Tag Archives: pandemic

Musings on Covid: Past & Future

As the Covid years unfolded, it became apparent that the magnitude of its significance would not be known for many years, perhaps even not until well after my own death. Certainly it felt like the most important event I ever lived through which says a lot. Having been born in the 1960s, I’ve lived through the turbulent social changes of that time, the moon landing, Vietnam, 911, the Gulf Wars, and currently the divisions between the right and left political factions that led to the Jan. 6th, 2021 Insurrection at the Capitol. While all those events were important in their own ways, many of them felt distant or impersonal. Covid, while experienced differently for everyone, left no American untouched. Not really.

I chose to end a family history document of the event in the fall of 2022, but this was an arbitrary choice. There has been no concluding event that signals an end to Covid. Although a national memorial service was conducted at the Lincoln Memorial the day before Pres. Biden was sworn in (Jan. 19, 2021), the country has not yet fully grieved the losses and changes associated with the pandemic.  In many ways Covid is not done with us. We still don’t know the full ramifications of how the pandemic has changed us as individuals (i.e.. the actual virus in our bodies) or as a society. The impacts of Covid are more than disease and death. It will be years before we have understood the ramifications of this event.

What can I say about being alive at this time? Overall, there is the pervading feeling that we failed. The challenge of Covid was an easy one. We had an enemy in the form of a disease that should have pulled us together as a nation and rallied us to fight a pathogen. It didn’t. Instead, it served as a wedge allowing some parts of society to try to undermine legitimate government and actively spread misinformation for political gain. Science and vaccines became enemies. People died as a consequence. Americans were poorly served by President Trump who had no desire to lead and who was clearly the wrong man for the times. The federal government was too slow, too unprepared, too disorganized to respond to a worldwide pandemic that everyone knew would eventually one day occur. We learned too late that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) was not the best organization to lead in an unfolding emergency. Leadership did emerge at the state level where we witnessed several governors step up to the task of leading. Notable among them were New York’s Gov. Cuomo, CA’s Gov. Newsom, and CO’s Gov. Polis. At the same time, we saw awful behavior among some governors who fought mask mandates, vaccines, and often reopened their states in defiance of health guidelines. In terms of infection and death rates, blue states (led by Democrats) fared better than red states (led by Republicans). This is due to the fact that Democrats believed there was a pandemic and that vaccines were a legitimate tool to fight infection. In general, Republicans were skeptical about Covid and often rejected vaccines and health policies advocated to fight the spread of the disease.

It must be remembered that the Covid years were experienced differently for people. Where you lived made a difference. People residing in New York City bore the early brunt of the first wave, suffered huge casualties, and witnessed triage methods that prioritized who would get treated. Nursing homes and residential care facilities had outbreaks that ripped through them. They were closed off to visitors and family. Many died alone. We all saw the videos of family members outside of windows waving their last goodbyes or Skyping them. While the elderly were the most vulnerable to the actual disease and death, even the young were heavily impacted. Schools were severely disrupted. Outbreaks caused schools to send students home. Many schools went to online models of instruction. Some used a hybrid of in-school and online learning. Not only did academic achievement suffer but so did student mental health. During the Covid years of physical separation, all age groups flocked to social media as a way to communicate. Not too surprisingly, mental health challenges increased, and social isolation will have to be something seriously considered for the next pandemic.

Although there seems to be a feeling that Covid has changed us, you get the sense that most Americans want to forget the experience as fast as possible. This happened during the 1918 Flu Pandemic as well. So pervasive was that forgetting that contemporary audiences only recently rediscovered that period of history as we became aware of the likelihood of another pandemic around the time of SARS (2003). The forgetting (I feel) is fully underway now. In searching for a book to give a broad sociological framework to the Covid experience, I could find none. There are books on the medical failures and personal accounts of what was experienced. So I was left to my own devices to address areas that seem relevant and likely to be impacted as we go forward. To be sure, history will write its own assessment of this time. It is important to understand that living through the experience is not the same as evaluating successes and failures after the fact when all the details are known. By and large, the average American was making decisions regarding risk in a world where the facts were not known. Most of us did the best we could. Some were led astray by misinformation. This was not without consequence, unfortunately.

Certain changes and trends have come about during the Covid years. Some of them were already underway and some are entirely due to the pandemic. Regardless, Americans will feel these changes.

While my family history document focused on how events unfolded in the US, the pandemic was worldwide. As a result, there were disruptions in supply chains throughout the Covid years that were unpredictable. It was not uncommon to wait for months to get building materials or furniture that came from abroad. The need for medical supplies the nation needed throughout the crisis was often exasperated by the fact that we had not stockpiled the items and did not control the manufacture of them either. So while, it felt like we were moving toward a global economy, Covid made us rethink how our interdependence on foreign suppliers was in fact crippling (especially when the whole world wants those very things at the same time). Perhaps we should be less dependent or so the thinking goes.   

One of the primary areas that went through a significant rethink during this period was how Americans work. Covid forced many in service-related industries out of jobs for prolonged periods. Many of the jobs in food and hospitality never came back. Other workers (generally the better educated or computer-based services) were sent home to work from a home office. Work from home had long been proposed going back to the 1980s but never made much gain. Covid was the opportunity to see it launch and launch successfully. So popular was it, that when employers wanted workers to return to the office, it was met with resistance. Time at home gave people the ability to reevaluate the work/life balance. No longer were old work paradigms meeting today’s workers’ needs. The waves of change continue to ripple through the workplace. As they do, they spill over. What will urban landscapes look like if workers do not return to office buildings? Downtown shops and restaurants may need to adapt as business shifts to a more decentralized model. How do suburban neighborhoods change to serve the needs of stay-at-home workers or do they? What new forms of social and entertainment structure will develop as a result?   

Although Americans had previously embraced online shopping, Covid forced us online in ways no one could predict. We came to rely on suppliers like Amazon, FedEx, UPS, and others to receive goods when we were in lockdown and beyond. These workers became “essential workers” and  we grew used to seeing them in our neighborhoods on a daily basis. As local shortages in stores manifested, we often took to the internet to scout out suppliers and have them delivered. Contactless shopping modes developed during this time. Ordering locally and waiting in the parking lot for your groceries or food to arrive kept us safer during Covid. This limited our exposure to other people (and potentially the virus). Other kinds of stores like hardware, office supply, and craft stores also had pick-up in the parking lot. It is interesting to note that during this period it was not uncommon to sit in the parking lot and wait to be called inside for doctor or veterinarian appointments, as well. Some of these modes of shopping continued beyond the crisis and proliferated after the pandemic’s height. With the retail market under severe pressure, many stores and especially restaurants closed permanently. There is no doubt that where and how we shop is undergoing massive change.

Early in the Covid crisis, as more and more people were sent home, certain expectations arose. One was that the birthrate would skyrocket. That never happened. The economic and life-threatening nature of the crisis gave Americans pause over everything. Birth rates declined. Marriages were put off. People hesitated about selling their houses or making long-term decisions. Holiday events, reunions, graduations, and funerals did not happen. Yes—people were buried but sometimes with only a few family members present because we were not allowed to gather in groups during some periods of the pandemic. Many of life’s milestones went unmarked. This also must be factored into the mental health toll.

Even as I write this in 2023, we do not know the real numbers of dead. There remains some uncertainty over when the virus first hit America. In addition, there are anomalies on data collection between the states and amongst the various data sources. Some people who got Covid did not recover in the usual way, and they were given the illness tag: Long Covid (now called post Covid19 by the World Health Organization). The medical community is trying to understand the symptomology and prevalence of the condition. However, at this point, not much is known. Some are severely impacted. We await more information on the various vaccines (any long-term effects on the body, if any, which are unknown at this point) and of the virus itself. We still don’t know the exact origin of the Covid virus. Much speculation occurred over whether the virus came from a lab or wet market in China, or some other source. No doubt, science will reveal much more about all this. During 2019-2020 life expectancy dropped 1.5 years largely a result of the Covid19 pandemic (from 78.8 to 77.3 years). It was the largest one-year decline since WWII.

The one truly remarkable victory of this time was that the US, through the private sector with government subsidies, produced several effective vaccines within a year of the contagion. Masks, social distancing, shutting down, and eventually the vaccine, curbed the spread of Covid and prevented death. Going forward, it should be a cautionary reminder that Covid had a relatively low death rate. Even so, American hospital resources were quickly outstripped as waves of the disease hit. Factions of the American public resisted public health efforts encouraging vaccination and vaccination skepticism (fed by misinformation) continued. Higher rates of spread and higher death rates in future pandemics would likely lead to worse outcomes.

Lastly, there’s an attempt in Colorado to have some kind of memorial built to honor the 15,000 people who died in our state during the pandemic. It seems like a good idea but there also seems to be a need to do something nationally. The first permanent memorial for Covid-19 victims was established in 2021 in Wall Township, New Jersey. The modest display consists of 6000+ hand-painted rocks arranged in hearts and mounted in frames. Noble as the effort was, surely over one million American deaths require a larger, dedicated effort.      


Filed under Covid-19


A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis

This is the BEST real-life thriller I’ve read since Hot Zone, and it provides the basis for the hell year we all lived through in 2020.

Michael Lewis conducted the background research to explain why the US was horribly prepared to face the unfolding of a pandemic. In this book, we meet the behind-the-scenes heroes, who early on attempted to provide insight and guidance, and … were thwarted.

Read about Laura Glass, a 13-year-old in New Mexico, whose interest in disease spread for a science fair project becomes the nation’s starting point in understanding how to model Covid increases. Of course, this couldn’t happen except in a nation focused on external terrorist groups. Lewis also exposes the reader to the systemic failures of the public health system by taking us inside the lived experience of a Lilith-like character (Dr. Charity Dean) who buts heads time and again with the CDC, even before Covid. As a public health officer, she knew how her contemporaries would react as 5000 or so separate entities, at a time when a single strategy would be necessary to contain spread. Learn the history concerning the Swine Flu and why the CDC would never step up again and take the lead in a time of crisis. As an agency, the CDC emerges singularly unfit to fight anything. It is an academic study agency wholly unsuited to lead anyone anywhere.

Behind the scenes, like in a great movie, a team of maverick scientists gather online to share data and ideas. Many are highly placed, occupying careers in agencies throughout the government, risking their careers meeting covertly. Led by Carter Mecher of the VA, the team overturned previously held beliefs about the 1918 Pandemic showing that social distancing and mask wearing could make a difference. Mecher had also been  instrumental in developing a national response plan under a previous administration. For a time, the team has an influence especially when Charity Dean gets the ear of CA. Gov. Newsom in the early days of the pandemic but soon politics force her out. If this had been a Hollywood movie, the heroes would have prevailed after the fight, but this was reality and 2020 was some kind of alternate reality at that. The book ends in the spring of 2020. Bungling government institutions fail to step up, focusing on avoiding blame, and preserving the status quo. Hundreds of thousands die, the nation is divided, we fail to contain the pandemic. Big questions remain. Have we learned anything? Will we take the steps to address pervasive governmental shortcomings, or will we be the laughingstock of the world in the next pandemic, too?

Hundreds of books will be written in the years to come to trying to capture the Covid experience. This is an eye-opening one setting the stage for what unfolds. If you were constantly puzzled by the lack of governmental leadership on all levels, this book is a good starting point into gleaning an understanding.

To find my books, click on the link below.  


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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.)



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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Photo: Dietmar Rabich

There’s something about this Thanksgiving that resonates deeply with the past. Back to the time of the first feast— And I’m not talking about images of a perfect family gathered around a spectacular roasted turkey, Norman Rockwell-like. After all, isn’t that how most Americans view the holiday? Quick, frenzied trips, across-country if necessary, to reacquaint with family, stuff ourselves, and hit the road home again. Year after year. It’s tradition. No, this year—it’s about…suffering.

Suffering is what binds us to the pilgrims who arrived EXACTLY 400 years ago. On Dec. 21, 1620, a landing party reached the site where the colony of Plymouth would be built. That first winter was tough and grim. Arriving so late in the year, only seven residences and four common houses (of the 19 planned structures) were built. Half of the 102 pilgrims perished in the first year, most in the first few months. Celebration of what we call the “First Thanksgiving” happened in October 1621 after almost a year of long, hard work. Only 53 pilgrims were left to attend the event. Those who remained probably took stock of the sacrifice and endurance it took to establish their small colony.

Thanksgiving 2020 is tied to the first part of the pilgrims’ experience here. One of hardship, loss, and grief. Already 260,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus. By the time, we take our seats at the dining table, we’ll have to acknowledge that we’ve lost almost as many fellow citizens to the pandemic that has raged for ten months as died in combat during WWII (1941-1945). * (And they called them The Greatest Generation.) How does anyone wrap their mind around the kind of loss we’re experiencing now? Grief will join us this Thanksgiving even if we haven’t (yet) been touched by the pandemic. It lurks just under the surface. A certain uneasiness about the future. Where will we be next month? Who will be sick then? Who will be gone?

Some part of us knows we haven’t built our shelters or come through the long, dark winter. Like the pilgrims, we are just as vulnerable as they were stepping into a new world fraught with danger. The future will require people of character, strength, and vision. Capable of great sacrifice and great faith. May we find them and may they be us.

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_casualties_of_war).


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Where to now, St. Peter?

In these times of isolation and confusion, I wanted to share something encouraging and uplifting. I was so grateful to find this piece on Facebook. This wonderful work was penned by Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM. I hope it is acceptable to share it here. I think it can do so much good in the world right now.

photo: Arisepeter


Yes there is fear.

Yes there is isolation.

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.


They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

The sky is no longer thick with fumes

But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi

People are singing to each other

across the empty squares,

keeping their windows open

so that those who are alone

may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland

Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know

is busy spreading fliers with her number

through the neighbourhood

So that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples

are preparing to welcome

and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting

All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality

To how big we really are.

To how little control we really have.

To what really matters.

To Love.

So we pray and we remember that

Yes there is fear.

But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is panic buying.

But there does not have to be meanness.

Yes there is sickness.

But there does not have to be disease of the soul

Yes there is even death.

But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic

The birds are singing again

The sky is clearing,

Spring is coming,

And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

And though you may not be able

to touch across the empty square,


– Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM
March 13th 2020

REIKI DISTANCE HEALING TREATMENTS: I’d like to offer my services to readers of the blog. 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.      

To find my books, follow the link below.



Filed under pandemic

An Astrological Look at the Pandemic

An interesting look at what astrology has to say about the future of the US and Covid-19. A video from Astrolada on YouTube. Speaker: Dr. Lee Lehman.


Filed under astrology