Since the Pennsylvania primary has been moved from April 28 to June 2nd, the owner of this Cranberry Township roadside attraction out on Route 62 will have a little more time to decide who will adorn their sign. I do wonder if their choice last election turned out not to be what they hoped leading to the obliteration of evidence, or is it more of a statement of being unsure? Send me you roadside attractions or signs that catch your attention.
Since last Wednesday, the song that keep's going through my head is "My Future's So Bright, I gotta Wear Shades" by Timbuk 3.
Yep, that's the day I got laid off.
As I sat across the desk of my editor listening to how the paper didn't need me during this time, my mind was already focusing on what I could do, how I could keep telling stories. I knew before I got out of that chair that I wasn't going to stop and that I would find a way to keep telling stories of my community. Somehow.
"It's what we do!"
My first offering came two days later after I created a new page on this website that I called 8 & 322. I explained my situation and told a small story about a community leader who was also moving on to something new. Seemed apropos.
8 & 322 represents the physical crossroads of two major routes in Franklin. My thought is these two roads spider in all four directions and from this center I could tell stories all over the region.
It also can represent my own personal crossroads where I need to decide my future direction. "When you come to a fork in the road - take it!" Yogi Berra.
"It's what we do!"
In case you missed it. (#icymi) you can click on the above 8 & 322 banner and see what I did.
The stories are not earth shattering, just community stories that I can tell as I am figuring out unemployment, health insurance and learning all sorts of new things about the world of communication. And I'm not even close to knowing what I need to know yet.
But, I'm paying attention and learning. For instance, I now know what #icymi stands for. I plan to use it from time to time to help spread these stories around and hopefully build an audience as I learn to better use social media to better communicate.
If you clicked on the link to the 8 & 322 page above, you already saw a story about people sharing their lives and talents from home. Since that post, I've become aware of even more folks sharing things that help us all feel batter about life.
Some entertain and spread cheer while being informative.
This cute hand washing video is from a llittle girl in Mercer County who wanted to make videos like the ones she watches on YouTube. She calls herself Palm Tree, though it's unclear why. She opens up her videos with "hello my fans!"to add to the cuteness. Her parents are helping her make them to share.
She did this hand-washing video to help us all stay safer during this time. Her make-up tips video, which has already been viewed over a 400 times, is also a must watch. You can view it here: https://www.facebook.com/101072411546316/videos/524553258467601/
When I asked her parents if it would be OK to share these, she told them she "would like people in the whole world to see videos if they want to."
Another person wanting to help remind us of the importance of hand washing during this COVID-19 scare is Crawford County resident Kim Lengling. While sudsing up her digits, she offers alternatives to singing Happy Birthday twice, which is the suggestion of Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.
Lengling has now posted several of these videos on her Facebook wall. If she is washing her hands this often for no other reason than she loves to sing, we would still benefit because she sings quite well. And if we're smart, we'd listen while we washed our own hands.
Another Crawford County woman, who has been taking to social media to help during this difficult time is Cheryl Weiderspahn. She has been getting quite a bit of attention from newspapers and TV news stations for her efforts to help sew masks for medical personnel and others. She saw a need and uses her love of sewing and her ability as a community leader to rally others to help.
Weiderspahn posted a how-to video so others could learn. On her Facebook page she has update after update on the efforts of her enlisted army of volunteers all making masks from their homes.
The features on her have also helped spread the word on the need for these masks. As she says in the video, they are not the approved masks, but when some are forced to use bandanas because they no longer have the approved masks, these are a welcomed addition during this difficult time.
As I continue to find these stories to share, I hope others realize something I do - that if we remind ourselves who we are as people, as a community, we will come out of this horrible mess stronger.
Our future is so bright, we all should be wearing shades!
So #icymi check out my new 8 & 322 blog for more stories about others doing things to brighten up our lives. I will continue to do my part during this tough time to tell these stories of the people who are making a difference.
"It's what I do!"
The rapidly changing events of this Covid-19 pandemic have been incredibly trying on my mind. I struggle to find anything to compare it to in my 54 years on this planet.
The closest thing I can remember is when my high school had a mini out-break of Chicken pox. It was sort of a big joke to us, all these teenagers getting this little kid disease. No one took it very serious. It was just something that was going around. No big deal.
Then I got it.
I got it really bad. Bed ridden bad. I spiked a very high fever and had pox all over my body. I was miserable.
My mom took me out of school, put me in her bed and took care of me as she slept on the couch. I remember her putting her cheek to my forehead to check my temperature.
Social distancing isn't something moms do.
She sacrificed so much to nurse me back to health.
But Chicken Pox isn't Covid 19.
We do need to, quite frankly, take heed.
Jump ahead to now.
My mom, who is now in her 80s, took a nasty fall a couple months back at her Florida home. She was hospitalized.
This event seemed to lead to a long list of discoveries within her health that has kept her from rehabilitating and returning to her home where she lives alone.
As of now she resides in a rehabilitation care facility that, because of Covid-19, is closed to visitors. I cannot visit her or comfort her the way she did for me countless times when I was a kid.
I wish I could be there, but I can't.
This virus is incredibly serious. When I think of my mom's situation I grow more and more tired of people taking this pandemic lightly and calling our fears and Governor Wolf actions an overreaction.
When I read posts and comments on social media in which people compare the virus to the flu, or say,"It's only the elderly and those with weakened immune systems that are dying" - I get angry.
I question their compassion.
Do the people posting these comments picture their own beloved grandmother or mother?
Do they realize they could be carriers who could cause someone to become terribly ill?
Do they think their perceived invincibility makes them immune from causing stress, worry, and illness in others?
Do they care that I worry about them being sick or that they give it to me?
Do they realize their actions could even lead to my mom becoming sick?
That they could lead, through the chain of community spread, to my mother dying from this?
This world, and I want to emphasize WORLD, not just a small town, state, country, but world, is taking a Mike Tyson lights out blow to the chin from this virus.
Even President Trump, who first wasn't overly concerned about the virus (as little as a month ago,) has now declared a national state of emergency as we not only enter a health crisis but a tumbling economic meltdown.
Is everyone willing to take it serious yet?
Are we still overreacting?
I'm so tired of still hearing people say this.
Currently my family is trying to assist my mother from hundreds of miles away. But we're helpless. I was lucky enough to see her shortly before the crisis ramped up. During that visit I held her in my arms as she cried from pain, frustration and fear. Now she is in Florida without any family to comfort or visit her.
I think about this all day long.
So when I read callous posts on social media, forgive me, but you don't know what the hell you're talking about.
It is essential we take great care of ourselves for the benefit of others more now then ever. It is downright dangerous to be cavalier about this.
Even if the doors are open to my mother's facility tomorrow, I still can't, in good conscious, go visit her.
I'm feeling OK. My temperature is perfect. I'm not coughing today. But what if I had contact with someone not taking this seriously? What if I am carrying the virus even though I am taking precautions?
Putting my cheek to her forehead could kill her.
That's the perspective I have when Governor Wolf basically shut down the state; and the president declared an emergency.
Across the state the number of cases rises daily and the location of the confirmed cases continues to get closer to where I live and work. As I write this, a case was confirmed in Mercer County.
At the paper, we are spending a lot of time doing stories about closures and tips for staying healthy. We are focused on providing the most up-to-date information about this virus we can. We present a lot of lists and numbers to help people know what is going on.
All good information, but information is useless unless we take heed and do our part.
But a lot of what is being reported about this incredibly fast moving story are numbers and sometimes we lose track that those numbers are human beings, members of someone's family.
Let me emphasize this.
Each number is a child, a grandparent, aunt, uncle, best friend, dad, or - a mom.
Earlier this week I met a family in Franklin. The parents voiced concern about the virus, but they said they were getting the house clean and building strong family connections as a result of school being shut down. "We want to come out of this stronger," the dad said.
We are human beings together in this fight for our health and quite frankly, our lives.
The borrowed graphics on this blog show how community spread can overwhelm a population if measures are not taken to prevent.