Thursday, July 29, 2021

Covid survival kit: imagination, hobbies, passions, patience, friendships


Biking the neighborhood was a daily diversion for Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers.
Here their aging Yorkshire terrier, Nick, poses with them.  (He walked daily, but didn't ride!)

Scrabble continues to be a regular feature for weary,
Covid cautious Cookie and Keller who are well past
100 games. The ritual began early in the pandemic.



HOPING FOR an end to the purgatory of the pandemic, we hauled out board games, played piano and sang, visited friends for the occasional distanced and masked party,  and awaited a vaccine.
Friend Yosh and Keller towel off after a dip
in the Dead Sea, a happy memory that helped
us survive the long seige of the pandemic. 
We thought it would be weeks, then months, then we passed the one-year mark.
Now after nearly 18 months, we are cautiously traveling again, grateful to be fully vaccinated. If this period has taught us anything, it's that life is short and precarious. Be grateful for small things.
We know we're not out of the woods yet, so we play Scrabble, take photos, ride bikes, plant flowers and admire the aquarium our friend Phyllis developed.
Shopping by telephone and computer
avoided stores, cheered up Cookie.
We're in contact via email, and FaceBook, with friends all over the world. It's fun to trade photos of trips in safer, happier times, such as our tour of Israel with our friends and guides Yosh and Shula.  (The boys took a dip in the Dead Sea, the girls shopped for sea salt and souvenirs.)
ENGLISH FRIENDS Sue and John and their son Johnny contracted Covid despite their vaccinations. Our Israeli pals are dealing with multiple health issues. Both couples' travel plans have been curtailed, disrupted, delayed. Even though their travails are distressing, the contact is crucial to keeping us all relatively sane and connected. 
Garage parties for happy hour were a regular
pep-up for Keller and Cookie, sometimes in
theirs, and other times in friends' garages. 
Crafts and hobbies have become hugely important as we stave off boredom and anxiety.
One older Oregon friend documented her life, publishing a book just shy of her 94th birthday.
A friend in Montana hauled out his late wife's sewing machine and taught himself to create simple clothes for a homeless shelter.
We cope with Covid in the kitchen, preparing great meals together. Super Scrabble is a ritual with more than 100 close games which usually exceed 700 points.
Venturing out with caution was one of Keller's regular feats.
Here, he checks out of Home Depot for a repair project
 IN ONE game, I drew the dreaded "Q" at the end of the game. Keller used all his letters forcing me to deduct my Q 10 and add 10 to his score. He eked out a 4-point victory....731 to 727. Each game takes three 90-minute sessions during which we reminisce about past trips, share our love of exploring other cultures, seeing new places, tasting new cuisine, hearing new music, trying new mountain trails, beaches, parks.
WE STILL SHOP on line, eagerly awaiting the knock at the door and greeting the masked delivery person with gusto.
Keller made this print of his intriguing photo
of the Yaquina Lighthouse in Newport, Oregon.

It was fun to look at the variety via technology. Even though are occasional substitutions, it beats venturing out into the world with things so tenuous.
We occasionally re-enter the world of shopping in stores, with Keller doing repair projects around the house, picking up supplies at Home Depot.
His photography hobby continues to be a godsend, as he selects favorite images and makes prints to share and sell. One, of the Yaquina Lighthouse in Newport, Oregon, is a favorite of mine for its dizzying view of the circular stairway to the top. 
SHARING hobbies and talents is a lifeline.  My piano and writing, Keller's woodworking and photography, Shula's wonderful  paintings, the vocal gifts of singer Barbie in New Zealand, gardening and horse riding for the Yorkshire farmers......
Hearing how these cherished friends survive the challenges of the pandemic makes us appreciate them even more -- and be grateful for life.
 THESE INTERESTING people we've met on our trips have become lifelong pals. Because travel brought us together, it remains a binding thread. Imagination, creativity and patience help, too. Hearing how they're coping helps us keep our own chins up.

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett plan a reunion concert
billed as "One Last Time." We'll be there and will report
on the performance of these two talented friends.

UP NEXT: Tony turns 95! The legendary jazz singer Tony Bennett will be 95 years old on Aug. 3, and he is celebrating with a concert. He'll sing a 90-minute set with his friend and "Cheek to Cheek" collaborator, Lady Gaga. Their two-night sold-out gig at Radio City Music Hall (Aug. 3 and Aug. 5) will wrap the 75-year career of the incredible Bennett, who has performed the last five years despite his battle with Alzheimer's. We'll be in the audience, breaking the bank for this once-in-a-lifetime farewell concert. Break a leg, Tony and Gaga. We love and admire  you both and can't wait for this bittersweet celebration of a lifetime of music. 


  1. Such practical and spirited advice. We are glad you have survived so nicely and with such spirit.

  2. Novel approach to a lousy period. Bravo!

  3. Excited for you to be back in stride. Enjoy Tony and Gaga. Jealous in Tampa!