Rhode Island – August 2022

September 3rd, 2022

My niece, Jenn, and I drove north to visit our cousin Marie in Westerly, Rhode Island. We had a great time seeing many coastal beaches and eating delicious fresh lobster rolls and just-caught seafood! Our first stop was George’s of Galilee with fabulous views of Block Island Sound.

Point Judith Lighthouse

Watching the sunset on the beach was a community celebration enjoyed by many groups of families and friends. They brought supper and set up tables and chairs to watch the end of the day.

Breakfast at The Cooked Goose in Westerly, Rhode Island was a yummy fun time with fresh goodies!

We drove to Watch Hill and explored the lovely affluent coastal town.

Posing with Ninigret, the “Guardian of Watch Hill”
Flying Horses Carousel, oldest platform carousel in the United States has been operating since 1884.

We went up the hill and walked out to explore East Beach which, according to a sign, was “one of the most beautiful beaches on the eastern seaboard.”

The other attraction in Watch Hill and right above East Beach is Taylor Swift’s impressive house built on top of a high hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean:

The Three Musketeers!

“The Towers” is a historical landmark in Narragansett. The impressive building is a remnant of the Narragansett Pier Casino built in the 1880s. Today The Towers is a venue for public events.

Jenn and I enjoyed delicious lobster rolls for lunch at the Coast Guard House overlooking beautiful Narragansett Bay before driving home.

Home-made ice cream at Brickley’s for dessert

Boston Strong & Vibrant 2022

July 14th, 2022

The last time we went to Boston was in 2013 shortly after the tragic Boston Marathon bombing. The city was shaken by the horrendous act, calling it a “domestic terrorist attack.” Three people died and 264 people were injured. Banners declaring, “Boston Strong!” were posted everywhere in consolation. Now nine years later, the city was bright and sunny and optimistic despite two plus years of the Covid-19 pandemic and confinement.

The Back Bay neighborhood where we stayed was filled with students, joggers, strolling Bostonians, dog walkers, and tourists like us. We came to Boston because I wanted to visit two of my favorite museums: the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Boston Fine Arts. The four hour drive from Westchester to downtown Boston was pleasant and easy.

I had read about the Central Library in Copley Square constructed in 1895 which was full of artwork by Daniel Chester French, John Singer Sargent, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. There are excellent photographs and descriptions of the architecture of the building and interior galleries on the library’s website: www.bpl.org Here are few of my cell-phone photos:

We walked to the famous Boston Public Garden which was established in 1837 as the first public botanical garden in the U.S. The pontoon Swan Boats have been taking people for cruises around the pond since 1877.

The MTA – or Metropolitan Transit Authority – is a fast and reliable network of trains and buses. We took a “T” tram everywhere we wanted to go. Of course, we sang the famous Kingston Trio song, The M.T.A. about the poor man named Charlie who is stuck in the Boston subway system and rides the trains forever! Boston riders call their transit card “The Charlie” in honor of the 1959 song.

Isabella Stewart Gardner had a magnificent Venetian palazzo built to house her incredible art collection.

In 1990, thirteen works of art were stolen from the Museum and never recovered. Empty frames mark the places where the paintings once were. A couple of my favorite works: a Rembrandt self-portrait on the left; John Singer Sargent’s El Jaleo from 1882 on the right:

We had time to take the MTA to Faneuil Hall to walk along the stalls and outdoor tents. A street performer on a pogo stick provided ‘bouncing’ entertainment for a crowd of tourists.

The Boston Fine Arts Museum was a short tram ride away. I wanted to see the J. M. W. Turner retrospective before it closed next weekend. The exhibit was very good, but unfortunately the galleries were so crowded it was difficult to really appreciate the paintings, but I’m glad we went.

There was an interesting exhibit on “real photo postcards.” A large portable camera was invented by Eastman Kodak in 1903 which printed directly on a blank card and made it possible for people to make actual postcards to send to family and friends. It was somewhat like today’s “Instagram” or taking photos with smartphones and sending them out to people. We posed for an iPhone picture:

The BFA museum was like a maze of galleries, and we explored and saw many interesting exhibits:

On our last evening, we walked to the Charles River which separates Boston from Cambridge. We strolled along lively Newbury Street which is lined with restaurants, bars, and trendy shops.

In Memoriam

July 9th, 2022

My brother Bob: February 26, 1948 – June 26, 2022

His wife, Joan: May 2, 1948 – March 14, 2018

Gallivanting to Italy – May 2022

June 27th, 2022

After being stuck at home due to the Covid-19 Pandemic for two years and four months, Jeff and I decided to travel to two of our favorite cities in Italy: Florence and Venice, to celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary. One million Americans have died from the terrible virus since January 2020. We were fully vaccinated and had two booster shots and over 85% of the Italian population was vaccinated. We packed N95 & KN95 masks, plenty of hand sanitizer, packs of wipes, courage, and a dash of moxie.

We flew out of JFK Airport on an overnight flight and arrived at the beautiful city of Florence, Italy on Friday April 28, 2022. For me, it was a great sigh of relief to be traveling again: gallivanting the world; flying far away from home; feeling liberated and being FREE!! Free as a bird soaring in the vast sky!!!

We arrived in Florence on a brilliant crisp sunny spring day and explored the neighborhood around our hotel, the Palazzo Bernini. Covid regulations across Italy required everyone to wear N95 masks indoors. Fortunately for us, recent laws in Italy had relaxed so we didn’t have to wear our masks outdoors.

The hotel was located in the Centro Storico or historic center of the city so we could easily walk to all the important sights we wanted to visit. Florence is dominated by the gigantic Santa Maria del Fiore or “Cathedral of Florence,” simply called “the Duomo.” The church was completed about 1367 and the famous dome was built in 1436. There was always a long line of tourists at the entrance to the cathedral.

May 1st is a national holiday in Italy – Primo Maggio. It’s the Italian Labor Day to celebrate worker’s rights. Outside, at the Piazza Vecchio, there were crowds of people in regional costumes cheering for politicians giving speeches. Major museums and some stores were closed, but we had pre-reserved tickets at the Palazzo Strozzi to see a special exhibit of works by the great Renaissance artist, Donatello.

The Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, is the most famous of the 12 bridges that cross the Arno River. It was built in 1218, and rebuilt in 1345 after major flood damage. During World War II, it was the only bridge that was not bombed by retreating Nazis. Today it’s still lined with small shops selling gold jewelry.

Jeff had read about the best panini sandwiches in Florence, so we were happy to discover that the most popular shop, All’antico Vinaio, was right around the corner from our hotel. There were three separate entrances for the popular sandwich shop on Via Neri and they all had very long lines of local people and tourists from morning until night when they closed. The fresh-made sandwiches were huge and tasty!

One of the smartest things we did was to pre-order reserved tickets online from home for the museums and important sights. We planned to visit one historic site or museum a day, so we could have leisurely days exploring or relaxing as we wanted. One day we had timed-tickets to see the Palazzo Vecchio aka “the old palace.” Built as a fortification, the oldest part of the palazzo dates from the 13th century.

Grand Duke Cosimo de Medici moved into the palace in 1540 and it became the official seat of Medici wealth and power in Florence. Impressive statues decorate the piazza in front of the palace.

The interior of the Palazzo Vecchio is huge and magnificent. A lot of stairs, but definitely worth visiting.

“The Duomo” was just a short walk from the hotel. There are three buildings which make up the cathedral complex: the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, il Campanile (bell tower), and the Baptistery.

The Baptistery was consecrated in 1059 and is one of Florence’s most important religious buildings. The octagonal building was dedicated to St. John the Baptist and served as the city’s cathedral from the 11th century through the 14th century. There was some restoration work going on inside.

The sculptor, Lorenzo Ghiberti, won a competition to design a set of doors for the Baptistery in 1401. The ten bronze panels depict scenes from the New Testament. The doors, which Michelangelo called The Gates of Paradise, are recognized as a major masterpiece of the Early Renaissance.

One day, we found a quiet outdoor restaurant for lunch away from the crowded city center. We enjoyed salad and pizza near Piazza San Marco then continued to Ospedale degli Innocenti. During the 15th century, Filippo Brunelleschi was commissioned by the Wool Guild to design and build the hospital. The orphanage provided care for infants and children for more than five hundred years. On the left side of the loggia there was a window which held a rotating platform onto which unwanted babies were placed and taken safely indoors without mothers having to reveal themselves. This system was used until the hospital closed in 1875. Today the Ospedale is an art museum.

People today with the surname of Innocenti are said to be descendants of those orphaned children.

Later we had a delicious traditional Tuscan dinner at a wonderful little restaurant called Ristorante Il Caminetto. I had ribollita soup and tortellini and Jeff had veal with thin slices of potato with sage. Yum!

Early Wednesday morning we felt our room shaking! The lamps and vases on tabletops vibrated for a few minutes. Troubling because the hotel was a solid ancient stone building. We learned later that an earthquake had occurred about 25 miles outside of Florence. The local people we spoke to were very upset because they said it was a rare occurrence in this part of Italy. There were no aftershocks. After breakfast, we walked over to the famous Uffizi Gallery to see their impressive art collection.

The Uffizi is a wonderful place to see works of the important painters and sculptors: Botticelli, Giotto, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, etc. Later, we stopped to rest and have a snack at the Uffizi’s new outdoor roof-top cafe. Very civilized. After we left the museum, we walked to the Mercato Centrale – the original Central Market. Fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, meats, mushrooms, etc. are located on the first floor and a large multi-ethnic food court takes up the second floor. It’s a lively place for locals to do their shopping.

The second part of the special Donatello exhibit was in the National Museum of the Bargello. The museum is housed in one of the oldest buildings in Florence dating to 1255. Among the treasures in the exhibit were three Davids: an early marble sculpture (1409) and a later (1440) bronze David both created by Donatello and another bronze statue made by Verrocchio who was Donatello’s teacher and mentor. Leonardo Da Vinci was supposed to be the young model for Verrocchio’s David in 1475.

Verrocchio’s David is on the left and Donatello’s bronze David is on the right:

There were always long lines to get into The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, but again we had reserved tickets to see the Santa Reparata Crypt so we entered, literally, by a side door quickly and easily.

Santa Reparata was the name of the original cathedral that stood on that site. The church was named for a 3rd century Catholic martyr. The crypt and the early foundations under the cathedral were very interesting. The interior of the Basilica is quite plain, but, under Brunelleschi’s dome is magnificent.

The Duomo dominates the city of Florence and is visible at the end of many streets from everywhere.

We also visited the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo to see the treasures and original works of art created for the basilica. There was a special exhibit of three Pietas sculpted by Michelangelo.

His Bandini Pieta, on the left, was made between 1547 and 1555 when Michelangelo was in his 70s. It is believed that he sculpted his own image on the top hooded figure. The sculpture on the right is Michelangelo’s famous St. Peter’s Pieta from 1498-1499 completed when he was just 24 years old.

One rainy afternoon, we went to a restaurant that offered small portions of Bistecca Fiorentina. The famous dish is usually served in 2+ pound portions and that’s simply too much food for our senior appetites. We sat outside under umbrellas at Ristorante Natalino and shared a perfectly cooked steak.

One other day, we visited the Basilica di Santa Croce which was completed in 1385. The tombs of Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Rossini, Galileo, Dante, and others, are located inside. There are also three lovely cloisters open to the public. Beyond a side door of the basilica is the Pazzi Chapel, which was designed by Brunelleschi and considered a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture.

On a drizzly Friday afternoon, we walked across one of the bridges over the Arno River to Oltrarno – literally “the other side of the Arno.” This was historically where the craftspeople and workers lived. Today, there are small shops and galleries away from the touristy city-center. When we turned off the main street, we passed a shop where two young women were making custom leather shoes by hand.

Further down the street was the shop of Simone Fiordelisi who is a craftsman of mosaic firoentino or the ancient art of marble inlay. He works with small pieces of stone. First carving a design in a larger piece of stone, then setting tiny pieces of colored stone into the carved design. Examples of his artistry decorated the walls around his workbench. His website is: www.tavolidimarmo.it

We watched him as he worked on a delicate piece. He showed us a pair of earrings with tiny purple stone violets embedded in small grey oval stones. They were beautiful, so we bought them to support a very talented craftsman and to remind us of our wonderful week in beautiful Florence.

As we walked through narrow alleyways of Oltrarno, we looked into several craftsmen’s shops. There were metal workers, and a handmade paper shop, and a man carving wood to make an intricate frame.

A light summer rain kept the number of tourists low and it was fun to walk the narrow streets in the rain!

We had reserved timed-tickets to get into the Accademia Gallery one afternoon and we were surprised that we had to wait in a “ticket-holders” line. But, the line for people without reservations was much longer. Of course, it was worth the wait to walk into the long room lined with Michelangelo’s unfinished stone sculptures and look down to see his majestic statue of David. Forever incredible and impressive!!

Walking around Florence, I noticed many little sealed niches embedded in the thick stone walls of old buildings. The buchette del vino were created during the outbreak of bubonic plague in the 1630s as a safe way to distribute wine. There are supposed to be more that 150 of these little “wine windows.” Ironic to think of them as an ancient solution to our modern-day pandemic ‘curb-side delivery.’

The week passed quickly and we returned to one of our favorite restaurants, Trattoria del Bargello, for our final delicious dinner in Florence. Below are a few extra photos of this wonderful city.

Sunday May 8th, Bernini Palace Hotel arranged a taxi to take us to the Santa Maria Novella train station. It was a short fun ride through the quiet streets of the city. The car drove through familiar walkways and passed monuments. It was a perfect postscript to a delightful week in beautiful Renaissance Florence.

Jeff had made reservations for Italy’s high-speed train from Florence to Venice on the Frecciarossa, Italian for “red arrow.” After a short and interesting wait at the station, we boarded the modern train. We had very comfortable seats in a spacious car with only a few other passengers. Masks were required in public transportation by Italian law, so I felt reasonably safe during our two hour trip.

We both had window seats and it was a lovely calm ride through the Italian countryside. After we were underway, an attendant served cookies and bottles of mineral water. Onboard screens gave information about the stations and told us that Frecciarossa was speeding along at 248 km/h or 150mph!

Two hours and fifteen minutes later, the train arrived at Venezia Santa Lucia terminal in the amazing city of Venice. The station was crowded with tourists, like us, carefully rolling our suitcases over bumpy cobblestones, out into the bright sunshine. There were several vaporetto (Venetian water bus/boat) choices in front of the terminal. As we were looking at a large confusing transportation map, a workman directed us to the vaporetto which stopped at Piazza San Marco/San Zaccaria near our hotel.

This was our third time visiting Venice. Our last trip to the incredibly beautiful city was in 2011 – seemed like a lifetime ago – and we arrived by boat from the airport. That’s a much better way to get to the heart of Venice. There is nothing like a water-taxi threading through the channel markers across the smooth blue lagoon with seagulls soaring overhead and salt-air wind blowing on your face. The boat sweeps past small islands as the towers of magical Venice come into view and grow larger as you approach.

We had made reservations to stay at the Hotel Danieli on the Grand Canal near San Marco because it was our 20th wedding anniversary and after Covid-confinement at home for two years, we felt we deserved a treat and a really good celebration! The Danieli is comprised of three palazzos (palazzi?) the oldest of which was built in the 14th century. The interior of the hotel was very elegant and impressive. My photos really do not capture the palatial grandeur illuminated by Murano glass chandeliers:

The Hotel Danieli is centrally located next-door to the Doge’s Palace, so was perfect for us to sightsee and take vaporettos everywhere. Also, there’s a rooftop restaurant/bar with a magnificent view:

There aren’t enough superlatives to describe Venice and if I took a gazillion pictures, I could never capture the mood or spirit of the city. You just have to go and experience magical enchanting Venice!

“Water, water everywhere…..” Cars and motorized vehicles are not allowed in Venice and certainly aren’t practical in the narrow spaces between buildings and across the hundreds of bridges connecting all the small islands that make up the city. In order to get anywhere, everyone has to take boats. There are all different sizes and kinds of boats from gondolas to fire & ambulances to commercial ships.

Just a few words about Gondoliers: Since our last trip to Venice 11 years ago, there seemed to be many more gondolas plying the canals and therefore many more Gondoliers hanging about at formal “Gondola stations” waiting to take tourists out for their 80-Euro 30-minute rides on the canals. I noticed that many of the stripe-shirted Gondoliers were looking at their smart-phones while they waited:

Characters: Venice is full of interesting locals and visitors. There are gondoliers and Venetians hurrying about and a slew of foreign tourists. Photos below: on the left are two women in costumes during a break from filming a new movie. On the right was a young woman playing a song for tips using tuned water glasses. She was really good!

We saw fresh fruits and vegetables for sale on open-air boats along some canals. There’s also a large produce market and the famous fish market on the the other side of the Rialto Bridge. Outdoor markets are always great fun to explore, watch the vendors, and see what fresh foods are available.

We had pre-purchased timed-tickets for the Doge’s Palace and later for the Basilica San Marco, so we avoided long lines. The interior of the church is lined with gold mosaic pieces and is truly magnificent.

We had fun finding small ancient wine bars that have been selling cicchetti for hundreds of years. The tasty morsels are fish, hams, or fish paste on fresh circles of Italian bread – similar to tapas in Spain.

A big part of the fun of Venice is riding the boats everywhere. The city is built on more than 100 islands and everyone has to get everywhere by boat! Venetians have their own little power boats, but the rest of us rely on “public transportation” aka vaporettos and traghettos and water taxis and ferries. We bought weekly passes to ride vaporettos. A one-way traghetto ride was 2-euros on this trip.

A traveler can’t go to Italy without talking about food. In one simple word, Italian food is “delizioso.” It’s really impossible to have a bad meal in Italy because everything is made fresh.

A week in Venice flies by, and after walking through narrow alleyways, crossing endless little bridges, riding on vaporettos and traghettos, resting at cafes to have a bottle of water or a small spritz, and eating sumptuous meals at outdoor cafes, it was time to catch a plane to go home.

As I wrote before, the best way to arrive in Venice is by boat. Well, the best way to leave my favorite city is also by boat! A water taxi picked us up at the hotel. First, it slowly moved through the narrow canals to get to the northern part of Venice. When we reached open waters, the driver ‘stepped on the gas’ and we sped across the lagoon creating a huge wake behind us, all the way to the airport!

Arrivederci Venezia…. Arrivederci Italia….

2020 – The Pandemic Year

December 30th, 2020

We returned home to New York from Florida in late January 2020. I was optimistic about a new year filled with travel plans & trips, visiting family, going to concerts & the theater, exercising, and enjoying my 74th year.

Now, at the end of the year, the best thing I can say about the last twelve months is: “We survived 2020!” Since I’ve been grounded and unable to travel, I decided to publish my story of the most awful year we have experienced since the Pandemic of 1918, the Depression, and World Wars.

February 2020: Our lives were relatively normal through most of the cold dark month of February in New York: walks in the neighborhood, doctor’s appointments, food shopping, eating in restaurants, reading, visiting family and friends. However, reports of a new “Corona Virus” – Covid 19 began to circulate.

March 2020: I had dinner with a friend at my favorite Japanese restaurant, Hajime, in Harrison, NY on March 3rd. “Hajime” means ‘beginning’ in English. I didn’t know that it would be the last time I would be able to eat in a restaurant for the entire year. Also this month, one of my French cousins traveled to San Francisco with her singing group and returned home with Covid 19. Fortunately, after many weeks of sickness at her home, she recovered.

The first case of Covid-19 virus in New York State was confirmed on March 3rd in the city of New Rochelle about 30 miles from our house in Westchester County. Afterwards, everything began to change. The shutdowns began…..

Businesses and schools began to close. Supermarkets had special early-hours for senior citizens, because the elderly population was more vulnerable to the virus. People lined up to buy groceries everywhere. Because there was so much uncertainty and fear of “the unknown,” stores ran out of paper products, sugar, flour, meat, milk, bottled water and other staples as people stocked up with emergency supplies. My local Stop ‘n’ Shop:

Broadway went ‘dark’ in New York City and there were severe restrictions on the number of people in any group. The daily Covid death count reached 800 in the city.

April 2020: The days became longer and spring slowly unfolded. Everything shut down: only “essential” businesses were allowed to open: food stores and gas stations. All other businesses, schools, libraries, restaurants, movie theaters, etc. closed in an effort to contain the virus.

We were were given a “Stay at Home” order and asked to wear masks, wash hands frequently, socially distance, and limit contact with other people.

Governor Cuomo gave daily briefings on television informing viewers about the spread of the virus, number of hospitalizations, and deaths in New York City, across the state, and globally. The number of cases of Covid soared out of control all across Europe.

The City became a quiet ‘ghost town’ with very little traffic and few people:

People everywhere in our New York region tried to socially distance:

Meanwhile, here in suburban Westchester County, spring flowers began to bloom in their natural annual progression despite the raging virus.

Governor Cuomo demonstrated strong leadership in his daily briefings:

May 2020 Covid hospitalizations and deaths increased to alarming levels. There wasn’t enough protective gear or masks for hospital emergency workers, doctors or nurses; hospital beds and intensive care units filled rapidly. New York City had the highest number of cases in the country. “Seniors” continued to stay home…..

New York City remained closed – all businesses, museums, restaurants. We were advised to stay home and wear masks outside and socially distance.

In the middle of all this, with the warming temperatures of spring, a family of red squirrels moved into our basement! We called a wildlife expert who set live-traps and eventually removed a mother squirrel and five babies…..

Governor Cuomo continued to encourage New Yorkers to “do the right thing” and he imposed strict rules for businesses and schools. With diligence, our numbers of hospitalizations and deaths slowly decreased.

We learned about the Pandemic of 1918. Experts made comparisons to our current Covid-19 epidemic and most New Yorkers attempted to learn from it.

Unfortunately, guided by the lack of leadership of the federal government and the deplorable example of the current president, the Covid-19 virus began to spread rapidly across the country.

Experts in the medical field spoke out daily. You would have thought that the rest of the country would have learned from our New York example, BUT they didn’t…..

Meanwhile, most New Yorkers remained vigilant and many people, especially seniors, continued to stay home to protect ourselves and others. With strict practices, we began to be successful to defeat the deadly virus.

June 2020: We rolled into a new month and New York State continued its fight against Covid-19. Schools were closed and struggled to institute “virtual learning.” Stores, restaurants, bars, were shuttered. Businesses were still closed with more fortunate employees working from home. Millions of people lost their jobs.

As New York State seemed to slowly win the battle against the virus, Covid continued to spread rapidly across the country. The U.S. president rejected scientists’ advice and the warnings of medical advisors. He was not capable of learning from our New York experience with Covid-19. He continued to deny the existence of the pandemic and advised states to “open” businesses and schools. He cared more about money than people’s lives.

Tensions across the country ran high. On May 25th, George Floyd, an innocent black man, was killed by police officers in Minneapolis, setting off a national wave of civil protests and highlighting the serious need for police reforms.

Young people in my town organized a demonstration to support justice and equality for black Americans. Despite the real fears of contracting Covid-19, many hundreds of local people turned out to march across town.

Governor Cuomo continued his daily briefings and demonstrated solid leadership during these incredibly challenging times. He remained strong in the battle against Covid-19 and supported peaceful protests. By mid-June the number of Covid positive cases decreased in New York and the state began the slow process of “re-opening.”

The weather improved: warm sunny days and life began to look hopeful.

Unfortunately, the rest of the United States did not learn from New York’s experience and with no federal or national plan or guidelines to deal with the raging pandemic, Covid-19 continued to rapidly creep across the country.

The global pandemic of Covid-19 continued to spread across Europe and Asia causing many nations to go on country-wide lockdowns. Italy, especially, suffered severely with countless deaths and overcrowded hospitals.

During New York’s gradual re-opening, residents continued to wear masks, socially distance, and limit indoor activities. Restaurants moved to outdoor dining and take-out. Supermarkets had limited early hours for seniors. Libraries instituted outside pickups. Children and adults stayed home and resorted to virtual Zoom classes.

On the positive side, we all enjoyed beautiful spring weather. Because I live in suburban Westchester, I walked at least two miles every day alone.

By the end of June, New Yorkers were proud of our accomplishments; we had “beat the virus!” We waited for the rest of the country to get on board.

July 2020: We had never dreamed that we would be in confinement for such a long period of time. I watched TV news, read the NYTimes, listened to Gov. Cuomo’s daily briefings, walked the neighborhood, and kept busy. As retirees, we counted our blessings, enjoyed our beautiful natural surroundings, tried to be “positive,” stayed home, and stayed healthy.

New York numbers of Covid deaths and hospitalizations decreased as the virus continued to spread across the United States. Foreign countries instituted severe lockdowns. But the U.S. president continued to deny the virus. He ignored advice from scientists and the national health community. He encouraged states to remain “open.”

NY State Governor Cuomo pushed for increased testing and instituted travel bans from contaminated states. He also mandated masks and social distancing. I watched in horror as the Covid-19 virus cases spread to other states and the number of people who died from the virus increased every day.

Time slowly marched on. I enjoyed beautiful warm weather and bright sunny days. I continued walking every day, planted flowers in the garden, kept busy, and we tried to stay healthy and sane…..

The Mayor of New York City joined other protestors outside Trump Towers in Manhattan. They painted the words: “Black Lives Matter” on 5th Avenue to challenge the president’s obvious racism toward Black Americans.

Air planes were empty; travel was restricted. People around the globe tried to socially distance to stop the spread of the virus. Cities around the world tried to disinfect:

Neighbors posted signs outside their homes thanking all the essential workers for their work to risk their lives everyday during these awful times. Hospital workers endured incredible hardships and many became sick and died.

We continued to try to stay healthy by walking around my neighborhood and in FDR State Park. Northern Westchester County is hilly with many lakes and reservoirs which are part of the NYC water supply system. It’s really a beautiful place to live. And it’s easy to “socially distance.”

Summer flowers were in bloom everywhere and brought a sense of joy. One day, I saw a “wake” of Black Vultures on the grass near my home. Yes, that’s what a group of vultures is called. Creepy. But perhaps appropriate for the huge number of Covid deaths.

August 2020: Summer was in full bloom. It seemed as if the flowers and trees were more beautiful this year. The beauty of the flowers defied the bleakness of the pandemic! New York State continued to do reasonably well with Covid so Governor Cuomo began to slowly open businesses. Unfortunately, the virus was still spreading through the rest of the country.

Early in the month, a huge hurricane named Isaias roared up the eastern coast with strong winds and caused extensive damage to several states. Some trees in my neighborhood were uprooted or blown down.

We drove to the city to have a masked distance visit with my son, Chris, and my Aunt Lillian for her 97th birthday. It was wonderful to see them but very sad that we couldn’t spend more time together and celebrate her amazing milestone birthday in a special place or in some more festive way.

Traffic was very light and many restaurants had expanded out to the parking lanes. People wore masks and suspiciously eyed each other.

I watched national news reports sadly to see the pandemic continue to spread. New York was doing reasonably well. States with Republican governors followed the president’s lead to keep businesses open and not wear masks.

I continued to walk every day in FDR State Park or around my neighborhood for exercise and to admire the beauty of summer in Northern Westchester.

Mask laws were instituted across all the countries in Europe and Asia.

The U. S. election race was heating up. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were gaining many voters in a growing number of states. I am so fortunate to live in a Democratic state!

Our condominium complex began to replace roofs and the construction project provided a much needed diversion from politics and the overwhelming pressure of Covid news. Warm summer days were good!

My neighbor grew beautiful hibiscus plants and yummy grape tomatoes on the deck. Yes, she shared her bounty.

Another tropical storm threatened the U.S. as the Covid numbers climbed steadily.

Cardboard cutouts representing people filled in empty stadiums and arenas. We took a drive to Brewster, NY and stopped at the famous Red Rooster Drive-In for take-out.

September: I could never have predicted that we would spend most of 2020 at home trying to avoid people and crowds to protect ourselves from the Corona virus. Yet, here we were: wearing masks, staying away from family, isolated from friends, communicating by phone, texts, and email……

New York beat Covid BUT the rest of the country was being stupid!

We continued to shop at supermarkets during early “senior” hours when the store was devoid of people. We followed Dr. Fauci’s advice to wear masks out to the few places we dared to go.

Information about the virus continued to change as doctors and scientists learned more about it, but the numbers of positive cases and deaths continued to rise. I sewed more batik double-cloth masks for family and friends.

Photos below: empty parking lots; walking on neighborhood trailways; socially-distanced outdoor events at the local library; roof replacements; and a fun visit to out-door markets, especially FarmEats pasture-raised meats.

Incredible, but several major storms were brewing in the Atlantic!

People worked from home and avoided New York City so there was was much less traffic on the avenues.

I visited the New York Botanical Garden for a special exhibit. However, I did not go into the beautiful glass conservatory because of Covid-19. I explored the magnificent grounds, the beautiful Rose Garden, and the old-growth eastern-woodlands forest – the only one left in New York City. I love the Garden!

Covid-positive cases rose steadily without federal leadership or guidance. The nation and the world viewed the bully in the White House during a “debate.” He blustered and boasted and demonstrated his ignorance and lack of knowledge.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away September 18th. It was a sad day for all of us….

October: Last year, we had booked a long Mediterranean Cruise from mid-October to mid-November. We had planned to spend a week exploring Lisbon, Portugal before boarding the ship and another week visiting Barcelona after the cruise. The ship would have visited Morocco and Gibraltar before sailing east to Montenegro, Dubrovnik, and Venice, stopping at the islands of Malta, Corfu Greece, Sicily, Corsica, and Santorini. Of course, we canceled. But it’s very hard not to think of what could have been and how much fun we could have had…..

We stayed in confinement like all the other seniors we knew to protect ourselves. Covid-19 continued to spread across the country and the world. Fall crept in with cooler days and nights. The first frost of the season began to turn the leaves to golden orange and red.

Roofers continued to pound away and put new roofs on more of the buildings. They took advantage of the beautiful crisp cool days.

Everyone in the neighborhood put out many more Halloween decorations than years past to add cheer and happiness and joy to the community for everyone!

Mother Nature demonstrated her power by hurling more powerful storms at North America. We buzzed through the alphabet of storm-names and began calling them by the Greek alphabet.

Trump, who still denied the Covid pandemic and refused to wear a mask, contracted Covid-19 and was immediately treated with Remdesivir, the Regeneron Antibody Cocktail. The virus also spread throughout the White House!

The first presidential “debate” had taken place and showed Trump to be a loud, obnoxious, crude, inconsiderate, and rude bully. Biden held his own and demonstrated that he was a gentleman and “presidential.” A few weeks later, Kamila Harris and Mike Pence met for a V.P Debate.

Senator Harris demonstrated intelligence and knowledge of national and international affairs. Her response to questions was excellent. She seemed gracious and caring. Dull Pence exhibited his usual boring ignorant qualities of being a “yes-man” too long and just spouted memorized script-lines, even with a fly on his coifed hair!

I walked the trails and around my neighborhood as the temperatures cooled and the leaves changed colors all around me.

Instead of leading the country out of the pandemic and talking of Covid-19, Trump continued to cast doubt on the upcoming election and claimed “voter fraud.” I wondered what he would say about crooked politics if he won???

I visited the New York Botanical Garden and strolled among the outdoor flowerbeds. It’s such a beautiful refuge in the middle of the Bronx.

Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations leveled off in New York State but continued to soar and spread across the rest of the United States. Seems like a broken record. If we only had good leadership things would be different!!

The roofers finally finished their work in our circle and packed up their stuff and drove off. We’re happy! We have a brand new roof for the winter! The days got shorter, the nights cooler; the leaves became more beautiful.

Pharmaceutical companies worked furiously on vaccines to stop Covid-19. Various governments and officials talked about who should be vaccinated first.

Believe it our not, Christmas decorations began to appear in all the stores!!

Walking in FDR State Park is especially lovely as the sun sets over the lake. One night I went to hear “Scary Halloween Stories for Adults” at the local library. It was an outdoor event, so I wore a heavy coat & hat and took a folding chair. The audiences’ chairs were ‘socially distanced’ from one another.

Early voting in New York State was held from October 24 to November 1st. Unlike Election Day, we could vote at any polling place in our county. Every day, the lines at all the polling places were very long because people wanted to get their votes in and not wait for Election Day. Everyone expected a record number of voters this year.

Joe Biden was predicted to win the election, but the polls were wrong in 2016, so who knows? Several regions across the country were declared “Battleground States.”

We ultimately chose a rainy day to vote, because we thought perhaps less people would be out and the line might be shorter. We drove to Somers, NY and stood under umbrellas in a light drizzle and waited about 20 minutes. We finally cast our votes for president! We smiled at the Biden/Harris sign someone had left in their car window which was parked along the line.

The fall season was rapidly changing into winter as the air became chillier.

The Covid-19 virus the was ravaging U. S. and the current administration continued to do nothing except deny its existence. How many Americans have to die before Republicans will do something???

Most of Europe was on severe lockdowns: everything was closed; streets were empty; people were required to stay home; many people have died.

November: We waited for Election Day as early voting counts and election surveys were announced. Incredibly, the polls showed it would be a close election. Even before Election Day, Trump was crying “voter fraud.” What would he say about crooked elections if he won? What a sore loser!!

Finally, it was Election Day, November 7, perhaps the most important in our lifetimes.

Some businesses in the city boarded up their windows because they were afraid of riots in the aftermath of the results. What a very sad statement of the condition of our country at this time. Instigated by a bully.

Joe Biden was predicted to be the winner of the presidential election by popular vote. Hilary Clinton had won the popular vote in 2016 but not the Electoral College. We hoped Biden would have enough states to carry the E.C.

The press had said the country might not know who won until the next day or longer, but the results poured in and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were declared winners by the day after Election Day!! They won the general election and garnered a sizable number of Electoral College votes!! People celebrated out in the streets in every state!!!

Trump proved himself to be a real ‘sore loser’ and a very ‘poor sport’ by not conceding and cried “election fraud.”

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris delivered heartfelt acceptance speeches with their families outdoors in Delaware.

Almost the entire world is breathing a sigh of relief, as if a huge weight has been lifted off all of our shoulders. News outlets across the globe showed people celebrating the Biden/Harris victory. My French cousins sent the following:

Unfortunately, we were losing the battle with Covid-19 as the numbers of sick and hospitalized people soared across the country and the world. The United States reached 250,000 deaths from the virus. A quarter of a million people died, perhaps unnecessarily. We could only imagine what the situation might have been if we had had a rational president who believed in science and followed the guidelines of the experts in the medical field.

Our weather was changing quickly and moving from fall to winter. The nights were becoming frosty; winds were stronger and colder; trees were less colorful as their leaves carpeted the earth.

One big storm after another raced across the Atlantic and battered the American coastline.

It was nearing the end of the farmer’s markets with an abundance of apples & cider and root vegetables.

There were few people at beautiful Croton Point Park on the Hudson River:

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was completely a virtual television event. Streets along Broadway and around 34th Street were closed and people were barred from attending. The parade route just circled the giant department store.

Covid Cases & Deaths Increased

Most of the countries in Europe were in “Lockdowns.” As these news photos show, France was essentially closed.

December 2020: The days became shorter and colder temperatures blew in from the north. Covid 19 relentlessly continued to rage across the United States and around the world. Last January we thought it was going to be a temporary condition, a short-lived epidemic. But now, everyone acknowledges that we’re living a full-scale major pandemic.

I watched the world close down. Everything is closed. Discontinued. Shuttered. Diminished. Stopped. Terminated. The media spoke about “The New Normal” as most people tried to adjust to “quarantines” and “confinements.”

Even Patience and Fortitude, the lions who guard the NY Public Library, wore their anti-Covid-19 hospital masks.

No leaves around the pond near my house!

The best and most promising news was that Pfizer’s vaccine was approved by the FDA and would be administered to hospital workers. After that, it would be given to elderly and sick people. At our age, we would be next in line.

The Christmas tree was installed at Rockefeller Center.

The holiday season arrived quietly and we tried to make the best of it with a virtual Christmas celebration.

After this horrible year of fear, sickness, deaths, isolation, quarantines, and incredible uncertainty, all I can say is “Good Riddance 2020!!!”