From Martha Stoops Alexander: “This is not particularly exciting, but during this pandemic I am cleaning out our cellar!! Long overdue. :-)”
“Until a week ago, I was still working part time as a staff RN in long term care. But my husband is 86, with several medical issues…so I made the difficult decision to temporarily stop working and isolate us both.”
“We are enjoying more time together, but of course miss hugging our grandchildren!! We are able to have the local ones over on sunny warm days, as long as we stay outdoors. Bob and I set up fun projects for them, like the “old chair painting” you see in the attached photo. We set up snacks on the picnic table and a “porta potty ” of sorts in the garage. They can stay several hours. It works, we laugh a lot, their parents get a break, and the artistic results are delightful.”
See Martha’s photo of grandkids painting chairs on driveway
Julie Arnold writes: “It’s been a few months of ups and downs for me. I retired in December 2019. My son, Benjamin Ricciardi, got his PhD in Jewish Religious studies from Northwestern in June 2019. Due to unforeseen circumstances, he is now living with me which has been a blessing during the coronavirus lockdown. My father passed away in April 2020, necessitating a delayed memorial service.”
“My oldest dog died in March 2020 so I’m down to 2. Since our competitions have been cancelled, I am teaching the youngest dog to track!”
Elaine Brighty wrote this: “So far everyone in my extended family is well. My husband and I downsized houses late last fall by moving across town (Amherst MA). The timing was lucky. In late 2019, we still could easily donate lots of furniture and useful things, and we had repairs and some improvements made. By January, we were settling happily into more relaxed lives (especially for my newly retired husband) just as I began hearing about the novel corona virus in Wuhan, China. My three sisters may have thought I was alarmist, but as a biologist, I mentally prepared for a pandemic, even though our government didn’t.”
“As happy, never bored Introverts, David and I are comfortable staying at home. Reading, TV, a few projects, the internet, and newspapers fill our days. Our older son lives with us, but his autism desperately wants life to go back to the way it was…NOW. We all feel the same way, but he feels it more visibly. “
“Constant low level of anxiety and worries about things over which I have no control, means I get more stressed than usual by regular problems: blocked sewer line, cable outage, house renovation projects still needed, any health changes in family or friends, the news, etc. I plan to stay home until there is a vaccine.”
From Elaine Bromka: “News at this end is the continuing adventures of my daughter Julia Phillips.”
“PBS NewsHour recently interviewed daughter Julia Phillips about “Disappearing Earth”, her mystery novel set in the far eastern reaches of Russia. The book is now out in paperback.”
“After half a year’s worth of bookings for my solo show “TEA FOR THREE: Lady Bird, Pat & Betty” canceled in a single March afternoon, I turned with itching fingers to my perennial garden. Been working on it for 25 years. Started taking up clumps to thin and put the word out to people —600 clumps flew out the door in a month. It hasn’t made a dent!”
“Smith connections triumph again! Two summers ago, Mary Burton invited Manli Ho to join her for a tour of Frances Perkins’ family home in Maine, lead by Sarah Peskin, Smith ’71. Seeing her Lamont housemate on Mary’s guest list, Sarah reached out to Manli — and at an upcoming Frances Perkins Policy Forum on “Unsung Heroes of Refugee Policy”, Manli will be a featured speaker, relating the stories she has unearthed about her late father, Feng Shan Ho, who as Chinese consul to Austria during WWII saved thousands of lives by issuing visas to Shanghai, risking his own life and career. (Sadly, that event was cancelled due to COVID, Class Sec.) Watch our web site and House Connector e-mails for details!”
Mary reports that House Connectors are doing all sorts of great things. Pat Younger Smith jumped on the “new communications reality” and held a ZOOM gathering for Tenney House; Louise Parent did the same for eight Martha Wilson ’72’s, and got a rave review from Emily Haerther Ulrich, her former roommate!
So far no COVID 19 has been found in Mary’s Kendal community at Hanover — for which she is very grateful, having four friends here over 100! Not to mention that another quarter of friends in their nineties — although Mary says these women give age a whole new meaning. Politically active, physically fit, fun, and interesting — naturally many are Smithies!
On May 11, 2020, Martha Wilson House ’72’s are having their first all-house ZOOM hour, having tested the possibility with a smaller group. Fully 23 of the 26 ’72’s signed up! Many thanks to Lisa Barlow and Susan Hastings Glendon for setting it up and establishing the ground rules, and to Louise Parent for getting the ball rolling.
Over sixty classmates are working on our 50th Reunion; collecting photographs of those who missed their yearbook appointments or transferred is the current big task. Yes, we’re going to have a section, “With Us A While” for those women with whom we started our Smith adventure.
Ellen Maloff Case and Camille Matthews, Co-Editors of our 50th Reunion Book, are eager to hear from anyone who knew Brigitte Sixt or Anne Hilliard in high school or at Smith. Send email to Class Sec. Stefanie Cargill and she will pass on the information.
Elizabeth Butler is inspired to dive deep into “what I optimistically call “my office” while my husband calls it “that room” (when he’s being tactful).”
“The raw inequalities in our country have been highlighted by this pandemic – further motivation to engage in social justice efforts (voting rights). Personally, The hardest part is the change in interactions with our grandchildren, ages 3 – 18.”
Marilyn Gepp Clark and husband David live in London and Luxembourg.
“We’ve been in London since Covid-19 restrictions were imposed (much too late) on March 23rd. It’s not been difficult for various reasons, and we’ve used the time to sort out many papers and much else. A general clearing-out was very necessary as we’ve been in the house for 32 years. And it’s not over yet!”
One very positive result of the lockdown has been renewed regular contact among six ‘72ers:
Kay Killian Balun, Nancy Abraham Hall, Bessy Kong Wasielewski, Debbie Lazarus, Evelyn Maurmeyer, and myself. We were due to spend time in Nantucket together in June to celebrate the year of our 70th birthday (69th birthday in Ev’s case); when that became impossible, we met via Zoom. We continue to Zoom every 2 weeks. Wonderful. Looking forward to Reunion 2022 in Northampton.
Katherine Wies Dietz and husband Dave returned early from their annual winter stay in Florida and have been in NH since 3/27/20. Their younger son, Carl, and his husband were there as well. “We’ve enjoying seeing more of them than we have in 19 years. A life-long seamstress, I’ve made and distributed 50 masks. Scanning many hundreds of old photos in preparation for making some new albums. Doing lots of cooking, including making bread. When my children were young and I was usually at home, I made all our own bread – in recent years, only at Christmas. Lots of cleaning out and organizing. Walking 3-5 miles every day, enjoying finding new (to us) conservation areas to visit with my husband. He’s spending lots of time in his wood shop, repairing old and making new furniture. And lots of time on FaceTime and Zoom, reading to grandchildren (6, ages 12 months to 8 years), a musical recital with my siblings, a talent show with the kids, bridge with friends. So far the days are still too short. Feel enormously lucky to be in a place that’s as “safe” as can be (we think our son had Covid, contracted not in NYC where he lives, but in NH) with sufficient resources for a comfortable life. Frustrating not to be able to do much to help those in less fortunate situations other than donating money.”
Catherine Eaton writes: “We feel lucky to live in rural New Hampshire because it is easy to walk in beautiful areas with very few people. Often I take photographs and edit them, using apps that involve drawing or painting on an iPad.”
“Mostly I am writing. I finished an extensive family history on the Eaton side of our family called The Eaton Family: New England Colonists, Nova Scotia Pioneers:1590 to 2020. Within the week I should finish family history of my mom’s family. It is called Greet Your Family, Meet Your Ancestors: Stephens, Settles, Sawyers, Lear, Trapp, and McDowell Families. I have worked on them both for the last eighteen months, doing online research and trying to put their lives in the context of where and when they lived. They will both be available on Amazon. I am grateful to have learned so much about my extended family and ancestors.”
“To keep myself fit and sane, I love playing Pickle Ball, which I have put on hold during this pandemic.”
“I am grateful the air is cleaner now and hope we will learn to take better care of the planet and all the people. I also have been volunteering with Thinkers Lodge and the Centre for Local Prosperity in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, working to create retreats for Thinkers who are working to find solutions to the climate crisis.”
Husband Carl and Diane St. Cyr Francis are sheltering in with a few Zoom meetings with family and friends. “We decided last summer to hire a contractor to finish our basement and we also sacrificed a bedroom to create a walk-in closet, a small office and a full bath. The construction was finally complete in late spring. We are using this enforced vacation time to get our home in order. We certainly accumulated a lot of stuff in nearly 50 years of marriage!”
“My piano lessons are on hold until public schools open again. I had 15 students before the pandemic, but who knows who will be able or want to continue. The museum in Bethel, ME, where my husband is a consultant and a curator, is currently closed.”
Susan Hastings Glendon has been sheltering in place in Fairfield, CT since March 12th, when the school (Pace University, NYC) where she was a part time Career Counselor and an Adjunct, went virtual. She “meets” with her students through ZOOM. Pace is desperately trying to reopen the school for the fall semester. If it does and Susan cannot teach virtually, she will not return. Her children, who are in California and Colorado, read her the riot act about staying home, social distancing, getting food delivery service and using Amazon a lot. All of which she does. While all of this is clearly not ideal and certainly scary, she is grateful for what she has, (even if it means watching her grandchildren grow up through ZOOM!)
Ellen Glew put her house of 36 years in N Reading MA on the market at the end of Feb. Managed to sell it in a couple of weeks, under the specter of the exploding pandemic and just prior to the state lockdown.
She cleaned out years of clutter, even with the lockdown (curbside donations were her friend) and packed herself (packing services limited) with the help of her kids. Heading to Harpswell, Maine, which will put her closer to her younger daughter in Portland. Looking forward to semi-retirement and slowing down on the coast of Maine.
Sarah H. Gordon wrote: “We have had excellent leadership here in Connecticut and I tended to stay oriented to the virus by listening to our leaders daily or each week through my computer or telephone. From the mayor we had updates online, and on the phone about his news and recommendations. The governor also gave updates almost daily, plus Senators and Representatives having teleconferences to keep people up to date on how to get their government checks, their unemployment insurance, help with bills, mortgages and so on. Banks, utilities and others have announced moratoriums and discounts on payments. Locally we have an app here called Nextdoor Whitneyville on which we exchange information and opinions about what it is safe to do. I “attended” two Unitarian services on Zoom. The e-world of the computer did us proud here. “
“I made my own mask out of an old worn handkerchief handed I do not know how many generations, and in my sewing basket I found some apron strings I cut off an apron and kept, plus some bathrobe strings, that do quite well for tying my mask, but I can’t claim my mask is as pretty or fancy as some of the others. People here have been making masks for free and taking orders from neighbors online.”
“I finally got someone to cut my grass just this past week, but my hair won’t be attended to for a while, and I have to find something to hold it off my face.”
“Otherwise, being retired meant I could pay my bills and stay indoors without anything like the difficulties of others. I do know that hunger is more of a problem here than usual. I donated to the Food Bank and also to the Navajos in the Southwest, who have been combatting COVID-19 without even having running water!!”
“There is one more thing that I see as a good idea. On Nextdoor Whitneyville someone created an e-map showing where the older people are who need help, and the younger people who have volunteered to do errands or take them somewhere. Very worthwhile.”
Even after sheltering in place for two months, Virginia Moorman Gotlieb somehow has not gotten to that list of tasks for “when I get a chance”. Her youngest daughter presented her dissertation defense and received her PhD in educational neuro psychology in a Zoom powered ceremony.
Susan Griss listed some of her activities while “sheltering in place” in the mid-Hudson Valley in NY:
- uploading on YouTube her story-telling of children’s classics so children can “dance” to the stories
- delivering food with her husband once a week to families in Kingston, NY
- participating in two “car demonstrations” to release immigrants and the elderly from incarceration during COVID
- lots of walks with friends in the countryside while social distancing
- lots of cooking and eating
Hope all are staying safe, healthy, and positive,
From Carol Jones Guthrie: “The problem with this shutdown is that though I have had essentially unlimited time and no expectations of me, somehow all of the things I vowed to do if I ever had time remain mysteriously undone. The pandemic has exposed me for the lazy, internet addicted fraud that I am!! My closets are still full of things I can’t bear to part with/don’t know what to do with…base cabinets are full of photo albums and memories that can take entire afternoons to sift through (and still not get rid of). Could I digitize all of that? Sure! Have I? No!!”
“I have done a bit of watercolor, and have resurrected my encaustic painting setup, so that’s something. And I brought out my little Singer sewing machine!!”
(See photo of Carol Jones Guthrie in mask she sewed.)
“My long, long walks through Darien, CT have been fascinating (SO many houses being torn down for steroidal new ones!) And now that it’s May, my work level (landscape design) is ramping up, and given that it’s mostly outdoors, will occur essentially unrestricted.”
“I have vastly expanded my use of FaceTime, which was once limited to my grandchildren. Now, it includes family NYT crossword time and dinners (three sons, two wives, three grandchildren whose locations span the country); wonderful long conversations (and house tours) with old friends; and even a surprising number of first (and sometimes subsequent) dates!! Who knew?? There are aspects of this I like…no anxiety about the inevitable pawing at the close of the evening!!”
“The loss of NYC as we know it is devastating. I was just about to finish a major apartment renovation when my building was closed to workers, and remains so. It will be a strange hollowed out city when it reopens, never again the jammed, vibrant, culturally rich place it was! I had a very exciting, varied series of events planned for the spring—a number of plays, art fairs, talks, park events…poof! Watching the streaming stuff isn’t the same (though I would like to put in a huge plug for the National Theatre filmed productions, which are a medium all their own).”
“On the whole, while it has been difficult (some days VERY difficult) not to have real people around, I really cannot complain. My house is bright and comfortable, I have endless diversions if I want them, plenty of food (and wine!), even paper towels and toilet paper (both acquired in the Before Times, FYI).”
“I guess the thing I hate most is the “social distancing”. In my gut, it feels somehow wrong, as if you are openly avoiding cooties. And I guess you are! But it feels so weird…”
And, damn, I need a haircut!
Claire Hamlisch reports: “Lockdown in France began 14 March. But we were “aware” and effectively housebound a couple of weeks earlier. We had been in Holland for a long weekend, at the end of February. I had a watch that needed a new battery which I can’t find in the French countryside. I tried a department store and was told to go to a watchmaker. He was located on the verge of Chinatown. I wondered if the Dutch Chinatown is like Wuhan (which we had already heard of back then).”
“On Mondays we walk with a group of French friends. The Monday we returned from Holland, my husband opted not to walk. The group are almost all in the over-seventy category, half of them male, several with pre-existing conditions. Two of them have since had the virus and survived. I went and they all made a great show of greeting each other “à la Thailandaise” – with hands joined in front of their chests. They then paired off “huddled” in unsocially distanced mode. I got some peculiar looks, when I tried to keep distances. In a society that thrives on kisses on both cheeks, the distance is pure torture.”
“Our dogs, needing walks twice a day, have been our saving grace. We were “free” to walk them, provided we completed an “attestation” each time with name, address, purpose of walk, time of departure. In true Napoleonic fashion, the French authorities issued a second version of the “attestation” that included place of birth. I am still wondering what being born in Washington, D.C. has to do with dog walking…”
Olivia Henry came to CA in late Feb for her annual “avoid snowy winter” vacations. She is recovering from two Aug surgeries, including fractured femur, wheelchair walker, etc. Took herself to Mazatlan, pre virus, for nearly a week, and was excited to be able to hike, kayak, snorkel again, and walk all over the historic district:
“Loved being by the sea and doing more hiking until beaches and trails were closed. Instead of going home to NH, and possibly infecting my spouse, who has medical issues, I moved in with my close cousin, whose mother recently died. I’ve stayed on helping her, clearing, organizing stuff, fixing the house. We listen to Andrew Cuomo, and streaming services from our CA church. We hike, swim when/where legal to do so. I am reading Stephen Ambrose’s book about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Undaunted Courage.”
“Life feels quieter, simpler. I reach out to more family, friends, feel supported in these isolated times. I am grateful for all who are putting themselves on the line to help us through this pandemic. I look forward to returning to my husband and son late this month.”
Margaret Huff reports: “Kate Mulhern Johnson and her husband Bruce visited us this winter and we had planned to see them this summer. My husband Ted Carey and I moved (about a half mile) to a new home last year. After living together in a cramped condo for more than 25 years, we decided to upsize. That turned out to be a fortunate decision, as we now have more home office space and a shaded patio. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that Nashville’s mayor will continue to focus on our city being a safe place to live and, ultimately, to visit in this age of COVID-19. We do miss seeing our family in person, but Zoom has been a wonderful way to connect. In May, I was elected President of the Tennessee Association of Professional Mediators and continue to do some law-related work. My “encore career” is taking shape, as a teacher of English as a Second Language. I stopped teaching at a Tyson meat processing plant in March and currently have online classes. Last but not least, 25 friends from Martha Wilson House had a terrific Zoom gathering in May!”
Ellen Kanner is widowed and lives in Manhattan. It is very tough to see the city she loves so still and hurting. The energy one usually feels, the beat, is not there right now. Except at 7PM when everyone claps, bangs pots and in her neighborhood, has music played from rooftops:
“I am working hard, though remotely, as a psychologist which gives my daily life meaning and direction. The weekends are the hardest. Usually I would be at the theatre, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the museums. All closed.”
“Hoping I get to sit on the beach. Not sure yet what is happening with them.”
“This is Jane Kocivar MD checking in from Maui. I am staying at home with the exception of a few visits to Makena Beach to swim with my daughter , Bailey , who is staying with us for the time being . I day trade for fun and $$$ now that I’m retired . I use the $$$ for creative shopping for exotic food products online . Then I cook and clean my counter fastidiously every night. I think the cleaning is therapeutic in more than one way . I used to walk up our hilly road to visit the baby spotted piglets. But they were sold for slaughter. Now I try to hide in bed and read. I pretend that I’m in a Zen monastery and that we have taken a vow of silence. That helps me endure the great silence that befalls the household from time to time when the Covid conversation becomes attenuated, and the rights and wrongs of social distancing degrade into power struggles regarding the genetic predetermination of the Ashkenazi for following rules. So much for interfaith marriages. So much for marriage in general during lockdown .”
Kitty Lansdale is knee deep in a kitchen rehab in her condo & deeply into Sheltering in Place – Day 59 – highly supervised in D.C.
(Photo of Kitty Lansdale with her niece.)
Here is Marguerite MacDonald’s news plus a pitch to friend our Smith College Class of ’72 page on FaceBook:
“Since I last reported, I have become a grandmother! Our younger son, Thomas and his wife Jocelyn (who live in Rockville, MD) have a boy named Donovan who was born 9/28/18. Donovan is a delight and I am so sad that I haven’t seen him in person since Thanksgiving 2019. BUT due to our son and his wife working from home we FaceTime with Donovan during quarantine two times a day (especially when our son is taking care of him!). We hope to be able to have a visit with them soon, when travel and germs seem safe. Our older son, David and his wife Miranda had a baby boy Myles born 1/14/20. They live in Jersey City, NJ but are quarantined with her parents in Saugerties, NY, an hour’s drive from our home in Clifton Park, NY. We hadn’t seen them since the end of February but we able to have a social distance visit on Mother’s Day outside in the cool sunny Spring day. I can’t wait until I can hug and hold them all. I have been catching up with several old friends as we have the time to do so.
I am so hoping they find a vaccine cure as I look forward to seeing everyone in person at our 50th! In the meantime don’t forget to friend our private group Facebook page (Smith College Class of ’72 ) and let us know how you are doing as well as checking out our information about Smith and our class.
Missy Marshall’s social distancing, while not great, has been leavened by gardening. She confides: “I am now officially obsessed. I even have “dandelion elbow“ to show for it, from trying to dig them all out with a gardening knife. I shall defeat them. I have entered into a competition with all the local botanical institutions including Phipps Conservatory and Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, and so far as I know, since I can’t go there, I am giving them a solid run for their money, all on less than a quarter of an acre. The front is the botanical collection, and it seems to be a real boon to all the walkers who go by every evening. One little girl on a pink bike stopped and thanked me! But lots of others (generally older) do as well. Out in the back is Hobbit Farm, named for my little stone house which from the street looks like a dwelling suited for only short people. I am harvesting greens and asparagus as well as tons of cut tulips. They were grown to take to other people and into the office. Well, that ain’t happening, so I look a bit like a funeral home with all the flowers inside here. I send virtual bouquets to everyone. There are still a few blooms on the lemon tree here in my sunroom/office/conservatory and the smell is great. When the sun shines, which is not very often here in Pittsburgh in the spring, all is as right with the world as it can be now.”
“It’s so very hard to send a newsy message”, writes Tiffany Baker Mullican, “when there’s absolutely no news! “My husband and I had actually planned a trip to Italy (our first real vacation in ten years) on March 6th… needless to say, we had to cancel it.”
“I’m working 4 to 8 hours a day on a counted cross stitch Christmas stocking for my youngest grandchild. I have now done a stocking for each of my four granddaughters over the years. I actually asked my youngest daughter to pick out a Christmas stocking kit for me to make for her, when I finish this one. (And she isn’t even married yet and has no children! ) I am desperate to keep busy in this isolated and boring time! I am gardening a lot and love planting my flowers and keeping my yard looking nice. You remember the reference to the old ‘freshman 15’? Well… I have packed on the ‘pandemic’ 20. I would like to rationalize by saying that I read somewhere that ingesting carbs prevents Covid 19, but that would definitely not pass any lie detector test!”
Lucy Bodine Nattrass writes from the UK:
“Our news during the British Covid-19 crisis is that our daughter, her husband and two young children, aged 1 and 3, escaped from their small urban flat on the south coast, five hours away, to join us in our old suburban house with a small yard on 18th March. The parents can both work from home so my husband and I have been busy with looking after the children. It has been a great pleasure getting into a toddler routine and getting to know them. We’ve been reading all the old favourites and acting out Goldilocks, Rumpelstiltskin, Three Billy Goats Gruff, Red Riding Hood, and now Toy Story. We’ve been planting seeds in pots and enjoying watching their progress, now starting to transplant them, investigating insects, going on short bike rides around the neighbourhood, cooking, taking our cupcakes to elderly neighbours, singing, drumming and dancing.”
“Of course we don’t know how much longer they will be here with us. It depends on when their nursery opens up. We hope they won’t be in a hurry to return to their flat. Everyone misses their friends, but at home they wouldn’t be able to see them either. In the meantime we are really enjoying the company. Any projects such as learning a new language, reading weighty classics or chucking out old paperwork have definitely not happened.”
Signe Nielsen is in the NYC epicenter of Covid-19: “Spending days managing my staff of 34, who are all working remotely and scattered around the east coast where they have sought shelter with parents to escape their cramped apartments. Endless video conferences with brief forays to “essential” construction projects and many late afternoons helping care for grandkids who live across the street. Teaching my 6-year old grandson chess and the twin girls ballet (of sorts!). Enjoying the 7 pm balcony and fire escape applause for health care workers-almost like a dinner bell, but actually a constant reminder that we live in challenging times right now. Hope everyone is well out there.”
From Maria Nipson: “After over a month of cancelled cultural events, cancelling “trip of a lifetime” travel plans (complete with absorbing considerable losses due to fluctuating currency rates), and no physical contact (not even a pet)…I was starting to fray. Things came to a head over a lilac bush, butchered in full bloom, by my neighbor’s new lawn care company. But….
What I finally posted on Facebook got more responses and reactions than anything I’ve posted…even from friends who never react to posts! Deborah Emerson Pinkham suggested it might be appropriate to the current shout-out. So here it is”:
“I was going to write about how the distancing and cancellations had finally broken me. I was going to talk about the arthritis in my knee that had rendered me virtually immobile. I was going to talk about how current and potential losses, on top of all of the already dark and desperate things going on in the world in the past few years can sweep over with a seemingly overwhelming grief. I was going to say how important it is to acknowledge that grief, to weep, to howl at the moon. I was going to say, you might think you’re fine, then some insignificant thing will send you into a tailspin. I was going to talk about how hard it must be for parents, that balance between shielding children from our own fears and acknowledging theirs. We all need to claim our feelings, arm ourselves with knowledge, control what we can, and let go of what we can’t.”
“I was going to talk about all that.”
“Then something happened.
Yesterday I thought I could take a chair outside and sit and pull weeds. So, I went out on my porch to check the weather, assess the damage, and figure out the logistics. I looked to see how tall the weeds had grown. I looked… and I looked… and I looked. They were gone. Someone buzzed away the weeds in my front lawn. I don’t know who, or when. I hope they know that I am exceedingly grateful.
So, yes, I was going to talk about how I was broken…and I was. But, the sun is back out. My leg is becoming more useful every day. An anonymous yard angel buzzed my weeds.
Life is good. It will get better.”
“Listen to the doctors and scientists. Stay home. Wash your hands. Practice physical distancing. Stay healthy. Vote. We’ll get through this. Together. Apart.”
Carol Pearson has been on Zoom calls every Saturday morning with her Geneva Jr Year abroad cohorts: Ellen Malloff Case, Pam Fuhrer Goodhue, Anne Gordon (quarantined in Johannesburg, SA), Carmen Valenzuela Nakassis, Nancy Schwartz. Carol had quarantined for 14 days in Rehoboth Beach DE after recently returning from Delray Beach, FL.) Also joining the group, from Freiburg Germany, is Kathy Marx Riechel, Tufts ’72. We were to leave for a week in Portugal on May 15th, now postponed to 2021.
Stephanie Peters normally travels (for work) at least 50% of the time, so being at home is quite different for her. “My mother passed last Halloween, so I do not have to worry about her in a nursing home. She was almost 98! I used to visit her in VA once a month. My garden is my hobby.” (Steph’s photos of her garden.)
During the pandemic, Patricia Pelehach is splitting her time between her art studio in Corsicana, TX, and her home in Dallas. She says making art is a source of never-ending challenges and occasional triumphs.
In the midst of Covid-19 outbreak, Ann Chipley Playe and husband Steve moved back (very carefully– bringing food, wiping down everything at gas stations and staying in a cabin (unoccupied since last fall) belonging to son’s in laws enroute) to their home in Florida after 8 years helping their daughter and her kids in Chicago. “Our apartment lease ran out, the landlord sold (just in time) so we went on the road home to Florida. Glad to have the benefit of nice weather while isolating but missing Zora, 18 months, and Max, 8 1/2 years. Thankfully the internet makes it possible for me to supervise Max’s daily piano practice and watch Zora run around creating havoc in Chicago. We also take turns reading to Max at bedtime. We had been homeschooling him and will attempt to continue some of that via FaceTime after his spring vacation ends. I am in charge of Social Studies (as a former Am Studs major, his study of the American Revolution is so in my wheelhouse), Spanish, French, Reading, Writing, Art, Music and Religion (not in my wheelhouse–Max attends a Catholic school). Steve manages the rest although our daughter Eden now has his former Recess and PE responsibilities. Loving being the Emerson House Connector for 50th Reunion and hoping to survive to attend that event!”
Robin Rainie-Lobacz writes: “My husband Kenzie sold his Dream Catcher Yachts business March 1 and we are isolating at home since March 12. So we have begun a whole new routine we thought would be retirement, but it’s more a pandemic routine. The bad news is we can’t travel as we had planned yet, but the good news outweighs that. We are remaining healthy, we are cooking such interesting recipes, he has begun a long awaited DIY renovation of a guest bath, we read and play more music, we walk together daily, we listen to Podcasts now, and we join webinars and conferences by Zoom that are very rewarding. Stopping to smell the flowers is wonderful for two people who always went a mile a minute!”
During the first week of quarantine, Michel Robertson:
“…cleaned out closets, started writing a book, and organized my office.
The second week of isolation, I made a “Quarantine To-Do List” which included vigorous exercise, a manicure and pedicure, trying new recipes, and rejuvenating my spring wardrobe.
Yesterday my husband and I walked the 1/4 mile to our mailbox in our pajamas (at 4 pm) and dined on leftover pizza.”
The last year and a half has been full of medical miracles for Paula Johnson Robinson: “cataract surgeries (except for reading I can ditch the glasses!), heart surgery (I’m alive…and can hike again!), and thumb surgery (I can paint again!). I am so grateful for access to good healthcare and decent insurance. Last week I turned 70. I don’t mind being 70; however, the idea of it is difficult to accept. During the shutdown, I’ve been walking, reading, and painting. Between e-books and on-line art instruction there is a lot to keep me mentally stimulated. I’m looking forward to a time when I can hug my granddaughters again and read the news without profound disbelief, disgust, and despair. My hope is for a better world to emerge from this, our wake up call!”
This is Linda Rumanoff Simonson. My husband, Steve, and I have been home together during this strange time. Our kids and 5 grandkids live close by but most of our contact is via FaceTime. When we do see them “in the flesh” it is very frustrating to remind little ones (and ourselves) to keep their distance and not to be able to touch, hug and hold (especially our 9 month old). Reading, yard work, baking bread and – yes, I admit it – TV are big parts of our days. My saving grace is having more time with my senior, blind dog, and with my horse, Montana. Down at the barn and on my horse, life feels almost normal!!
(See photograph of Linda on her horse Montana.)
Patricia Younger Smith writes:
We three are hunkered down at home in McLean, VA, sheltering in place due to Coronavirus. Our 31-year-old son, Andy, is living with us, which is a blessing in these constrained times. We’re enjoying cooking and baking – when we can find white flour! – and Zoom has become a favorite tool to stay in touch with church worship and staff and book club. And I’ve resumed knitting while watching TV in the evening so I won’t snack and gain 20 pounds! That baby blanket I’ve been working on for 5-1/2 years may get finished yet!
Of course, there are disappointments, such as cancellation of David’s and my May trip to the Basque country and Portugal. Fortunately, we had trip insurance since the Portuguese airline TAP only offered vouchers for our canceled trans-Atlantic round-trip fares. Reconnecting with fellow Tenney House class friends has also brightened the home imprisonment. Reunions in 2022 will be all the more special after this forced estrangement period.
Joanie Speers writes from London: “It has been fairly strict over the last two months, but yesterday the prime minister muddied the waters completely, so we really don’t know what is going on! In the meantime, my husband and I go on long walks early every morning, but otherwise to do not go out. We walk about 6 miles a day, so have done well over 200 miles so far. Our food is delivered and we have lovely neighbours who help if we run out of essentials. We haven’t seen any of our children (three – but one in Sydney) or grandchildren (six – but two in Sydney) since mid-March. I was scheduled to go to Sydney at that very time, but of course the flight was cancelled. My sister (Smith 1970), was to come over in April to join us on a cruise to Norway, but that was cancelled…
I send postcards every day to my grandchildren (each family is sticking them up on walls, which look great!), make calls to home carers for the charity Carers UK, help others over the phone write their care plans for another charity, try to keep up with learning Welsh via Zoom (which is basically impossible – the Welsh, not the Zoom), and contribute weekly mini sessions to one of my daughter’s ‘home school’ aka Maple Academy. We have done one on viola and cello duets, and one on Welsh and this week I am doing one on Art (wish me luck).
We have been also doing lots of reading and watch something on Netflix must evenings.
I am now getting a bit grumpy which doesn’t help, but I think is inevitable.
I hope by the time the Quarterly is published things will have improved for everyone around the world.”
Harlee Strauss retired a few years ago and was able to indulge her love of travel and learning by joining the Spring 2020 voyage of Semester at Sea for what was to be a 105 day journey ending in Amsterdam.. She was one of 24 lifelong learners (mostly retired folks) on s ship with about 550 undergraduates and 100 faculty and program staff. They left San Diego on Jan 4, heading to Kobe, Japan, with a stop for fuel in Honolulu. They managed to dodge the virus by skipping their port call in Shanghai and spending extra time in Vietnam. The epidemic continued to grow, and they tried to outrun it by heading to Africa and altered ports of call in the Indian Ocean. They were denied landing in The Seychelles less than a day before their planned arrival but were allowed to dock in Mauritius a few days later. The ride was over when they docked in Cape Town, South Africa, on March 14. Harlee flew home to NH via an eerily empty JFK airport, landing on March 19. She wasn’t prepared for the changes as she had been in a close, friendly, and even loving corona-free environment on the ship. She is now trying to figure out when she can sail again
Cheryl Suchors finds: “…as the pandemic continues, some days I’m up; some days I’m down. It’s hard to thread the needle of feeling productive without wringing oneself out, of staying informed without becoming despondent, of paying attention to washing hands, surfaces and new food without becoming obsessive; and thinking of my daughter in another state without worrying who will take care of her should she get sick.”
“What I find most enjoyable: zooming with friends from different corners, present and past, of my life; walking outdoors with my working-from-home husband; exercising via zoom; yoga classes via zoom; writing political postcards to swing state voters; and eating way too many sweets and junk food.”
“Can’t say I’m enjoying what feels like the 1950s housewife role—so much time spent acquiring and preparing food, cleaning the house, and doing laundry (along with all those masks!) Larry is a great partner in these chores, but they do seem endless and, mostly, unrewarding. Not to mention that we can’t plan ahead. Having to cancel five trips I’d been looking forward to has chastened and made me plan-phobic, at least for now. Still, I’m grateful that my family, friends and I are all still well and able to continue to work from home. I hope you all are safe and healthy and look forward to our (pandemic-free) 50th reunion!
Virginia Cook Thiebaud’s ‘Adventures in Stay Safe-Stay Home, 2020’.
“My husband and I are enjoying the slower pace of life. We have been home since 2 March with only two trips to the grocery store, which is 27 miles away. This spring we took extra effort to plan what we planted in our vegetable garden to reduce trips to the grocery store. To our good fortune, the library was in the process of closing for remodeling and had asked patrons to take away books for the duration. We gleefully brought home three grocery bags full and are enjoying them. We also take advantage of the e-books available from the public library. Social contact has been easy to maintain with family and friends who have internet access. I write letters and cards to maintain contact with internet-free friends.”
“We are taking advantage of this time at home to do a few projects from our “do-it-someday” list, like power washing patios and sorting/discarding shoeboxes full of old photos. One task that I had been avoiding was running the cleaning cycles on our twenty-year-old wall ovens. When we moved into this house four years ago it looked like the ovens had seldom if ever been cleaned. After confirming that our fire insurance and health insurance were up to date, I found and followed the cleaning instructions from the internet. Might clean them again next year, maybe. Now if I could find a good supply of whole wheat bread flour, life would be fine.”
Cynthia Perlman Tinsley is busy gardening: “My big push, in support of the Alan Day Community Garden I helped found 11 years ago, is to grow as many organic seedlings as I can fit in my front porch. These will be for sale or for planting to help people have the food they need now and in the future. The ability to grow your own food seems to be one of those rights that we need to instill in our youth. The kids love growing their own lettuce, strawberries and almost anything else they produce. Our gardens are ready and extra fertilized by the late May snow!!”
Sec. Stefanie Solnick Cargill, 1224 E. La Jolla Drive, Tempe, Arizona 85282, firstname.lastname@example.org