David and Marcy (Aswad) Greenfield
Being grandparents in 2020 is an uncommon challenge, just like everything else. When we learned that our youngest daughter was set to have her baby on April 14, just when projections showed COVID topping the charts, we were distressed. The news predicted that hospitals around the country were going to be overwhelmed and chaotic, with not enough equipment or personnel. How would the UVM Medical Center in Burlington be able to cope? Fortunately Vermont handled the pandemic in exemplary fashion and the numbers never got out of control here. Our granddaughter Porter’s birth went smoothly and she is now a happy, cherubic little creature with no idea that the world around her is so precarious. But she will always have a reminder. There is a photo I have tucked aside showing Marcy and me looking through a glinting window on our daughter’s deck trying to see inside and get a first look at our granddaughter. It sums up the strange era we live in. I hope one day she sees it and gets some insight on what it must have been like before vaccines came out and eliminated the virus that set everything on such a tilt.
First, a note on COVID – sorry if the first part is political:
I could not be more disappointed in Trump and his administration. They have bungled the COVID response from day one and each day the country suffers more. Why he continues to demonstrate everything wrong (large gatherings, no masks) about how to fight the pandemic is absolutely criminal. He needs to be gone in November.
I am a technical writer (yup, still working) for a roofing products manufacturer in Portland. I have been working remotely since early March and with our business deemed essential, I have not suffered a layoff, furlough, or reduction in pay. With COVID conditions still a threat, we expect to be working from home for the foreseeable future.
Second, the fires:
One of the biggest adjustments I had to make in moving west in 1978 was the reality of large forest fires occurring every year. This area of the country has some of the last great evergreen forests and fires are part of that. This year is different, however. Fires are more numerous in number and intensity. They are so big, they can swallow entire towns. In southern Oregon, the towns of Phoenix and Talent were wiped out recently as 1,600 homes were destroyed. Flattened. Burned to the ground.
Portland has always been sheltered from the worse of conditions, but just yesterday (Sept. 10) two fires joined to the southeast of us and now threaten Portland suburbs. My wife and I live in the city so we’re not directly threatened by fire, but the air quality (and smell) is horrible, the sky so foggy you can stare directly at the sun and watch it change colors as the hours pass.
We keep our windows closed and only go outside for brief periods, but we’re the lucky ones. We know the worst of this will pass fairly soon for us, but it’s the desperate plight of so many fellow Oregonians we worry about.
Kevin Hebert (married Rosemary St. George)
I just finished reading Horatio’s Drive by Dayton Duncan about the first transcontinental drive in an automobile. Horatio Nelson Jackson, a retired doctor from Burlington, VT was the first person to accomplish this feat in 1903. What was particularly interesting about this achievement was that it was a near spontaneous event. Jackson was in attendance at a private club in California in May of 1903 and accepted a fifty dollar bet that someone could successfully drive across country in a horseless carriage. Without any corporate sponsorship, he purchased a used Winton automobile, recruited a bicycle mechanic (Seawell Crocker) and set off on this intrepid journey which took almost three months to finish. There were no paved roads, reliable maps, signs, AAA, or even a MOTEL 6 at that time! Along the way he and his co-driver/mechanic had to patch and replace tires, overcome every manner of breakdown imaginable, contend with thousands of curious onlookers who had never seen an automobile before he appeared in their town, desert sands and rivers that “swallowed” his car, which he named “VERMONT”. On one day alone, he and Crocker had to use a block and tackle eighteen times to free the stuck car. Ken Burns has made a documentary on this subject.
It has been a challenge to stay active during this pandemic. Nancy and I retired to Cape Cod in 2015. Fortunately we live in a great place to do things outdoors. We live in the town of Eastham on the outer Cape and are 1/4 mile from the Cape Cod Rail Trail, and less than 2 miles to bayside and Oceanside beaches. Nancy and I bike most days in early morning. I also play pickleball which can be played year round here. Winter of course is indoors at a local elementary school gym. Nancy and I also belong to a hiking club that does Fall through spring hikes all over the Cape one day a week.
One thing I do miss is not being able to do my volunteer job at the Cape Cod National Seashore. I have been doing this for about five years now, one day a week year round. It is great fun to meet visitors from all over the US and abroad. I usually man the help desk and answer questions about the park which has five ocean beaches, historic sites, lighthouses, as well as hiking trails and bike trails. I get to work with some wonderful park rangers in this volunteer job.
The Cape is surprisingly pretty busy this summer in spite of the virus. You just have to be cautious and keep socially distanced where ever you are.
Claudia Wolvington – in Italy
I have to admit it’s been pretty quiet. My chamber music has been on hold for months now, but I continue to play the viola, enjoying the never-ending study of Bach solo suites, sonatas and partitas.
We have the good fortune to live isolated in the countryside, so a fair amount of time has been dedicated to outdoor work and hiking through the woods with our dogs AND cats!
Sadly, I have not been able to visit my very elderly parents in person, but, grateful for modern technology, have had regular on-line chats with them and my siblings in VT-much better than nothing!
There are no church services at St. Paul’s Cathedral now. I have been part of the adult choir for past 25 years. The choir is recording some hymns for the Sunday Zoom service, using high-tech gear. The choir is an integral part of the service so people really appreciate this effort. I miss browsing the book shelves at the library. I see my brother Tom who lives in Shelburne. At my condo, we have backyard barbecues with the neighbors. I’ve been watching a lot of professional golf.
Our previous webmaster, Joe, is off to college. We had to hire a new crew. Lee had a friend in Atlanta who is originally from India and very tech savvy. Prakash said his friend in India, Tarun, could update our website and he would work alongside him. Prakash started to update the site and then in late August, he informed us that Tarun got the virus and was quarantined in a hospital in India, following their protocols. Thankfully Tarun has now recovered and is back updating our website.