marvel at the leaves on the trees as they open more and more and their shadows change from branches into a canopy.

Mulch in the Drive
Elkridge, MD
April 3, 2020
And my pool is open! It is too cold to swim and the chemicals are still being balanced--but it is open and I no longer have to look at the cover when I look into my backyard. Yes, I have to brush the newly installed plaster four times per day for the next two weeks, and then twice per day for the following two weeks, but then it will be May and the pool will be open for activity--if social distancing is lifted!

The mulch was delivered yesterday. Another outdoors project designed to help me celebrate Spring and cope with the "stay at home" order. And there are some stumps in the yard, remnants of the majestic ash trees that used to provide shade, that need grinding. Perhaps if the weather holds I will rent a stump grinder and enjoy working with heavy equipment for a day!

Finding things to do and taking advantage of the time  to accomplish things that I would otherwise have to cram into a busy schedule is an advantage of forced "stay at home."

I think I will be more than ready, however, when I am free to move about and my regularly over-scheduled life resumes. I am feeling a trip to Florida coming on! It will never replace my lost trip to Italy--but the change of scenery when this is all over will be great!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, April 3, 2020

Another Coronavirus Day

Maple Tree Seeds, or Samaras
From My Walk
Elkridge, MD
April 2, 2020
Sheltering in place, or staying at home to avoid becoming infected, is at least saving me money on gas! There, I found a silver lining in the dark cloud. 

During my daily walk to ensure sanity, I spied a clump of maple tree seeds, properly known as samaras, hanging on a tree bearing the red color of springtime. With the blue sky behind them, I just had to try and get an image. 

But returning to the dark cloud, it is a bit darker this morning. 

There is a disturbing report in the Washington Post that suggests we will need to live with social distancing for 18 months. 

Coronavirus will radically alter the U.S. - The Washington Post

It comes complete with the following graphic:
Models from researchers at Imperial College London suggest that wide adoption of measures to reduce the transmission of the novel coronavirus can reduce the demand for critical health-care services, in part by spreading the demand over a longer period. The major challenge is that those measures will need to be maintained until a vaccine becomes available, or transmission will quickly rebound. (Tim Meko)

So the good news is that we can positively affect the course of the virus and rescue the deaths. The sobering news is that our new lifestyle may well continue into 2021 unless or until a vaccine is developed and widely distributed. 

I hope you have a great day. The day is dawning here with bright blue skies and sunshine! I hope that you are experiencing the same.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Creating a New Normal

From This--The Pool
Elkridge, MD
March 31, 2020
 One of the hardest things to do during the lockdown is to find a new normal. 

What is the new normal? Everyone has a different idea about it. But everyone also needs to determine what is going to be normal for themselves. Life has changed.

A new normal example might be waking and reading for a while, then getting breakfast, taking care of the morning hygiene, going for a walk, then accomplishing at least one project before lunch. After lunch, I am finding that having one more project to accomplish and then finding some time to relax before sliding into happy hour is effective.  And then begins the evening.

We were lucky, yesterday, that we had the replastering of the pool to break the new normal.

To This - The Pool
Elkridge, MD
April 1, 2020
Chris and I were spectators as a crew replastered our pool. It was quite a thing to watch during the day and I hate to say it, but it dod break the new normal monotony. When the replastering was complete, the pool was transformed from an ugly hole in the ground that I ashamed of into a beautiful new structure designed to ensure enjoyment of the summer and the weather that is ahead. 

Now the real work begins and it will help with the new normal as the pool needs regular, multiple times per day brushing for the next four weeks! Something to add into our coronavirus shelter in place. 

Find something to do, like a multi-day project, to fill the days while confined to our homes.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Deepening Lockdown

It's not a quarantine!  

Newly Mowed Lawn - First of the Season
Elkridge, MD
March 31, 2020
Quarantines are for sick or exposed people. For those of us who are not sick nor have been exposed, it is isolation!

Of course, the word isolation has been softened to "social distancing."

Snake in the Grass
Elkridge, MD
March 31, 2020
Chris and I complied yesterday with the stay at home order, only venturing out once during the early morning for essential food items. That written, we did have a number of workers over to work the pool project late during the day but we maintained our distance.  Today, hopefully the plaster will be applied and the real fun can begin. 

As I was reinstalling the pool pump, I discovered a snake out sunning itself--well, there wasn't any sun, but it is now the second time I have seen the snake in a week. 

And the news still gets bad. The New York Times is sponsoring a free section to provide news about the outbreak.

The Coronavirus Outbreak - The New York Times

Despite the bad news, don't lose heart. Remember that it is April Fool's Day! No, the bad news is not a cruel joke, it is real. 

From everything I am reading and seeing, closely following the guidelines for social distancing and personal hygiene is successful in keeping us safe.

Stay safe:

Do not congregate with strangers! 

Don't go into crowded stores or places where people are not practicing good social distancing. 

Wash your hands! 

Don't forget to wipe down your car in addition to the common surfaces in your house. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Finding Beauty in a Coronavirus World

Flowering Crabapple Against the Blue Sky
Elkridge, MD
March 30, 2020
Despite the beautiful day, with a crystal blue sky, the coronavirus threat lingered everywhere yesterday. During the day, the Maryland Governor issued new orders regarding businesses and a stay at home order which is a misdemeanor if violated. The order went into effect at 8PM last evening. 

Residents of D.C., Maryland and Virginia are ordered to stay at home - The Washington Post

Crabapple Tree in Full Bloom
Elkridge, MD
March 30, 2020
Chris and I are very respectful of the coronavirus and we made two attempts to go to Lowes for home project items and one attempt to go to the grocery store. We decided that the stores were too crowded to venture into and went home. We did actually enter Lowes on the second attempt only to see an incredibly long checkout line where people were not practicing social distancing and turned around and departed. Hopefully we can get what we needed on line. 

I was amazed, as I made an emergency trip to the grocery store as it opened this morning for the things we could not get last evening, at the traffic on I-95. I had expected the road to be mostly empty, but it was not. Apparently, the governor's stay at home order is not having the desired effect. 

In other news, the pool sat yesterday waiting for the next part of the process. But, Chris and I went for a walk with Finnegan, something which is still allowed under the stay at home order, and found that the flowering crabapple trees are in beautiful full bloom. Against the sky, they were stunning! It brought joy to our hearts during a time of such serious anxiousness. 

My advice--don't spend all day watching the news. It is too depressing. Watch enough of the news to know what is happening and then find else something to do!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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