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LIFE IN A TIME OF COVID

Spring sprung propelling us into a new phase of the Covid journey. By May, many of us were vaccinated, communities began to withdraw mask requirements, and most of us got giddy with the relief of it all. A strong desire exists to launch forth, to get back to life, return to normal (even if normal will never be normal again). I feel it, too!

But part of me knows we’re missing the sacred lessons, not wanting to look back. Examining 2020 is difficult. Many of us had good things happen last year. My gratitude jar is bursting (mostly because I learned to look for the profound, little miracles that escape our perception when times are good). Did you catch those? Even so, our year dealing with the Covid crisis was tough.

One way to process what we went through and understand the time has inspired me to put together a written record to leave behind. Initially, I thought about doing a few pages with personal insights and photos to be tucked into a family photo album so that unlike the 1918 pandemic, Covid won’t be as easily forgotten. The project has grown and I’m not sure what the final product will look like. But for the purpose of this blog, I want to take you back to just the FIRST month of life under the pandemic. To give a glimpse of what was happening here, more or less— day by day. I chose to frame this as a Colorado experience and am indebted to my husband who was journaling consistently during this early period. This was our experience but it’s also your experience, because we all faced the fear, the challenges, and the sacrifices of Covid. Perhaps, you’ll be inspired to put together your own reflections and tuck them away for later generations to find.

(Reading below you will see references to “Laura.” I write under the pen name/spiritual name, “Ellis”- but we are the same person.)

FAMILY NOTES

THE COVID19 EXPERIENCE 2020

Overall Emerging Crisis:

Issued by the Executive Office of the President (Trump) Mar. 13, 2020: Proclamation 9994

“In December 2019, a novel (new) coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 (“the virus”) was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, People’s Republic of China, causing outbreaks of the coronavirus disease COVID-19 that has now spread globally. The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared a public health emergency on January 31, 2020, under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 247d), in response to COVID-19. I have taken sweeping action to control the spread of the virus in the United States, including by suspending entry of foreign nationals seeking entry who had been physically present within the prior 14 days in certain jurisdictions where COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred, including the People’s Republic of China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Schengen Area of Europe. The Federal Government, along with State and local governments, has taken preventive and proactive measures to slow the spread of the virus and treat those affected, including by instituting Federal quarantines for individuals evacuated from foreign nations, issuing a declaration pursuant to section 319F-3 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 247d-6d), and releasing policies to accelerate the acquisition of personal protective equipment and streamline bringing new diagnostic capabilities to laboratories.” 

Last week of Feb: Ken visits his mother in Orlando, Fl. There is national news coverage of the emerging crisis. Ken, busy with family, remains oblivious. Laura is very concerned at home in CO. Laura’s early attempts to calculate death figures indicate .5M- 2M.   

March 5, 2020: first reported Covid cases in Colorado. One of the cases was in Douglas County in a woman recently returned from a cruise. Most of the early cases occurred in the mountain resort towns of Crested Butte, Aspen, and Vail apparently brought in by international ski tourists.

 From Ken Nelson’s Journal entries:

5 Mar: Returned from Florida after visiting my mother (in Orlando). My son,  Mike, met me after work and we ate before he drove me home. This was my last dinner out. The first CO case reported.

6 Mar: Laura and I did some Covid shopping even though the stockpiling had already begun. No toilet paper or cold medicines. We were already reasonably stocked given our normal patterns, but it was something to see shelves empty without there being bad weather. Second CO case is a Middle School Student (at Mike’s old school, just around the corner from us.

7 Mar: Found some toilet paper at Home Depot, 400 US cases – 17 deaths.

8 Mar: 500 US cases – 22 deaths.

9 Mar: 600 US cases – White House briefing –way behind in communications. More about economics than health given the DOW fell 2000 points. At home, we had contractors over to bid on a home renovation project that will involve the removal of a wall (aren’t sure we will be able to proceed should lock-downs occur. Also, went through the what-ifs for long term shutdown (what do we need personally?) Get the car running OK so, set up MIDAS appt for 12th.

On March 10, 2020: Gov. Jared Polis declares a state of emergency in CO. Polis also announced 17 total presumptive positive cases in the state. A drive-up testing facility for patients with a doctor’s note is being set up.

March 11, 2020: The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the COVID-19 outbreak can be characterized as a pandemic. Rates of infection continue to rise in many locations around the world and in the US. Some events in CO are cancelled (Conference on World Affairs at CU Boulder, Nederland’s Frozen Dead Guy Days) but others continue (Post Malone concert at Denver’s Pepsi Center proceeds, drawing a sellout-crowd of 20,000, likely the largest enclosed gathering in the U.S. before widespread lock-downs). 

 Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

11 Mar: Trump Oval Office speech. Sounds really flat –no heart. US cases: 1300.

March 12, 2020: Many major school districts in the Denver metro announce closures lasting at least two weeks. Due to the strain on medical facilities in mountain communities the Governor discouraged mountain travel for the elderly.

 Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

12 Mar: US – 1663 cases. Testing the big issue – want it to be made in USA even though Germany had a functioning test early on. TV has long lines for those that have permission for the test.

March 13, 2020: First Covid death in CO, an 80-year-old woman in El Paso County. National State of Emergency declared. Proclamation 9994 of March 13, 2020:

“The spread of COVID-19 within our Nation’s communities threatens to strain our Nation’s healthcare systems. As of March 12, 2020, 1,645 people from 47 States have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. It is incumbent on hospitals and medical facilities throughout the country to assess their preparedness posture and be prepared to surge capacity and capability. Additional measures, however, are needed to successfully contain and combat the virus in the United States.”

Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

13 Mar: National Emergency declared -allows $50B in FEMA aid. Closures after closures. US cases 2247 (per WorldoMeter) with 50 deaths. First CO death. CO has 70 cases. Undercounting at 7 cases/million. Italy has 300 cases per million. 8 states close schools. CO counties looking to extend spring break. Italy overwhelmed and selecting who gets a ventilator (choosing who lives and who dies) .

Laura goes to doctor appt – couldn’t write a better skit. Something like this—Patient Stacey has symptoms but can’t connect via telemedicine. No! They don’t want herto come in the office!!!60+ year old woman there but, doesn’t want to be. Freaks out a bit when man enters looking like death, dressed in black wearing a face mask. (added: This is before any one is wearing a face mask.)

We are not ready….  Laura’s early concern valid. This is fast! I thought this stuff maybe by 31 Mar– NOT 13 Mar.

Mom’s place (in Orlando) allows no visitors – I was there 8 days ago.

March 14, 2020: Gov. Polis orders ski areas closed temporarily.

Gov. Jared Polis (CO)

Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

15 Mar (Sunday): St. Patrick’s Day breakfast held at house. US cases: 3680. Starting to look at stats. 33% daily growth common in the world.

March 16, 2020: Denver mayor ordered all bars and restaurants closed on March 17 (except for food delivery and pickup) and banned gatherings of more than 50 people. Governor Polis expanded closures ordering a state-wide lock-down of dine-in services, gyms, casinos, and theaters.

Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

16 Mar: US Cases:4663 Talk of a stimulus package.

17 Mar: We are now taking turns to grocery shop to avoid both of us being sick. Laura’s turn to shop this week. No meats, no cleaners. We have enough but, restocking is questionable. Laura reports how eerie it is to see shelves stripped bare. (Is this the US or Russia?) US cases: 6509

March 18, 2020: Governor closes schools until April 17 and banned gatherings of more than 10 people for the following 30 days. Polis also ordered ski resorts to remain closed until April 6. The governor advocates social distancing and announces the creation of a fund to aid those affected by COVID-19. San Miguel County became the first county in the nation to plan to test all of its residents. It also orders residents to “shelter-in-place.” Gun sales skyrocket, along with toilet paper, and hand sanitizer.  

 Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

18 Mar: US cases: 9257. There will be months of this (not days…)

March 19, 2020: Gov. extends the closure of bars, restaurants, theaters, gymnasiums and casinos until April 30 and suspended all nonessential medical procedures. The governor also orders the closure of “nonessential” businesses until April 30, which includes nail salons, spas, and tattoo parlors.Two days later, Rocky Mountain National Park closes due to fears over visitors bringing in the virus.

 Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

 19 Mar: CO allowing no non-essential travel or business. Started taking Elderberry. Theosophy meeting cancelled.

 20 Mar: White House Briefing is nothing but self-congratulatory comments with no real facts or leadership.” I have a feeling…??? All will be well.” Dr. Fauci’s body language says something VERY different. I would have kicked the team out if it were my briefing.

Dr. Anthony Fauci

21 Mar: US 24,207 cases. NYC and 5 states shut down – 11 days of PPE (personal protective equipment including masks & gowns). I run to the grocery store. No chicken, some  meat, eggs OK but will run out within a couple of hours. Yogurt/cheese OK. No  beans or pasta, no canned goods or baking goods. Empty shelves, loosely stocked everywhere.

22 Mar: US 33,567/419, CO: 591/6 Governors pleading for PPE. FEMA can’t say  what they have shipped.

March 23, 2020: Denver Mayor Hannock announces a “stay at home” order for Denver County.

Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

23 Mar: US 43,734/553, CO: 720/7 Trump hints young should go back to work. The

CURE can’t be worse than the disease is his thought economically. $500B slush fund with Relief package. Mom  sends an e-mail entitled “Prison”. We drove around to see store closures, etc. A few national retailers closed including Michaels, Bed, Bath and Beyond. others open – Target, Home Depot, Walmart and groceries stores. Generally stores that have the necessities of life (like food & medicine are allowed to remain open). Restaurants open for delivery only. Not as draconian as expected.

March 24, 2020: Already, thirteen Colorado counties and multiple cities have announced some form of the stay-at-home order.

 Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

24 Mar: US 58823/778, CO 912/11 Gov Polis updates and Gov Cuomo updates – real figures it seems.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (NY)

March 25, 2020: Amira Haven Nelson born. Baby delivered in a birthing center with a midwife, not at a hospital. There was concern by pregnant women to go to hospitals during the crisis. Although this was a choice made prior to Covid, we were very happy given the unfolding situation. Governor Polis put the state in complete lock-down, with a stay-at-home order scheduled to last through April 11. Mesa Verde National Park closed. All CO parks and wildlife areas under state control closed the next day.

Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

25 Mar: US 68,472/1032, CO 1086/19 Amira (granddaughter) is born. I had just finished store run and was 30th in line at 8:01. Long lines with one out-one in. No chicken, low on meats. Johnsonville sausages available to provide sufficient stocking. What a relief that Amira was born before the hospitals get overwhelmed – have some time before that but, it was good to not be in harm’s way. CO announces STAY AT HOME starting tomorrow. Traffic is quiet.

26 Mar: US 85,439/1295, CO 1430/19. Ordered online from Home Depot for first time.

Not as fun as wandering through the store. Ordered shoes in case of months-long issues, especially concerned for goods coming from China and abroad. Facebook is showing empty ports. Chinese goods (?) might not be getting through due to world crisis.

March 27, 2020: Governor working to add 5,000 ICU beds to Colorado’s capacity by the end of the summer and is in conversations to acquire more ventilators. The 8pm Denver Howl is started by folks in a neighborhood near the Denver Botanic Garden and Denver Zoo. This is to show support for hospital workers.

Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

 27 Mar: (two weeks of Emergency) US 104,126/1695 CO: 1734/31 Today is the day that it dawned on me that this was the emergency that we were always prepping for (ever since swine flu). All of the extra canned goods, TP, supplies etc. Good news is that COVID is not as deadly nor as airborne as other possible diseases.

March 28, 2020: White House approves request to declare a major disaster for Colorado. The status means the state is eligible to receive additional federal resources and funding to help address the pandemic. The New York Post named Gunnison County at 454.20 per 100,000 people and Eagle County at 331.74 per 100,000 as being two of the top four counties leading the nation in confirmed cases outside of New York and Louisiana.

Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

28 Mar: US 123,518/2221, CO: 2061/44 Governor CUOMO is on top of it. We start relying on his daily briefing to get accurate information and admire his leadership in the absence of it from the federal level.

29 Mar: US 143491/2583, CO 2307/47 rate of spread is slowing but a lack of testing may be hiding the growth rate.

30 Mar: US 163,844/3156, CO: 2627/51

31 Mar: US 188,530/3889, CO: 2966/269 Last time I volunteered at Food Bank (I think). 3 tons of food received from restaurant distributors since they aren’t open. Onions,potatoes, etc. Repackaging required.

End on March– Colorado doctors encouraging telemedicine, to keep people out of the hospitals or ERs to avoid infection. Many health insurance companies approve the same rate for a virtual visit as in-person. The demand for guns in Colorado continues to rise. Gun shops are considered essential businesses under the state’s stay-at-home order and are classified as “critical retail,” along with grocery stores, gas stations, marijuana dispensaries, liquor stores, and several other businesses. The Budweiser Events Center is identified as a possible temporary hospital as Colorado prepares for the coronavirus surge.

***************************************************************************************************

Looking back on this time, I was struck by just how fast things were moving and how rapidly we were adjusting to changes. I was also aware of how the hard recording of facts fails to convey the uncertainty and fear that held us. How adrift we felt without strong leadership to guide us. How alone we felt without answers. How uncertain we were about what the next day would bring. If you’ve found your own way to share or commemorate these events, please feel free to comment below. What memories has this stirred?

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BOOK SALE

For the next two weeks (May 30-Jun 15), INTO THE LAND OF SNOWS, Kindle edition, will be on sale for $2.99 ( orig. price $4.99).

HIGH ALTITUDE MAGIC & MYSTERY:

Sixteen year old Blake travels to Base Camp on Mt. Everest to spend time with his physician father. When a deadly avalanche occurs, Dad is forced to rethink things and sends Blake away. Now accompanied by a Sherpa guide, and in possession of a mysterious camera, Blake undertakes a journey that will challenge everything he believes. In the magical Himalayas, he will be forever changed by what he experiences.

To find my books, follow the link below.

https://amzn.to/33TcrTh

REIKI DISTANCE HEALING TREATMENTS: I’d like to offer my services to readers of the blog during the Covid crisis. Anyone interested in receiving a Reiki distance treatment can contact me at: ellisnelson@gmx.com. I will provide additional information via email. To honor the exchange practice of Reiki, you will be asked to make a $25 donation to your favorite charity.      

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Prophecy by SJ Parris

This is book two of a series with Giordano Bruno (defrocked-friar, philosopher, mathematician, poet, cosmological theorist, and Hermetic occultist) starring as master sleuth.

Queen Elizabeth sits on the throne while rumors of her demise circulate. It is the time of the Great Conjunction when Jupiter and Saturn align, signaling the cataclysmic end of the age. Fear and uncertainty grip the nation. France and Spain are eager to exploit any opportunity. Giordano Bruno is on the run from the Inquisition and under the King of France’s protection in England. He is also a mole for Elizabeth’s spymaster, Walsingham.

When several murders happen within the palace walls, Bruno must rely on his wits and his friends to survive. Luckily, he has John Dee (personal astrologer to the Queen) and the extensive spy net.

A very good historical thriller. Would have liked more astrology, occult material, etc. This is essentially an Elizabethan period, who-dun-it. So, a bit disappointing for me who wanted more depth on Bruno and his inner mind.

FIND MY BOOKS BY CLICKING BELOW:

https://amzn.to/30oq1NL

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ARCs are here!!

I think this is the culmination of the second eclipse this month! Time to start the birth process…

ELLIS NELSON BOOKS

bty

It’s getting exciting. I received a shipment of ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) from the publisher this week. After years of work on this book, I can finally hold it in my hands. Very satisfying!!

bty

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Interview with Bianca Gubalke

An interesting discussion for anyone interested in consciousness and spirituality.

ELLIS NELSON BOOKS

small photo

Today I welcome Bianca Gulbalke to talk about her book, Born With Wings: The ImmortalLife of Piu Piu. Bianca is an award-winning screenplay writer and artist, a passionate gardener, teacher and metaphysics student.

I recently finished her incredible work of visionary fiction. It’s one of those rare books that starts off immediately in the spiritual realm. From start to finish, this is visionary fiction at its finest and most bold. Swept up in the tale of incarnation, life, struggle, and purpose we follow the beautifully drawn characters as the author weaves a wonderful tale. An injured gosling and a little girl come together in lush and magical South Africa. There’s a call from ancestors and a drive for purpose, and danger’s never far away. It’s a captivating tale, a journey of emotions through life, death, and rebirth.

Thank you for joining me, Bianca!

B. GulbalkeWhat were your first glimmers…

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3rd Book Under Contract

dav

I’m delighted to announce, the novel, Timeless Tulips, Dark Diamonds (A Ghost Story) has been signed by Crystal Publishing LLC. The release date is TBD.

What’s this YA title about?

When fourteen-year-old Lydia travels to Amsterdam with her parents, the last thing she expects is the weird incidents that plague her stay. Curtains flutter mysteriously, and unexplained shadows move through the kitchen unnerving her. But Lydia is more concerned with the potential move to upstate New York. She dismisses the odd occurrences blaming them on jet lag and the various symptoms of her migraine disease.

When Lydia’s father lands a new job and the family moves to an area first settled by the Dutch, the bizarre happenings continue. Suffering from migraines has never been easy, but Lydia never thought it might be the way the ghost of a Dutch girl from the days of Tulipmania might hold her captive.

ELLIS NELSON BOOKS

dav

I’m delighted to announce, the novel, Tender Tulips, Dark Diamonds (A Ghost Story) has been signed by Crystal Publishing LLC. The release date is TBD.

What’s this YA title about?

When fifteen-year-old Lydia travels to Amsterdam with her parents, the last thing she expects is the weird incidents that plague her stay. Curtains flutter mysteriously, and unexplained shadows move through the kitchen unnerving her. But Lydia is more concerned with the potential move to upstate New York. She dismisses the odd occurrences blaming them on jet lag and the various symptoms of her migraine disease.

When Lydia’s father lands a new job and the family moves to an area first settled by the Dutch, the bizarre happenings continue. Suffering from migraines has never been easy, but Lydia never thought it might be the way the ghost of a Dutch girl from the days of Tulipmania might hold her captive.

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OPPORTUNITY- A FEW GREAT BOOKS

FOR YA/MG AUTHORS: Promotion opportunity on the Ellis Nelson Books blog (https://ellisnelsonbooks.wordpress.com).

ELLIS NELSON BOOKS

chronamut Image by Chronamut

One of the things I’d really like to do in 2018 is to reach out and partner with other authors who are writing books for kids similar to my own. In general, I’m looking for writers who are creating in the newly emerging genre called visionary fiction.

Does your book involve any of these?

* spiritual/esoteric wisdom relevant to life today

* evolved consciousness

* ghost stories, NDEs, dreams/visions, psychic abilities, healing, etc (all pointing to a

bigger  understanding of our reality)

* reincarnation

* spiritual evolution, the rise of Kundalini

If so, I’d be interested in hearing about you and your book(s), and to perhaps do an interview on this blog. Please send me an email at: himalayaspencerellis AT yahoo.com and tell me about your work.

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Winter Solstice at Stonehenge

dav

I’ve always hated my birthday. December 21 falls too close to Christmas for it ever to have been celebrated like a normal birthday. As a child I can remember (and remember vividly) the one and only birthday party where I had neighbor kids over. The rest of the time, birthdays were small family events squeezed in among the hubbub of Christmas. Not fun and not special. That coupled with the yearly reminder from my mother that I was born on the darkest day of the year did much to cement my feelings of apathy about my solar return. For a few years, I moved the event to January hoping for a better outcome. But there was no escaping it.

dav

2017 turned out to be quite an eye-opening experience living abroad, and in an attempt to take advantage of some once in a life-time opportunities, I thought maybe this year marking my birthday with the rising sun of solstice at Stonehenge would make a memorable birthday. It was!

bty

The tour bus left London in complete darkness at 4:20 AM and we made our way to the plains of Salisbury where we picked up some light rain. We were given the option of walking 50 minutes to the site or waiting for a shuttle bus. Luckily, the English Heritage organization that controls access to Stonehenge has done this for years and there were plenty of shuttle buses, so we boarded the bus and rode. We were dropped off, in the misty blackness at the edge of a parking lot with hundreds of others. All along the way, my husband and I were looking for the famous stones to orient ourselves but even standing with the crowd, we had no idea in which direction we’d eventually be led.

dav

Finally, someone from English Heritage ventured by with a flashlight to tell us that they were waiting for some light before they’d open the field for us to go up to the site. When someone asked her where, she gestured to the left behind a wire fence where again we saw nothing. The crowd was animated. In the distance and to the left, drums beat, and a lone bagpipe played. More shuttle buses came and left, and we waited.

dav

Not long after, the stones were lit on the hill above us and the pasture fence dropped. Stonehenge emerged from the black night on the first morning of winter. Druid drums beat a rhythm as the crowd and I were led through the marshy pasture and up to the historic site. I felt very emotional going up the hill and had to focus on my breathing to circulate the energy. Whether this was a reaction to ley lines, the crowd’s festive spirit, or my own internal work I don’t know, but it was powerful and deep (and Scorpionic?). There was a sense of rightness in this crowd moving up to take back this site.

dav

By the time I reached the stones, several hundred people were already massed in and around the site. Stonehenge is a relatively small area. The center was held by Druids and pagans who had begun their ceremonies. Eager to join in, my husband and I moved in as close as we could. Our initial position was just outside the center ring. Gradually things began to lighten. We honored the four directions and offered prayers of peace being led by, I believe, a Druid priest. We chanted, sang songs, and summoned the ancestors. It was a festive, lively, and inclusive ceremony. The official sunrise came without notice as the clouds never permitted the sun to shine. Once the ritual part of the gathering had concluded, a group of pagan singers dressed in red streamed into the center of the stones and led the crowd in more songs. After a while, it felt like time to leave and my husband and I walked around the circle. I had a chance to touch some of the stones and walk the grounds of the site.

dav

One of the most important reasons to visit Stonehenge at one of the solstices is that people are allowed in among the stones and on the grounds. During the rest of the year, tourists are allowed only to walk a paved path behind a barrier around the site. Those restrictions have been in place for some years now to protect the site. Only on limited rare occasions can visitors access and touch the stones (although technically you’re not supposed to, but everyone does).

dav

Stonehenge is positioned on the top of a gentle hill with a panoramic view of surrounding fields. It’s isolated and unexpected, retaining its mystery. I settled on a fallen stone with some others. Revelers in the distance kept up the party atmosphere as I dropped into a healing mediation with the aid of the beat of a steady drum. It was easy to ground and go deep. I emerged sometime later, cold and stiff. It was time to leave.

dav

The visit had been characterized by three different phases. First, there had been the emotional climb to the site. The stones themselves and the experience of greeting the solstice was joyous and a shared one. The final phase was solitary, deep, and healing. No bolts of lightening but more a gladness that I’d been there. That this birthday was memorable and special.

dav

I was surprised that I had not felt more in the way of energy at the site, but then I had done some shielding ahead of our arrival. An unexpected thing happened the next day in London though. While we were waiting to get the underground, I suddenly started running energy that intensified in my palms. This lasted for some time and I think was connected to the previous day’s work. So, I’m keeping an open mind and we’ll see where this goes. Maybe a blog in the future.

 

 

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Well…life in Belgium

Exploring Grand Place 010

I keep pushing this blog post off into the future hoping that with the passage of time some kind of perspective would give way to a new way of seeing things. I didn’t want to project a bunch of negativity, especially if what is happening is short-lived. It’s been two months now so obviously my feelings and impressions aren’t fleeting. Time for a check in blog and if you were hoping for a sunny, happy go lucky piece- abandon hope here. Once you read this, I won’t be anyone’s envy and you’ll all be glad you have not forsaken your Lazyboy recliner positioned comfortably before your hundreds of TV channels ALL IN ENGLISH!!!! Not that everything is TV. But how many of you can shrug off not having a phone or internet access for a month? My TV options are limited to BBC, CNN Europe, and a few channels that run old American movies. Nothing begins on the hour. We have no idea why. My husband jokes that it’s tied to the bus schedule (and it may be).

Voorkant gedaan

I live in a French quarter on the east side of Brussels that is centered around a Catholic Church built in the 1930s. There’s a quaint town circle that holds a market every Wednesday morning. No joke- that is where I’m supposed to do my grocery shopping if I were living as a Belgian. I think this is a hold over from a bygone era because some of the young families sure seem eager to make use of the handful of VERY NEW supermarkets coming in. I do see a lot of old people at the village markets, but dual income families don’t have time to shop mid-day in the middle of the week. One of the major problems we have here is that stores are not open a lot. Many things close by six or seven on the weekdays and virtually nothing is open on Sunday. Remember the Blue laws (if you’re old enough to remember back to the 70s)? If you’re an American who hasn’t lived like this in forty years, it’s quite an adjustment. From what I understand, Germany and the Netherlands are not like this.

Exploring Grand Place 017

The house we’re in dates from the 1950s. It has many odd features that have been eye opening. Every room has a door, every door has a key- each unique to the door. The basement has three interior keys and a locking mechanism designed by a former security official for the state of Belgium (absolute truth!). The windows have a tilting mechanism that allows “air from the garden.” Since they have no screens, we can’t even try them because the two cats would be out in an instant.There are heavy privacy shades that roll down over the exterior of the front and back windows. These are like those inner city store security systems you see in sketchy neighborhoods. Since I couldn’t bring my weight machine, these provide my upper arms with a daily work out routine. The staircases in the house are narrow, uncarpeted, and treacherous. Probably the most unique feature (?) to the whole house is the WC (water closet) on the main level. Upon entering the house, to the right (after climbing two stairs) is a small closet- like cubicle that houses a toilet. It is the only bathroom on the main living level and it means that all your visitors get to wash their hands in the kitchen sink. Now this would be okay if this house was a 1600s Dutch canal house before modern sanitation, but really?  The house was built in 1951!!!!

Hal boven a gedaan

Anyway, this blog has gone on and could go on rambling over eight weeks of hard earned experience. But I’d better give you all a break.

Here are some  of the things I’d give my eye teeth for (after weeks of searching here’s what we still can’t find):

breakfast sausage (for my husband, any kind)

chicken gravy (any form)

a plastic pitcher (to make iced tea)

ice cube trays

baby oil- gel

81″ length, sheer curtains

a shower curtain

raw hide chews (for the dog, no way am I giving him pig’s ears!!)

loose leaf paper

(all found at your local Walmart)

Future Blog Topics:

Laundry: The Persistent Nightmare

And You Thought You Knew Meat (why something labeled hamburger contains only chicken)

Who is Madam PeePee & Why Do I have to Pay Her?

How to Fry 2 Computers in 8 Weeks: (hey-the IT guy is here and speaks only French)

dav

dav

 

 

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The Book of Lost Fragrances by MJ Rose

book-of-lost-frag

I wanted to read this book immediately after I read the premise.

Jac L’Etoile is a successful author and TV personality who hosts a show about myths. She comes from a long line of famous French perfumers, but she’s walked away from the business. It’s not until the business is in trouble and her brother goes missing in Paris that she returns to confront her past. Her mother’s suicide, a father suffering dementia, and troubling visions all connected with scent threaten to derail Jac from finding her brother.

Jac learns her brother has resurrected a family legend tied to an ancestor who discovered a scent created in Cleopatra’s time that could induce memories of past lives. Of course, Jac is highly skeptical of the idea, but as her own visions intensify bringing her closer to her dead mother, images of ancient Egypt and the French Revolution begin to emerge all calling her sanity into question. Evidence comes light that forces Jac to consider whether her brother may have been killed for Cleopatra’s secret scent. An esoteric society along with the Chinese government all have designs on the powerful perfume her brother was protecting. Interestingly, the brother’s only wish is to get the scent into the hands of the Dalai Lama who can use the memory tool as possible evidence for reincarnation.

I found the idea of scent as a possible device for unlocking past life memory original and irresistible. The visions/past life memory segments of the book were well done. The book reads like a thriller and that’s a plus for me. There is a romantic element woven in that’s kind of cliché but necessary for Jac to resolve her karmic past. I appreciate the author’s research into scent and the history of the perfume industry and did not find it distracted from the plot. I love that kind of detail! Unfortunately, two little details irked me. The Dalai Lama wears burgundy robes not saffron (saffron is worn by Southeast Asian Buddhists). There is also a lot made out of the Dalai Lama being inaccessible and unreachable by Jac’s brother which is not true. His Holiness travels and has a full calendar. He meets groups wherever he goes and he holds meetings in Dharamsala. I know people who have met the Dalai Lama so he is far from unreachable.

Overall, this is an interesting book that moves fast and keeps the reader’s attention while introducing a little known industry. While I didn’t realize it at the time, this book is part of a series on reincarnation by MJ Rose. Some of the reviews for this book indicate she’s hit her stride with this one.

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