Part 2: In San Clemente, California, in an idyllic setting overlooking the Pacific Ocean and historic fisherman’s pier, Shelley Graner and Jacob Singleton made the commitment on Saturday, March 26, 2022, to spend the rest of their lives together. He is my son. She is the daughter I always wished for. Dreams do come true! The weather was perfect on this stretch of coast likened to the Mediterranean Sea. (Mediterranean-type ecosystems (MTEs), with their characteristic and unique climatic regimes of mild wet winters and warm and dry summers, occur in just five regions of the world: California; Central Chile; the Mediterranean Basin; the Cape Region of South Africa; and Southwestern and South Australia.) The marine layer did not roll in to shroud us in fog. The sun shined and guests gathered to celebrate. Indeed, we did dance the night away.
It’s days later and I still get teary-eyed remembering these moments when they said their vows and embraced. I was also overcome by the reunion of family and friends, many, who I haven’t seen in over 30 years. Jacob’s first cousin Jennifer came from Scotland; his aunt and uncle and cousin Sarah came from the East Coast; Mary and her husband from Chicago. Best Man Patrick has been a lifelong friend since when Jacob was six months old and Patrick was 14 months growing up together in South Bend, Indiana. Elementary and high school friends came to celebrate, as did college fraternity brothers and work colleagues. Our Oaxaca family was well-represented by Eric, Elsa, Santiago, Janet and Omar. Karen and I raised our boys together, hers an infant, mine four years older. We have known each other for 44 years. My brother Fred played oboe with his violinist daughter Becca.
Blessings are many. I have embraced and been embraced by Shelley’s mother Holly, who is a generous, kind and loving person. Her family is as close as mine. Our children have the extended love and caring from in-laws who know what it means to be generous, caring, gracious and emotionally competent. Shelley, too, was nurtured by family: sister Joanne, aunts and uncles, longtime friends like Sheila and Laura.
Today, after more than a year of planning, the newlyweds are in Roatan, an amazing Caribbean island off the coast of Honduras, taking a well-deserved rest. I’m in Santa Cruz, California, with my sister and brother-in-law for the coming week, until I return to New Mexico.
For this wedding, Oaxaca was well-represented: my indigo and native coyuchi cotton huipil was woven in Pinotepa de Don Luis by textile artisan Sebastiana Guzman. It’s all good.
This is Part 1. My son Jacob Singleton is getting married late this afternoon in San Clemente, California. His bride is Shelley Graner and I love her. I also love her mom and family. It’s possibly nearly perfect. It’s 9:00 am here now on the Pacific Coast. My natal family with their spouses and children are together in a shared living space a block from the wedding. We are content together.
After a travel day of mishaps, destination Oaxaca to Tijuana, I spent the night in San Diego with dear friends and took the train the next morning north along the coast. We have been celebrating ever since!
I’m overcome with emotions of being with extended family and friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in over 25 years — my son’s first cousins who came from Scotland, Chicago and Washington, DC, his elementary school and college buddies who I knew well. My Oaxaca family is here, too — Eric Chavez Santiago, his wife Elsa, son Santiago, sister Janet and brother Omar. My dear friends Karen and Steve, who I’ve known for 44 years (we raised our boys together) and are my Taos neighbors now are with us.
It couldn’t be better.
Last night, I woke up at 2 am in tears overwhelmed by the emotional impact of this event — life affirming and meaningful. So much so, I needed to share this despite the fact that it has little to do with Oaxaca.
Saturday, April 4, 2020–I’ve been here for over three weeks. Jacob and I have been in quarantine since Sunday, March 29. We will be free on Sunday, April 12. That is, if we continue to show no coronavirus symptoms. So far, so good. How and why?
This virus is spreading like wildfire. Much closer than six degrees of separation. More like, one or two degrees of separation. Let’s just say that someone close to us may have been exposed. May have is the operative word here. The one who may have been the transmitter showed suspected symptoms but fully recovered after a three-day series of antibiotics. Is it coronavirus? Who knows? They weren’t going to waste a test on the 12-year old without him presenting with severe respiratory breathing difficulties.
Meanwhile, we aren’t taking any chances, so we are in isolation, me and Jacob, the someone close to us, and the other someones close to this person.
Let’s go back to What does free on Sunday, April 12 mean? Just in time for Easter? Despite misguided national direction, not science, services for the masses inside a church are just not going to happen. Just in time for Passover? Not around a Seder table in real time, for sure.
I have begged my son to be let out to make a quick sweep through Ralph’s supermarket or CVS Pharmacy, just for the social connection [before we went into quarantine]. No, mom, he said. I am obedient. And, I know how to grouse. Please note: This is not a bird.
For now, my interaction is virtual. Likely yours is, too. I’m visiting with: Ralph’s. Amazon. INDIO for incense. MINNA for home goods. Office Depot. eBay. QVC. The Sock Maker by Melanie Koenig. Face masks from Hikawa Studio LLC. Hi, how are you doing today?
I need FOOD. The delivery of FOOD to the front door. Perishables (like steak and cottage cheese and almond yogurt and lettuce. Yes, God, please, something green.) A book: Bless Me, Ultima. A Leonard Baskin Haggadah (we will use rice crackers for matzo, salsa for charoset). A microwave oven to replace the one I broke on Day Four with fastest delivery from QVC. A printer for mailing labels. Fitbit batteries. Jewelry making supplies (stay tuned).
And, of course, to improve the aesthetic of a bachelor pad, cozy sofa pillows and a faux wicker side table for the deck (ordered with bachelor review and agreement, lest his mother take over).
My North Carolina girlfriends are having a standing weekly cocktail hour. In the age of social distancing, we are learning a new form of relationship, five of us on-screen, each a minuscule square, drink in hand, each taking a turn at the wheel, so to speak. (I’m rationing my mezcal.)
Sometimes, it feels like we need a moderator! It’s never like that in real life. But this is real time, if not real life. The rules of social engagement are changing. We are learning how to navigate a virtual world that is pioneering. En masse, we yearn for burgers together at Alley 26 and ramen at Dashi.
What are we learning from this?
For me, being on-screen with friends and family is a privilege, a luxury, because we have access to technology. But, it does not substitute for human, face-to-face interaction, a hug or a kiss, the comfort of being close.
What do you think? How are you coping with isolation and distancing? How will this change us?
Back to, What does free on Sunday, April 12 mean? We are practicing the ritual of isolation. I am getting used to it now. Not much will change. Jacob will return to seeing his girlfriend. I may buy a plane ticket soon to get to North Carolina in mid-May — if, the virus outbreak there has flattened like it has here in California because of early social distancing and face covering mandates. Thank you, Governor Newsom!
Mostly written Saturday, March 21, 2020 — We are all likely in the same circumstances. If we aren’t, well, we should be. Physical isolation is necessary … and difficult. Here, in Southern California, where I’ve been for over a week with my son, I have no real time social contact other than with him, an occasional visit with his girlfriend Shelley (who is clean), and a weekly invitation from her mother Holly to come to dinner. Holly has had no contact with anyone other than Shelley this week. I have to assume she is clean, too. Yes?
Governor Gavin Newsome was the first to order Stay at Home. This is why I’m happy to be in California now. There is strong leadership here. When I arrived, my plan was to continue on to Durham, NC, for a while. Life changes fast.
Today, I went for a 10K step walk in the wetlands along the Pacific Ocean. The trails were busier than last weekend. I actually had to stop and ask people to maintain a six-foot distance from me, move into single file. I moved off the trail regularly so others could pass. No one did the same for me. One guy joked that he was only five feet away. I said, Not funny. Next time, earlier and not on weekends!
Saturday, March 21, 2020, my friend Winn is reporting from Oaxaca:
“Oaxaca grows quieter every day. Yesterday, I strolled my ‘hood’ just to get out of my house for a while, to see who’s still out and about, which restaurants, stores, and coffee spots remain open. Lo and behold, a wedding in the church! The same vendors awaiting the wedding party with tamales and jugos [juice]. The city officials have mandated no gatherings, and police will politely ask any groups to simply go home. I’ll go to the park tomorrow morning, but don’t expect to find my tai chi pals there. I do my 10-second breath test and check my temperature every day, and check in with neighbor and friends also holed up at home. This quiet solitude is both welcome and nerve-wracking. Even if I decided to just go home [to New Mexico], the travel itself is now a big obstacle. Thank goodness for WhatsApp calls, Netflix, and eBooks. Just finished bingeing Money Heist, and started a good book.”
I’m looking for Reporters from Oaxaca to include a personal take on what you observe. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We went to the market. That is, Jacob went food shopping and I waited at the far end of the parking lot on a bench, face to the sun waiting for the 10 a.m. pharmacy opening. But, I needed to pick up an Rx transferred from NC, plus, you know: blue shampoo for my platinum hair, Biotin, Tylenol PM, soap-free face wash, toothpaste. Usually I ride in the car where I wait. Like being on House Arrest. He’s protective. He won’t let me go in.
At home, I sprayed all this with isopropyl alcohol, along with six wine bottles, two lemonade jugs, three jars of pasta sauce, bags of pretzels and chips, cleaning sponges, olive oil and ground ginger. Everything someone else would have touched. All the fresh fruit and vegetables soaked for 30-minutes in Microdyne colloidal silver. [Read HERE about disinfecting food. It’s not just for Mexico anymore.] There still was no TP. We are getting close to using paper napkins and reverting to disposal Mexican style — in a receptacle by the side of the toilet.
Across the back parking lot, the neighbors are on Day Two of a three-day estate sale. There are estates here, just not in this neighborhood. It’s Orange County, which only recently turned Blue, sort of. Lots of Trumpets live here who still believe the world is flat. Looking out the dining room window I see a push lawn mower, discolored upholstery foam, spindly lamps with gold fringed shades a la Marie Antoinette, a lonely black office chair with sunken seat cushion, plastic storage bins that need a good 409 cleaning, a turkey fryer, assorted boxes of used clothes. I didn’t see anyone pull out their hand sanitizer.
The chicken soup is on the stove, simmering. Jacob went to Shelley’s on an overnight. I’m feeding the cat and will figure out the Direct TV wand to either watch a movie or get more news. I’m certain I will hear a regurgitation of the lack of Washington leadership. Did I say it? We still have no toilet paper.
Every time I cough, I wonder. I’m hoping my sniffles and occasional cough are seasonal allergies. There are no thermometers to be had. So far, no fever.
Jacob and I have talked about which hospital to take me to if I get sick. He researched it and sent me a link. We all need an Contingency Plan.
How are we coping? Living online. Using Zoom. A daily ritual with my sister.
Our social connection is the Internet. In addition to Zoom, I’m using FaceTime, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and email (last resort).
Thirty years ago, I started following Sherry Turkle, sociologist and psychologist, when she got her MIT computer science department appointment to study and teach about the human factors of technology.
Here’s a article in Politico about our dystopian world and what all this social isolation translates to how we live our lives next, in which Sherry Turkle is one of the experts quoted.
Get out and walk!
Sunday Morning News Flash: Jacob just walked in with a 12-pack of Cottonelle he bought at Target. Gold. Un milagro!
These are strange and perilous times. There lurks a deadly disease for some of us who are older than age 60, that is compounded by any underlying health issues that suppress immune systems.
I am in almost self-imposed isolation, sequestered with my 46-year old son Jacob in his Huntington Beach, California, one-bedroom apartment. He is generous. I get his bed. He’s on the blow-up in the LR. I am practicing how to be a good guest (this is like yoga, the more you do it, the better you get) and he is a loving off-spring.
How do we pass the time together? Respecting quiet. Working from home. Watching Netflix. Talking (a novel idea) about life and feelings. Just being.
We were invited to dinner at Holly’s house in Long Beach last night. Holly is Shelley’s mom. Shelley is Jacob’s girlfriend. The date was set several weeks ago. (Sidebar: After a 30-minute discussion about whether to go out to dinner at a restaurant on Saturday night, we decided to hunker down and cook at home. Social distancing is driving our lives.)
So, the opportunity to go to Long Beach is a welcome one and we go. I think I’m the only one who is the potential hot-potato, since I flew on an airplane last Thursday! But Holly went shopping at Ralph’s, so who knows.
We greet each other as if all was almost normal. No hugs. Elbow bumps and big smiles. (I absented to wash my hands in the bathroom several times taking extra precautions and counting to 20 twice.) Gin and tonics around the coffee table, nibbles of steamed shrimp and dipping sauce (except we are learning to take a spoon and put the sauce on a plate instead of dipping and re-dipping — but what about that pesky common spoon handle?).
Settling in with a good drink and leaning back on the cozy sofa, Holly presents each of us with a gift in honor of St. Patrick’s Day: a roll of toilet paper tied with a green bow. Now, this is love!
We eat corned beef, cabbage, boiled potatoes. We drink wine. We talk about future travel. I bring my favorite gluten-free dessert made earlier in the day: nicuatole. All seems almost normal.
I am scheduled to fly to North Carolina on March 24, but as we know all things are fluid and changing minute-by-minute. Perhaps I’ll stay here a while longer. Who knows?
Stay healthy. Stay safe.
P.S. Yesterday, the California governor officially declared all bars closed. So happy I brought three bottles of mezcal with me from Oaxaca. Jacob is doing a beer run later and will work from home. We are cozy.
P.P.S. This is allergy season. I’m monitoring every sniffle and cough. I touch my forehead. Do I have a fever? Do I have it or is this a normal reaction to spring? I imagine you may be out there doing the same thing.
What is a Study Tour: Our programs are designed as learning experiences, and as such we talk with weavers about how and why they create, what is meaningful to them in their designs, the ancient history of patterning and design, use of color, tradition and innovation, values and cultural continuity, and the social context within which they work. First and foremost, we are educators. Norma worked in top US universities for over 35 years and Eric founded the education department at Oaxaca’s textile museum. Our interest is in creating connection and artisan economic development.
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Dye Master Dolores Santiago Arrellanas with son Omar Chavez Santiago, weaver and dyer, Fey y Lola Rugs, Teotitlan del Valle