social-distancing

My nephew, Sean Mortensen is an all around athlete, which is quite possibly where his daughter, Jadyn gets her athleticism…there and from her mom, my niece, Amanda Reed. The whole family loves to get out and “live life to the fullest.” Normally that is pretty easy to do, but in an era of social distancing, we have all found ourselves cooped up for a lot of the spring. For that reason, Sean and company were very happy when he state opened up to camping, even if it was with social distancing. They figured you could get a bunch of friends together with their boats, and do some social distancing at the lake, so that was what they did. There is always something going on at Seminole Lake, and Sean’s family is there for a lot of it. I can’t confirm, but they might be part fish…at least in the summertime. Sean loves to fish and it is often a competition to see who can catch the most or the best fish…especially with a bow, and he seems to be pretty good at it.

Sean is also a hard working man. He works at the Sinclair Refinery and is a great support for his girls. He is a great partner to Amanda, and a great dad to Jadyn. He also keeps all of their vehicles and toys in tip top shape. They house they bought is very nice, and they are always making improvements and doing upkeep. Sean wants his family to have a very nice place to live. They are building a sweet little life. Hard work aside, Sean and his girls are very social people. They like to laugh and have fun with their friends. They are always the life of any party, and the fun in any outing. When they are there…well, let the party begin.

This year has been very strange…for most people. For Sean and his family, social distancing is like playing a game of “who can be the quietest.” You know, the game where you are not supposed to talk, even though you have so much to say…often the reason your parents wanted you to play it. Well in this version, they are supposed to stay away from the friends that they have amazing times with, and…well, lets put it this way. They are really looking forward to a time when social distancing is a thing of the past, and they can get back to the party. Today is Sean’s birthday. Happy birthday Sean!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

It’s a strange thing to have something you have expected to last for a certain period of time, come to an abrupt end. You find yourself hanging in limbo, and it can become depressing, or I suppose it could become exhilarating, if it was something you didn’t really like anyway. Such has been the case with the 2020 school year, and the Covid-19 Pandemic that changed everything. Yes, the students are still in class, at least virtual class, but it really isn’t the same. I understand about homeschooling, but for parents who did not expect to make that commitment, it can be a daunting task. There is more to it than just the classwork too. Kids need structure, and having summer begin at Spring Break threw everyone into a tailspin. At first it just seemed like a really long Spring Break, then when the virtual classes started, they really started to miss the time spent with their friends and their teachers…even the tough ones. It seems that being in class with a teacher who makes you work for your grade, is preferable to being at home with your parents acting as your teacher, and you are in detention, even if you did nothing wrong.

At first, when it was just the extended Spring Break, and people were staying at home, no one really noticed that he kids were out of school. Then, as the weather got warmer, people got out on the trails and on the playgrounds, still “social distancing,” but getting a little bit of fresh air and removing themselves from the “cabin fever” that was quickly threatening their sanity. Suddenly, we became very aware that these kids should be in school. While the weather was warmer, it wasn’t summer yet. The school year of 2020 had only officially run for seven of the nine months it was supposed to. In fact, truth be told, school should still be in session…even now. And yet, while summer vacation is not here yet, the schools are closed. The 2020 school year hasn’t officially ended, and it isn’t officially in progress either. Parents are worried about the education their kids got this last quarter. Virtual classes were shorter that normal, and so the kids spent far less time in virtual class too. Nothing about the last quarter of school was normal. The kids didn’t always get to class, but did the homework, thinking it was enough, and for some of them, maybe it was, but what of the rest of them…the ones who needed that class time. Were they left hanging…time will tell, I guess.

The next school year is still up in the air too. There are schools who have said that they will open, and others who will continue the virtual program. That has parents up in arms too, because they are preparing to go back to work, and they will need someone to be home with their children while they work. A virtual teacher doesn’t really replace the safety of being in the classroom with a teacher in charge. All the “experts” have said that life is going to take on a “new normal,” and they may be right, but I think that if school doesn’t start back up next school year, there will be a lot of parents who might need to start taking Prozac or something similar. Most parents find themselves impatiently awaiting the end of summer so the kids can go back to school, but this year was like the summer that never ended. The kids are just as bored, and there was no place to send them. The pools aren’t going to open, the rec centers either, and there is only so much a kid can do at the school playground. The walking paths are frequented by kids on bicycles and longboards, and even kids walking their dogs, but the reality is, these kids need to go back to school. They are designed to be social beings, not socially distanced.

My grand nephew, Zack Spethman, like all kids these days has been staying home, sheltering in place, and attending homeschool. Zack is a very social person, often making the rounds of people in the room and hugging many of them. It is just Zack’s way. He is a very loving and kind person. Now…in these trying times of social distancing, he isn’t supposed to hug people anymore…seriously!! That is something that makes me sad, because hugging is one of the things that defines who Zack is. I know that somewhere, down the road, things will get back to normal in the world, but even then, we are being discouraged from touching each other. That is especially sad, because when babies are little, we know that the lack of touch can actually cause them to stop growing. People need contact, and I don’t want to see that end. For those of us who are huggers, this is a really hard thing to do.

Zack is a very upbeat kind of guy. He has such a calm way of walking through this world…a kind of peace about things. Nothing ever seems to get him riled up. I suppose his parents might tell me different, because they are around him much more than I am, but the Zack I see is very much at peace with life…and what a great way to be. For me, and most others who know Zack, it is a phenomenal way to be, because he gives us a feeling that everything is going to be ok too.

Zack is the second child of my niece, Jenny Spethman and her husband, Steve. He and his 3 rowdy siblings, keep their parents hopping with all their activities. His peaceful personality, does have it’s “warrior” side too, for lack of a better word. The warrior in him mostly comes out on the football field, the basketball court, and any other sport he likes and is playing. I also suspect that his “warrior” side would come out if someone was hurting his family, or even his friends. He is the kind of guy who doesn’t tolerate bullying of anyone.

Zack’s family has been having some very special times, just being together, even if that means they can’t spend time with extended family members, and that is hard on everyone. Social distancing doesn’t mean they can’t go to the mountains, the lake, or parks…at least not here in Wyoming, so they have been getting out in the fresh air too, and that has kept the cabin fever at bay. For Zack and his siblings, like so many other kids, this school year has been one for the record books, but they will survive and even thrive, as this pandemic passes, and life reopens. Today is Zack’s 15th birthday. Up next…learning to drive. How can that be? Happy birthday Zack!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Our world has changed so much over the past few weeks that it is almost unrecognizable to us…not the landscape itself, but rather our view of it, and everything in it. Most of us figured it would be an election, or a recession that would change things for us, but we could never have expected the change a global pandemic could produce. We’ve learned new words, like social distancing; and words we knew that didn’t seem so daunting before, like essential worker and mandatory shelter-in-place orders, suddenly bring an unwanted wave of emotions. Businesses are closed, as are schools, and suddenly we find ourselves spending an inordinate amount of time at home. The kids might like their new free time, but most adults just want things to be back to normal…and very soon!!

My husband. Bob and I are both retired, and we are used to spending quite a bit of time together, but lately I have noticed that we might be going a little bit stir crazy. It isn’t that we don’t want to be together, but rather that we are feeling cooped up. As yesterday morning progressed, we seemed to be picking at each other more and more. It was then that it hit me. We had to get out of the house for a while. Still, while Wyoming is not under a mandatory shelter-in-place order, we are supposed to be practicing social distancing. I thought about it, and decided that I had a way to get out and obey the social distancing guidelines, because they slow the spread of the disease.

So we jumped in the pickup, and took a drive to Alcova Lake southwest of Casper. We were still social distancing, because we were in the pickup, but part way to the lake, we both breathed a sigh of relief. Suddenly we felt free from all of the stresses of COVID-19 and the locked down feeling it brought with it. The world around us seemed normal. A drive through the countryside showed us that the Earth really took no notice of the “Viral War” raging around it. Earth’s beauty, though currently still mostly hidden under Winter’s brown and white coat, was just beginning to show the green blades of Spring grass peeking out toward the sun. We stopped at a picnic area at Fremont Canyon bridge and got out to have a look. There was no one there, but us. The wind was calm, and the place was so peaceful. We walked to the viewing site, and looked at the rocks below, the white high water lines visible in Winter’s low water season. The sun sparkled on the water of the river. We stood and looked at the peaceful sight, feeling renewed…feeling one with each other again. Then, all too soon, we got back in the pickup for the drive home, and the workout we had delayed, because while exercise is very important, this was important too. We needed this, and we will do it again. We hope that no mandatory shelter-in-place order comes, because a drive would not be possible then, but we are very thankful to have had this drive, and the renewal it brought to us.

Saint Patrick’s Day is usually synonymous with celebrations, parades, green beer at the local pub, and of course the “Wearin’ O The Green,” but this year might be very different. Of course, we all know why that is. The current Coronavirus has found most people taking extraordinary measures to avoid being around large groups of people, in an effort to stop the spread of the virus, which can have serious symptoms in some patients and rather mild symptoms in others. I think people are trying to do what it takes to be safe.

One of the biggest cancellations is the many Saint Patrick’s Day Parades. Most places don’t want more than 50 people…or 25 people…and even 10 people gathering in public places. Many of the bars and restaurants have been closed, so that eliminates Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations. Of course, schools and day cares, gyms, hotels and travel industries, casinos, movie theaters, churches, and many businesses, are also closed, so people can’t go to those places to celebrate or even to carry on everyday life. Even the traditional dying or the Chicago River to emerald green for Saint Patrick’s Day has been cancelled. There are places that are open, such as stores, hospitals, and doctors offices, but people are asked to avoid them as much as possible. The idea of a sick person being told to avoid the doctor’s office or hospital is a very strange one. In times past, doctors would not diagnose disease over the phone, but now that is the first line of defense. The medical professionals don’t want people who have the disease to come in and infect other people. In fact, people are told to “quarantine or shelter in place” in an effort to slow the spread of the disease. Testing sites have even become drive-through…a previously unheard-of idea. All of these things have pushed Saint Patrick’s Day to the background of reality.

Nevertheless, I have seen a number of people who have put their own “Wearin’ O The Green” on line, or on television (for people who are in the news, etc), or just at home with their own families. I realize that this virus has dampened the spirits of many people, but deep down inside, there seems to live a victorious spirit within people. They seem to be refusing to allow this to bring about depression. On this Saint Patrick’s Day, I have seen the Ohio Governor Mike DeWine talking about postponing the Ohio Caucus, while wearing a blue suit, green tie, and green hair dye in his hair. Sure, the best case scenario is to be able to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in all of it’s traditions, but the reality of the Coronavirus insists that we do things differently this year. I like that so many people have chosen to celebrate in a social-distancing social media kind of way. I’m glad that people still seem to have a sense of humor, amid the panic. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to one and all!!

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