What to Wear (to an Inauguration)

Every morning when I wake up, my first thoughts lie with making a cup of coffee, not on what to wear that day.  This is a reversal from the many years of a working life, where the pace of the early morning was always fast and the day’s clothing might be decided and perhaps even laid out the night before. These days, while staying at home, the choices about what to wear have become much easier.  I have yoga pants, sweatpants, hiking pants, tights, and an assortment of shirts, long-sleeved athletic tees, sweatshirts, and sweaters.  Whether…

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Pandemic Puppies and Other Pets
Napoleon, Lilah, Cassidy and Roxie

Pandemic Puppies and Other Pets

Relief from stress is never far away when aided by the recent rise of pandemic puppies and other pets.  A few chewed shoes or slippers, a few accidents on the new carpet become nothing as these puppies become part of the family.  Until a few years ago, Napoleon, a shaggy, sandy little ball of fluff, was the only dog on the block.  True to his name, he ruled his small cul-de-sac, roaming from house to house, yard to yard, smelling the flowers and the scents left behind by other dogs, and occasionally, skunks or raccoons.  But…

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Politics and Pandemic

Land's End, San Francisco At last, there is good news on the horizon, a promise that a year dominated by politics and pandemic will soon be over.   Politics never go away, but hopefully, the days will become calmer now that the November presidential election is finally over and a new administration is on the horizon.   With two new vaccines rolling out, there also is hope that the pandemic will subside in the first half of 2021.  Election years are always difficult, but 2020 was a doozy.  It was a brutal year in almost every way possible. …

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Dear Family & Friends: A Holiday Letter by Eileen Shields

Dear Family & Friends, Yes, you read that right. This is a “Dear Family & Friends” holiday letter.  Before I get into the nits and grits that tells you all about the wonder that is me, I thought I should do a bit of research about how best to approach these broad swinging missives.  Surely there are rules laid down for writing one all-encompassing letter to Everyone I Know.  I’m not quite sure what has possessed me to undertake this wholesale approach to communication and it remains a bit of a mystery of how I actually…

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For the Price of a Stamp

For the price of a stamp (Global International, $1.25), I can send a letter or card to my cousins in Switzerland and Canada.  The 2020 Global stamp features a beautiful chrysanthemum.  For the price of a stamp (Forever, domestic, 55 cents), I can send a note, thank you, condolences, and other messages to anyone in the country.  For the price of a stamp, I can honor history, celebrate musicians, view gardens, national parks, and other landscapes.  For the price of a stamp, I can acquire a beautiful piece of art.  For the price of a stamp…

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New Threats to the U.S. Postal Service
Americans rely on mail delivery for letters, packages, checks, medications and more

New Threats to the U.S. Postal Service

Americans rely on timely mail delivery for letters, packages, checks, medications and more New threats to the U.S. Postal Service now challenge this essential service.   Ongoing budget troubles have been further exacerbated by the pandemic and a precipitous drop in the use of first class mail.  Add to that a new Postmaster General, a political appointee, who is making sweeping changes that reduce services, has endangered the ability of the Postal Service to manage mail-in voting Louis DeJoy, a businessman and major fundraiser for President Trump, took over the duties of Postmaster General on June 15,…

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The End of Silence: Vote!

San Francisco Botanical Gardens July 2020 Following five months of lock down due to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, we have come to the end of silence.  That initial peace, the joyful upside to our early stay-at-home directives, has been shattered by the sounds of returning activity, as well as increased frustration and tension.   Shelter in place jokes April 2020 When first sheltering in place, the streets were eerily quiet, with barely a car in sight.   Many streets closed in San Francisco to facilitate social distancing for walkers, skateboarders, and bicyclists.  All but the most essential…

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Time to Write a Letter

Time to Write a Letter: Mailboxes, Sausalito, CA. Photo by Tibby Storey While most of us are still staying at home, helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19, isn’t it time to write a letter?  Teleworking requires concentration and organization.  Job-hunting, caring for children without the usual support systems, grocery shopping and cooking at home, and fitting in time for exercise can be exhausting.  But when you are taking a break, consider using the time to write a letter.  It is good practice for your writing skills, provides an alternative to electronic communications, and a letter…

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Financial Woe for the USPS

Flag Act of 1818 The COVID-19 pandemic has been wreaking havoc throughout the world, and part of the fallout is financial woe for the USPS.  A significant reduction in advertising by mail and a further steep decline of first-class business and personal correspondence have resulted in a 30% drop in mail volume, putting the U.S. Postal Service at risk.  The postal service estimates that it will run out of operational funds by September 2020, if not sooner. No federal dollars are allocated to the United States Postal Service.  Operations are funded by the sale of stamps…

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The Chain Letter Has Returned

A grammatically challenged chain letter invites poetry contributions In a recent two-week period, I received six chain letter invitations.  Other than one overlap, each was from a person unrelated to the others.  Three of them were called “Quarantine Recipes.”  The other three, in various forms, were about passing along an inspirational quote, poem, thought, or song.  Each is structured in a short pyramid, e.g. send the requested item to the person at the top of the list, remove their name, add your name to the bottom, and repeat the request to 10 (or 20) additional, hopefully…

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