We live on a common driveway, and our family is good friends with our neighbors. Our kids play together almost every single day, so the isolation has been particularly hard on them. To lighten the mood, we sent our neighbors a “dance challenge”: a dance we made up/stole off YouTube to a funny song that we video-recorded on our phone and sent by text. They responded in kind. We are now in our second round, and the videos are hilarious. They are also so fun for our family: none of us are dancers, but we enjoy the process of creating something new and funny to send to our friends, and love the anticipation of seeing what they will send back.
I’m a mom of two who was just laid off from my job as a healthcare provider. My two kiddos (ages 4 and 7) and I took advantage of the sunshine and our family drew chalk drawings for all the walkers and bikers going by in front of our house (center of Florence).
Also, our four year old just turned four on Wednesday and, since his birthday party was cancelled, other families and his teachers organized a car birthday parade with signs and music.
…It was very sweet. He is telling everyone, “Instead of a party I had a parade.” Maybe that is the type of thing kids will remember some day from all of this.
Singing in the Time of the Coronavirus
As a freelance writer, I’m used to being overwhelmed with loneliness and crippling self doubt when I sit at my desk on a normal workday. But the isolation imposed on much of the world by the coronavirus has my negative thinking on steroids.
In short, I’ve been a major mess ever since I learned I couldn’t be in my office at UMass to do my part-time work as a writing coach—couldn’t come to campus at all for any reason for the indefinite future. Now, nobody’s allowed to go practically anywhere, which isn’t hard to adhere to as there’s almost nowhere to go anyway. At least we can still buy food.
But my kids are freaking out about their mother’s bad habit of gently bending rules, in this case visiting a supermarket whenever I am so inspired because, as they keep reminding me, I’m 68 and I have asthma.
So I’m staying at home, where I live alone, eating weird ancient foods from my freezer and watching my mind go off on too many scary tangents to list here. Suffice it to say I’m scattered, I’m checking the news a million times a day, and I am so lonely I could bust.
On Saturday, hiding my nightgown under my winter coat (who hasn’t spent the day in their pj’s lately, I ask?) I walked over to a neighbor’s house and jumped up and down in her backyard, gesticulating wildly until she saw me through her sliding glass doors.
“You have to come out right now and sing a round with me,” I said. “If you don’t know it, I’m teaching it to you.”
She opened the slider a crack. “Get off my deck,” she said.
I’d crept up its steps in my misery, and was only 5 feet away from her. She’s a physician’s assistant.
I backed down. She stuck her head out. “Maybe,” she said. “I’m in my pj’s.”
“My nightgown is under this coat,” I confessed.
“Oh all right,” she said.
Then somehow the idea bloomed in our brains to invite the entire neighborhood to come out and sing, if we could be six feet apart, that very afternoon.
We did. They did. It felt wonderful. On Sunday we did it again. This time the 12-year-old girls led us through a forced march dance routine they’d choreographed moments before, a four-year-old made requests, a ten-year-old brought his scooter, and a neighbor who is a musician had fabulous suggestions for how to sing more and better.
We’re skipping today, due to snow falling, but tomorrow we’re planning to meet again, six feet apart but in full view of each other.
It’s helping a lot.
Joni Beck Brewer
Our son mailed his brother, his sister and his parents (us!) each a jigsaw puzzle and challenged us to see who could finish first! From California, Colorado and Hadley the competition was fierce, though Mom & Dad were sent a puzzle with extra large pieces (he must think we're getting old.) Not even sure who actually won, but a fun way to keep those connections going.
Joni Beck Brewer
65 (maybe my son was onto something...)
Throughout this page and others, we will be posting haiku submitted to the Montview Neighborhood Listserv.
not a ‘rona fan
sick of the family, ugh
once again, nap time
Furry black humps
huddle at back door…BAH Virus!
We want our Whiskas
What a miraculous Seder we had over Zoom! We had family, friends, and friends of friends from nine states and four time zones. The nearest attender to us was one mile away, the farthest, 3000. The youngest was 25, the oldest 89, with three generations of both Horowitzes and Friedmans. My wife and our younger child put together a wonderful social justice/social distance Haggadah. The last time most of these people gathered together was almost four years ago at my older child's wedding.
We shared food (visually at least), fun, stories, poems, a game, and songs. The technology mostly behaved and despite the goodly number of people, I was able to leave everybody unmuted most of the time.
I am so grateful to be able to feel gathered together with loved ones in community, and grateful that this technology exists and mostly worked well.
Quite amused when my 21 drops of wine for the 10 plagues (10 each for the traditional plagues in Hebrew and English, and 10 more for modern plagues, plus one for covid-19 added on the spot) took the shape of a human profile on my plate.
John Todd and Dorothy Nemetz
The first is from our family Passover Seder Wednesday evening April 8th. Our usual full house of family and friends was replaced by a smaller gathering, each of us in our own homes with a Seder plate, matzoh and traditional food, sharing the reading of the Haggadah as we usually do, via Zoom. Remarkably, it was more intimate than expected as the technology channeled the usual hubbub of individual conversations into a a more focused communal sharing of the evening.
The second is of three good friends enjoying a Zoom cocktail hour - Peter Bigwood, Hugh Heisler and me (aka The Dadz which, as I'm sure you know , are that musical trio featured in a November 2002 Gazette article - also attached - about our fundraising concert at the Iron Horse. We've always taken great pride in the Gazette's assessment of our musical talent as "certainly adequate.")
Finally, attached is a photo of a "socially distanced" neighborhood dance party held on Munroe Street April 4th, reflecting the wonderful ways our neighborhood has pulled together to support each other.
Thank you again making this happen.
The other evening as we prepared to settle in for some online viewing we had an impromptu sing-along. We have a lovely baby grand piano that has sat unused for many years. It had been lovingly played when our children lived at home, but once they moved out it was mostly used for its surface area (books piled on top along with remote controls). Now with both daughters at home (ages 26 and 28) we picked up our ragged Broadway tunes songbooks (from my childhood), a Simon and Garfunkel book with all of their music, and a 1950's Folksong Book and started belting out tunes. I was barely able to play with both hands, so mostly managed with the G clef/right hand. My younger daughter took our her violin and for two hours we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
That night when I got into bed, I was actually able to pick up the novel I had started a week ago. Prior to that, I was unable to read the novel, opting for a graphic novel, which was far easier to get through because of its abundance of pictures with minimal text.
What a great evening! It wasn't planned. It was communal, it was fun, it was relaxing, and brought back memories from my childhood when my father played the piano, and often sang along, while my mother prepared dinner.
Maybe we'll start doing this weekly?
Since the quarantine, my grandma who lives across the street from me, and my cousin, who lives in Oak Park, Illinois, and I have been meeting every week over zoom. We talk about our weeks, we drink tea, and one week we each made rice crispy treats. This week we made art out of toilet paper rolls. We had heard that some people were hoarding toilet paper, so we thought it would be a good statement to make art out of toilet paper rolls. My name is Tovah Boucher. I am 13 and in 7th grade at JFK middle school. I live in Florence.
The Armstrong-Dakai Family
Inspired by a story on social media about a family who did this in Michigan, we put the following sign up yesterday. It’s been delightful to see people inventing silly walks as they go past our house. Our kids get so excited to see folks doing it, and the silly walkers seem to have fun with it too. When they get to the end of the silly walk zone, they seem happier than when they started. It’s been a fun way to feel a connection with our community, in this socially distanced time.
If you want to strut your silly walk, come visit this sidewalk on North street!