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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Staying at Home

Sidewalk messaging How to practice social distancing Staying at home has become the new normal, because we are living in unusual times.  In recent weeks, my only outside activities are a weekly trip to the grocery store, and daily walks, generally close to home.  The air is cleaner, thanks to fewer automobiles on the road, and the Bay Area is getting some much- needed rain.  And the important thing is for everybody to take whatever steps are possible to keep not only themselves, but also those around us, safe in this time of pandemic. In many…

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A Card in the Mail

Let's Celebrate is a newly released stamp by the U.S. Postal Service Whether it be a birth or birthday, a holiday, or the passing of a friend or loved one, life passages are best celebrated by a note or card in the mail. While an email or response on social media may suffice, there is no better way to communicate than a hand-written note or card.  A recent survey by Morning Consult indicates that the U.S. Postal Service is, overall, the most trusted brand in America, ranked highest by Gen X and boomers. So when you…

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Notes for the New Year

The last of the cards and notes for the New Year come in a slow, uneven trickle, soon to be but a memory.  Second to reunions and celebrations with friends and family, these physical notes, photos and greetings are my favorite part of the end of the year rituals, helping me to stay in touch with people who are important to me, both near and far. The post office continues to play an important part in people’s lives, judging by the crowds standing in line to mail packages and letters, either at the automated machines or…

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Backyard Creatures: Urban Wildlife

While living in the heart of a city, backyard creatures are a part of urban life.  The creatures that once inhabited our backyard included feral and domestic cats, gophers, and other illusive pests that ate up the tender stalks of any newly planted vegetables. Years ago, our next-door neighbor’s yard was an overgrown jungle, providing shelter and hiding places for the urban wildlife.  Outdoor cats could be counted on to keep rodents at bay.  Wild visitors included raccoons, skunks, and squirrels.  A family of raccoons once invaded our house by entering through a now defunct cat…

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In the Fog
Fog on Mt. Tamalpais

In the Fog

Fog on Mt. Tamalpais The first time I drove in the fog in San Francisco, I became completely disoriented.  I was visiting one of my college roommates, whose mother lived in a hilly neighborhood in the city – the same neighborhood, in fact, in which I now live.  On Mt. Davidson, the streets curve around the mountain but not over the top. They unexpectedly converge on one another, but not always in a logical fashion.  In short, it is easy to get lost in this neighborhood, especially on a foggy day. That particular day, after driving…

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Country Mouse
Tomales, CA farmhouse

Country Mouse

Tomales, CA farmhouse Although I am an urban dweller, part of me is a country mouse.  A vacation is not necessarily a trip to another city, rich with historic sites, museums, and fine restaurants, but rather a sojourn in a quiet rural destination, preferably one with views, hiking, and a nearby body of water. Recently, we stayed in such a place.  Downtown Tomales (CA), population 204, has a post office, a bakery, a Town Hall, a small grocery, a deli, an antique store, and some real estate offices.  Add in a hotel and a bar/restaurant, and…

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