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  • Julie Folkerts
    Posted January 5, 2022 at 12:24 pm

    Happy New Year! 

    Or will 2022 be a happy new year?

    How can I celebrate the new year arriving when I’m quarantined in my tiny apartment?   I’m feeling OK, but the home COVID test came back positive. I’ve had all my vaccinations and booster, so why do they still insist that I stay isolated. I’ve read some of the tests can register as a false positive, but if you don’t know for sure, you are to follow the protocol – five days quarantined from others.

    My roommate left to stay with her sister since she was opposed to the vaccinations and had not received any. She had not had COVID and didn’t plan on getting it.
    My best friend is throwing a get-together for co-workers and close friends – 20 in all. She asked everyone to be tested and to be honest and, if testing positive, skip the festivities at her home.

    It’s challenging to remain positive and follow the CDC protocol when, to be honest, it changes every week or two? We don’t want to infect someone else, especially an older adult or someone with underlying health concerns.

    But really, doesn’t our psych matter? Many people suffer from loneliness and others from anxiety attacks when they venture out. Our head can now play a part in our health.

    I believe that the answer is for each of us to pray to God and ask that he guide our healthcare professionals and researchers to find the response to this pandemic quickly. We need companionship – we are human. Dogs and cats are lovely, but we need human conversation, touching, and laughing. 

    But above all, we need to think positively – live a life of gratitude. And to assist others whenever it is safe to do so.

  • Ray Deckert
    Posted January 5, 2022 at 12:42 pm

     Leap of Faith

               Dad started working with me in baseball when I was two and a half years old or at least thats what I was told. During the summer months, he would roll a ball to me instructing on how to let the ball roll into the glove as well as pitching a ball for me to hit. We did this every summer and then when I was nine years old, Dad found a team for me to play on. Center field was where I played that summer. I played on teams the next years moving to second base and then short stop.
               At age 13, I progressed to high school which had a baseball team among other sports teams. Of course I wanted to play on the high school baseball team and tryouts were held in February of 1956 at the Heman park baseball diamond. I started to ride my bike to the field and then turned around and went home. Fear overwhelmed me. I couldn
    t go through the pressure of try outs. Im not sure why exactly except that I had a lot of fears not the least of which was failing and not making the team.
               The next year, my sophomore year, tryouts were being held again. This time, I was determined to go. My dad had trained me well and taught me the fundamentals of the game and there was no reason to at least try out. Getting cut wouldn
    t be the end of the world. It`s only baseball. Still I had to overcome a lot of fears inside and screw up my courage to go out on the field.
               There were about 150 boys trying out for the team and only about three openings available. The tryout lasted three days from 4 PM until 6 PM. The coaches hit ground balls and fly balls and pitched balls for batting. I felt the energy of the moment giving it my best. The nervousness abated somewhat after getting on the field and fielding and hitting balls.
               The next day, the list of those who made the team were on the bulletin board. Now I had to get up the courage to see if my name was listed. In a burst of excitement, my name was on the list. All that nervousness and now the results were in. It was a good feeling to see my name on the list and I proudly announced it to my parents that night. They were , of course, happy for me.

    • Kit Dwyer
      Posted January 5, 2022 at 4:58 pm

      Ray, I enjoyed reading your story! It is well put together and helps the reader understand your emotions well. I especially like how you describe your fear. Its very relatable, as most of us have some fears in life. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Orah Zamir
    Posted January 5, 2022 at 2:45 pm


    I had been living in my apartment in Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, for nine years. New management bought the building, and they were terrible. I needed to move, but I didn’t have a lot of money. Looking at rental ads, I realized I was priced out of the market. I finally took an apartment being released by a member of my religious community who was moving in with her boyfriend.
             That apartment was a disaster. I couldn’t afford the rent. I fell and broke my wrist. My neighbor, who offered to drive me around in my car, took it for a ride over the George Washington bridge. Then, when his electricity was shut off, he wired it into my electricity. I had to get out of there.
             At a meeting, someone suggested I seek subsidized senior housing. I did some research and discovered that there were long waiting lists everywhere. I didn’t see anything I felt comfortable about moving into, anyway.
             At the only work placement I had left, the activities director told me about a brand new building that was opening up. All I had to do was get in line. I drove myself crazy trying to decide what time to get in line. I thought about going the night before but rejected that idea. My leap of faith was that I decided on 6am.
             When I arrived, there were about 10 people in line for the 38 apartments. At the front of the line were two people sitting comfortably in portable chairs who had arrived the night before. We got coffee at the Starbucks across the street. I introduced myself to a woman who is still my neighbor and friend today. By the time the doors opened at 9 the line was all the way around the building.
             I went inside the building around 9:30 and filled out a pile of papers. I don’t remember how long I waited until I heard that I got in. With a few of the other new residents, I went to the building. We were the first to choose our apartments. I chose an apartment on the first floor because I am claustrophobic and did not want to deal with elevators and because there was a wide window shelf which I thought my cat would love (he did). Later on, I had second thoughts because there were two noisy garages across the street and a better view from the fourth floor. Besides, I ended up having to go up there because that is where the laundry room was.
             I have been here 12 years. I am happy and unhappy that the neighborhood is urban. There is no garden or park to go to and enjoy nature. I loved New York City because I would take my dog for walks in Central Park every day and sit by the lake. The is no body of water like that here. There is, however, a senior center at the other end of the block. I have been involved in many activities there. The center had been closed since Covid but has now reopened for some activities. I am considering joining a knitting class. For several years I sang in the chorus and led Jewish holiday programs, but I have lost my voice and cannot do that now. After months of physical therapy, I have returned to my fitness class which is now on Zoom.
             I am happy for the senior amenities we have, like emergency cords (except when the cat pulls them). It is very convenient to public transportation which I have appreciated since I gave up my car. There is a hospital a block away. My doctor is in the neighborhood. There is a Rite Aid and a major supermarket. I have a spacious one-bedroom apartment. The outside walls of the living room and bedroom are almost all window. My bedroom is my retreat, and it has a walk-in closet with a light. I have wall-to-wall carpeting except for the kitchen and bathroom. The bathroom is large in case someone has a wheelchair. The shower has a built-in bench and grab bars, as well as an emergency cord. There is also a sprinkler system. This building does not have a guard full time, but our sister building next door does, and they do check on this building. We have a community room for activities and a social worker. Twice I have been the recipient of a grant of a $100 gift card for food every three months for a year. Since I stopped working, a subsidy has paid the difference between what I pay and the rent level of the apartment. I know the Universe guided me here step by step, and I am grateful.

  • Liz
    Posted January 5, 2022 at 3:18 pm

    This is an edited version of last night’s story – which I’ve written about before in Patricia’s “Challenge,” but works better through the ‘leap of faith” lens, I think:

    Leap of Faith

    Five years ago, coming up on my 75th birthday, I took a leap of faith. 
    Twenty-five years earlier, things had been very different. For my half-century birthday, my best friends Sandy and Connie worked with my husband, Charlie, to plan and pull off a big bash. Sandy and her husband Jim, our best couple friends back then, along with the rest of our made-up Rochester family, celebrated every holiday and birthday together. That group collaborated with Charlie on the party place, decorated it, brought a cake and other refreshments. Connie, a talented artist, designed and sent the invitations. Another friend arranged delivery of a basket from my parents and siblings in Maine and Colorado. And Sandy helped Charlie pick out a special present, my 50th-birthday ring. 
    But this time there was no one to organize or even remember a celebration for me. As a a retiree, I had lost touch with work friends. The made-up family had dumped us 20 years ago. Connie was mostly house-bound and her hands shook from medication. Most importantly, Charlie had been gone for a decade.
    For some reason, I remembered a birthday of my bereavement group friend Liz. For her first birthday alone, she brought her own birthday cake to our after-meeting dinner at a nearby restaurant. It said “Happy Birthday Richard” on it, so she wouldn’t have to give the bakery her own name, but she did it – ordered her own cake, made her own celebration, and regaled us with her story of taking herself to the adult video store for her own present! Liz is five years younger than I, but right then I decided I wanted to be her when I grew up.
    Well, now was my chance. No adult videos or toys for me, but why not throw my own party? I recruited Liz and my friends Susan and Dyann to help organize things, and Connie to put together a photo display. Together we planned it for the first Saturday in January, 2017. (My actual birthday is Dec. 30, but no one wants to do anything between Christmas and New Year’s, so the party was scheduled for the next week.)
    Susan designed the invitation. Dyann went with me to buy party supplies (lending me her credit card because in the stress of the moment I had forgotten mine) and to meet with the caterer. Terry, director of the Baobab Cultural Center, made the venue available. Mel Henderson and Paradigm Shift, my favorite local jazz band, would provide the music. Liz and her new husband Fritz would help at the event. 
    The big question was, would anyone come? I was no longer working, so there were no work colleagues to invite. Many of our old friends had died, or were sick or had moved away. Keeping busy after losing Charlie, I had made a lot of acquaintances, but very few real friends. I was so worried no one would show up —in January? Right after the holidays? And for someone they barely knew? I invited just about everyone in my contact list. 
    The day of the party we lucked out. It had been a snowy winter so far, but that day was clear. Connie ended up not able to come, but her son John delivered the display (with only two mistaken dates – I should have proofread it) and set it up. The flowers and decorations looked great, the Center’s wall art and African items on display gave people interesting things to look at, the band was on time. 
    Susan and Dyann showed people where to put donations to one of the three charities I had picked in lieu of gifts and then joined Liz and Fritz behind the food and drink tables. Terry directed folks to the coat closet and rest room. And of the 90-some invitees, almost every single one turned up! All I had to do was mingle. In fact, there were so many people filling the space that I barely had time to say more than “Hello, so glad you could make it, have a drink” to most of them.
    The jazz was great, the Jamaican food excellent, and after an hour or so we gave the band a break so Terry could say a few words about the Center and I made a little speech – my most un-favorite thing. But I was so high on all these people showing up and clearly enjoying themselves that it was actually fun. In the pictures I am glowing like a bride.
    I made the appropriate thank you’s and mentioned all the groups (I hope) that were there: 

    • my bereavement support group, pool buddies, cohousing community, Mah Jongg group, theatre-going gang
    • Dr. Alice Young, a beloved former co-worker from the City School District back in the 70s, on the arm of her son Rodney, a former professional colleague
    • my writers group, peer counselors, an old friend who brought balloons from my sibs
    • old 19th Ward friends, a few friends of Charlie’s and mine from the 60s, including our last zebra-couple friends Keith and Eva
    • even three members of Charlie’s Cleveland family, who had gotten up at 4 am to catch Amtrak so they wouldn’t have to drive through the blizzard that had just hit Buffalo. 

    It was great to see them all, and by all accounts later, a huge success for everyone. (And we received almost $1,000 for my charities.)
    I was on a high for days after. And a little over a week later, I realized…something had shifted. My brain felt different. Ever since Charlie died, I had been navigating all the changes in my life through a fog, but now, all of a sudden, I had my normal adult brain back. And it was something about that party and that roomful of people showing up that did it. I still had all the anger issues that showed up after his death – still do – but at least I felt more like myself again. I could make it through whatever came next. My leap of faith had paid off.


    ―v. 2 1.4.22

    • Kit Dwyer
      Posted January 5, 2022 at 4:52 pm

      An amazing turn out and result of your leap of faith, LIz. You followed through on your ideas and trusted the love of people in your new stage of life. I loved your observation that you were “glowing like a bride”. Love concurs all fears, and anger. I hope you keep tapping in to love.

  • Kit Dwyer
    Posted January 5, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    One hot summer day, when I was in the 7th grade, about 12 years old or so, I was playing outside in an orange tree grove near my new home in California. About 6 other kids from my new neighborhood had allowed me to join them in play. We didn’t know each other well at all and I was nervous but excited to run around with them.   We pretended all sorts of things, dodging in an out of the endless rows of trees, chasing jack rabbits, picking up sticks, and playing tag and stuff like that.
    Suddenly, I looked up and saw two of the boys had somehow gotten to the top a huge hill of dirt in front of me. I didn’t see how they had gotten up there. I saw that the dirt on the hill was very loose, and it looked very steep going up about 20 feet (I’m guessing).
    “The railroad tracks are up here!”  one boy yelled to the rest of us below.  “Come on up and see! Let’s lay a penny on the track and watch it gets squished!”
    The other girls in the group pushed his pleading aside with outstretched arms and turned to walk away They were going to ignore the boys and give up. 
    “Awe, you’re just a bunch of sissies!” The boys yelled down.
     I felt a great rush of adrenaline fill my body. I wanted to show I was as strong as any boy my age was, and that I could climb that hill if I wanted to. The other girls said, “You can’t get up there!  It’s too tall!”
    No sooner had they finished saying that to me, then I got this great urge to set my mind on the top of that hill and not take “I can’t” as an option. I reached my hands out in front of me and leaned against the dirt, I grabbed and clawed the dirt. Looking only at my hands. I dug the toes of my sneakers into the hill and climbed and climbed and climbed. I didn’t stop to even take a breath but skedaddled right up that hill as if I were a chimpanzee going after a bunch of outstretched bananas. Walla! I did it! In just those few seconds it took me to get up to the tracks, the other children’s jaws dropped open.
    “That was great!” One of the boys said to me. “You really know how to climb! Tom and I just went down to that bridge over there to get up here.” He pointed to a cross-member of smaller dirt hills a few hundred yards away, that I had not seen.   “I didn’t think anyone could come straight up that hill.”
    “I just put my mind to it and did it!” I said, kind of astounded that it had worked.  Unlike a lady should, I now had dirt under my fingernails and sweat on my forehead, but I felt good!
    From then on, I was invited to all the group activities with kids in our neighborhood, and I was confident enough to partake in summer plays they put on in the little theatre, I also attended a pre-teen birthday dance party even though I didn’t know how to dance.
    That hill effort and the result sticks as a thing in my mind that tells me, no matter what seems impossible, if I am determined and focused enough, there is a chance I can make it happen.
    We did indeed put coins on the tracks and go back down the hill into the orchard to watch the trains roll over them. Then it was back up the hill to retrieve our prizes. The girls never did get any smooshed coins. Except for me!

    • Linda L. Peterson
      Posted January 6, 2022 at 12:16 pm

      Loved this story! Took me back to my childhood and some of the adventures and my sometimes cowardice.

    • Liz
      Posted January 9, 2022 at 7:49 pm

      good for you!

  • Linda L. Peterson
    Posted January 6, 2022 at 9:56 am

    Although I can’t say I believe my January piece is the best I’ve ever written, I do have to say the time spent with Jackie and Dar was most enjoyable! I’m going to post my writing for that night first, then, at Dar’s urging, Ill share with you a poem I wrote, entered, and placed in a contest a few weeks ago. Here goes:
    I was hired by A.G.E.(Assisting Glenville’s Elders in my sixties.
    I took the job after having participated in Farmers Market for quite a few years.
    This would prove to be quite a change of pace from what I had been used to: From working twelve-hour days twice a week in preparation for a three-hour market to this job that would be a solid twenty hours a week doing clerical work.
    In this capacity, I would be lining up appointments, doing accounting, arranging, preparing for and executing fundraisers, as well as performing a sundry of other duties.
    But first, I had to get hired.
    I wasn’t at all sure this would happen. The closest thing I had come to a job like this was the six years I’d spent some time ago doing data processing.
    But I loved older people. I had to give it a try.
    So, I did the interview in front of A.G.E.’s board of directors.
    I learned within a few days I had the job.
    The board was impressed that I knew Excel and could set up an accounting program. They also liked the fact that I had a background in Home Health.
    My first days we spent acquainting myself with the office, setting up my system for keeping track of our clients and their needs, as well as keeping track of donations and expenses of our office.
    Although I was supposed to be the sole employee of this office, I got used to our chore people and Meals on Wheels drivers stopping in, as well as my job coach dropping in for a chat or to teach me grant-writing.
    Before long, I found myself neck-deep in planning a fund-raising tea. I was assisted in this by the board.
    I was also kept busy arranging rides for our clients, organizing Meals on Wheels deliveries, doing banking and accounting.
    I loved the interaction between the clients, the board, and our volunteers.
    But the organization was not to last. After two years of operation, due to lack of funding and community support, A.G.E. closed its doors forever.
    After quite a few years after that closure, I still get an occasional call inquiring about Meals on Wheels.

    And now for the poem…
    If I Were a Car
    If I were a car, my owner would junk me,
    My headlights are dim, my fenders are funk.
    My rusty pipes leak, my whole frame creaks.
    My engine wheezes, every joint freezes.
    My timing chain is off, I sputter when I cough.
    And don’t get me started on what my exhaust is capable of.
    My alignment is poor, my walk sometimes makes me sore.
    But I know I’ll get by with regular doses of pain meds and rubs.
    And it never hurts to have a good soak in the tub.
    Just give me some time to get out of my chair,
    As soon as my parts want to move, I’ll dare
    to start moving again and you’ll see,
    That old bucket of rust moving past you is me!

    • Liz
      Posted January 9, 2022 at 7:48 pm

      good for you for taking on the job challenge, Linda. Love the poem!

    • Kit Dwyer
      Posted January 10, 2022 at 11:14 am

      I like your story, Linda. It reminds me of all the things that turn out differently than we originally saw them on the surface. So many activities and lives are touched by a few decisions. Your poem had me chuckling! Your poem would be great for any car club newsletter or magazine. If you publish it, I’d love to be able to share it!

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