Letter From Home “The Dryer Is Empty!” 2/23/21

The past year was the most challenging of our lifetime. I can attest that at this home we were very pleased, due to the pandemic and harsh politics, to turn the calendar and start 2021. But then came January 6th which was dreadful.  The bitter cold seemed unforgiving with its duration. The pacing of the vaccines has caused consternation. While I am an optimistic person by nature it is not difficult to understand why there are times when I need to reach out for the things in life which make for a lifting of the spirit.

The other day in the midst of just random routine household tasks James shouted, “The dryer is empty!” I ran to the place where it seemed someone had absconded with our clothes to find my better half smiling as he placed the wet clothes from the washer into the other machine. “I can not recall the last time the washer was to be emptied and the dryer was not full.”

And we laughed.

That night James made the account his daily written record for something positive and amusing. Since January 1st he has used a Smithsonian Engagement Calendar to put in writing a daily uplifting moment that occurred in our lives.  The written summary now includes such nuggets as an eagle sitting serenely in a neighbor’s tree, a 10 month-old who climbed up on a low-rising rock wall on our property while looking like King of his world, or how we opened a door and the bitter cold air turned our indoor air to steam as it drifted outside…which made opening and closing the door a few more times essential! 

The point of this daily written exercise is to take notice of the small things in life that do go according to plan, or the events that just materialize in front of our eyes and create smiles. With the pandemic still in stride across the nation, there will doubtless be times when looking back on past entries will be required to put a bit of a lift in our steps.

Each day there are myriad examples of worthy moments on which to reflect and smile. Today, the first outside enjoyment of a cup of coffee for 2021 occurred as the temperature reached 50 degrees on our balcony. I had removed large chunks of snow that were compacted there only yesterday and the dropping of them over the edge was cathartic as they crashed and obliterated upon impact. Overnight the melting and drying continued to the point that James sat with his tea, while I drank java as the sun warmed us. The outdoor season has started!

Two weeks ago as the sun was setting and the sky was pinkish-orange I looked out towards the State Capitol. I had looked that way countless times from our top floor but it was only that day when I stopped and just stared as the fading light of day was visible through the windows at the top of the dome. For me, it was an impressive sight. And I just enjoyed it as the light dimmed and ebbed away.

As we move through this year the national and state headlines of the day will be daunting at times. On a personal level, the urge to get back to what was our routines prior to the virus will surely increase as the sun climbs higher in the sky. But it is our determination to see those little moments that exist every day around us and take note of them. We may not have the same outings and social gatherings of the kind we engaged in two years ago but we plan to have as many smiles and reasons to laugh.

And so it goes.

Empathy Returns To White House: President Biden Is The Man For The Moment

Historians often research if an elected official finds the moment demanding leadership, or does the moment find the person in the office. Whichever way one wishes to view President Biden there is one thing crystal clear as the pandemic claimed the 500,000 life in our nation. We now have a president with empathy and the emotional ability to connect with the citizenry. Something severely lacking over the past four years.

On Monday Biden delivered the most touching, sincere, and somber address to a nation that was very much needing words of comfort. He was able to do this because of his personal experiences, along with his character which is shaped to lean into the pain and suffering of others and try to assist. There was surely not a dry eye in the land as he looked squarely into the camera and let the families of COVID victims know that he too knew the full gut-punch of losing family members.

I often lamented the total lack of empathy in Donald Trump and how it undermined the role of a modern-day president. Some viewed that as just another partisan slam on my part. It was not, of course, as in my view of government and our democracy I know the collective ability of the citizens to connect and feel for one another is an absolute necessity in a liberal pluralist society. My views about the role of a leader are shaped, in part, by the understanding and wisdom of my civics teachers those many decades ago.

Months ago I heard a deeply moving interview on National Public Radio about the sadness at not being able to have funerals and burials that are normally associated with death due to the pandemic. As I listened to the words and the tone of the delivery from Biden it was so obvious that he not only well-understood death and loss, but that there also needs to be a sense of closure that most of the COVID families were not allowed to experience. Though the words and occasion yesterday were not meant as a memorial service or formal event I suspect that families found comfort and some solace in the national moment of remembrance. That type of national moment is very important.

We often do not know, as a nation, what we have lost until it is found again. President Biden has returned empathy to the White House. Let us never again elect anyone without that needed trait.

Where We Still Are With COVID–And Why

Sometimes no words are needed. Thanks to a perfectly created editorial cartoon.