Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A Baby Shower, Historic House Style

Let me just start by saying no...I'm not pregnant! But my cousin Juliana is, and after missing her wedding because of COVID, I was really excited to say hi and celebrate with her and the family. Of course, it was a small gathering, masked, and required vaccination. That's a cool thing about my cousin-she believes in science!

I was even more thrilled to see she was holding her shower at a historic house in St. Claire Shores, Michigan. Ardmore Park Place is now operating as a tea house/gift shop, but it was built in the 1870s by a German farm family. Over the years it has operated as a roadhouse, blind pig, bordello, and then a furniture store. In 2012 the city declared the house an official historic building. You can read here for more information from their website.

Unfortunately, I did not get many pictures of the inside, as I was busy doing baby shower stuff (why yes I did win a baby shower BINGO...). It was a delightful little spot, and the staff was really sweet and accommodating. The whole thing was just so adorable, between the atmosphere and the food, I didn't know what to do with it all. There's something so comfortable about being in an old house, like a lived-in feeling that makes you feel at home.


She is literally glowing

In between my eighth cup of tea and cookies, I couldn't help but think about my Grandma Dolly. I think she would have absolutely gushed about the shower, from start to finish. I could practically hear her voice, pouring another cup of tea and pointing out the lace. It's moments like these that I miss her most. She was there I guess, even if it was in our collective memories.

It was especially nice to see everyone, and I'm hoping I can do more small gatherings this fall, unlike in 2020. We have plans to visit a few spots, including Greenfield Village, though the weather and timing will be a factor. Also, some lovely upcoming Christmas present planning...if only my carpal tunnel doesn't flare up again!

~Kristen

Sunday, September 12, 2021

A Closer Look: 1918 Flu Comparisons

Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, people have made comparisons between it and the 1918 flu. It's easy to do, considering they are both respiratory illnesses and easily spread. Examining the spikes and low points of both are easy to do, especially since they follow the normal trajectory of a virus. I've seen so many articles pointing out similarities and differences, arguments about which is worse.



Personally, I've had trouble spending any time studying the two. Up until very recently, I was still very angry about my own recovery, and before that terrified that my fiance would get sick and possibly die. I'll never forget those first few months of reports when every day we heard about some doctor or nurse dying. When he came home exhausted from a shift at the hospital, I would watch him breathe while he slept, as if I could keep him safe just by watching. I'm glad that time has passed.

Now with a little distance and a whole lot of antibodies (and no dead close family members), I can start to look at COVID a little differently, as the historic event that is unfolding right before us. Right now we're in the middle of the "unvaccinated" epidemic, but nearly every member of my family/friends are vaccinated. The fear is slowly passing, and I'm replacing that with careful curiosity. Expect to see some posts here and there about my findings.

Recently I took a closer look at The Camp Sherman News, particularly October 22, 1918. This periodical was published for training military members/townspeople in Chillicothe, Ohio, established in 1917 to train soldiers during World War I. It has all of the regular things you'd expect in a newspaper, like ads and illustrations. But it was some of the headlines that really rang true for me. I've screenshot a few just to show here.






The "42 Sacrificed Own Lives in Nursing Sick" hit me square in the gut, reminding me of the beginning of COVID. Those 42 medical staff included doctors and nurses, people who did everything in their power to save others. As of May 2021, WHO estimated that 115,000 healthcare workers have died worldwide from COVID, and we've had several months since that estimate. It's a sobering number, considering that many still deny that this virus even exists at all. 

I was also excited to see the dedication to the "Camp Laundry." It reminds me in the past year of how other industries have seen more attention because of their work. Most people tend to think of the laundry as a basic service, not important or noteworthy. And yet, with thousands of people dying, clean clothing and bedsheets are essential to keeping a sanitary environment. I think of how for the longest time people have ridiculed those working in the fast-food/service industries. Now with such a shortage, wages are creeping up and people are recognizing how important those workers truly are. 

I'm really hoping to see some legislative changes to help people as well.

The newspaper contains many other awesome little details that I'll weed through in future posts. In the meantime, keep wearing your mask and stay safe. Also, don't be a jerk to people in the service industry, they don't need your crap. 

~Kristen

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The School Year Begins!

There's no tired like the first week of school tired. After a week of professional development, room setup, and lesson planning, I was ready to meet students in my new school district! I'm so excited to work in such a positive environment. My coworkers have been every sort of amazing, to the point that it doesn't even feel like a job. But even a week of awesome is exhausting. 

Happy/Tired Face

In other news, many events that I planned to attend this fall/winter are being canceled. With so many people unvaccinated, there seem to be outbreaks popping up everywhere. I'm not excited about the possibility of getting COVID again, no matter how small the chance, or severe the case. Unfortunately, I've seen more than a few reenactors become sick/succumb to the virus. It remains to be seen how the community will recover in the years ahead. As it is, I'm thinking about my own participation.

Remember, stay safe everyone!

~Kristen

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Long Haul COVID Symptoms: Update

I'm writing this post not long after a friend of mine has died from COVID. He was young, healthy, unvaccinated; it's odd to think he will no longer be in this world. I didn't make it to his funeral, but I went to a gathering for friends later, and it was hard. 

His death, and the illnesses/hospitalizations of many people I know, helped me to decide to do another update post on my health. Our household is fully vaccinated, which is a relief, though we will be getting the booster shots as soon as they are available. I would get a shot every day for the rest of my life if it meant not going through what I went through already.

To start, my taste and smell senses are still altered. I cannot always identify a scent and will ask people around me to help "place" it. That might sound just annoying, but in reality, it creates a lot of problems. I still have trouble figuring out if food has gone bad. I am self-conscious that I smell bad. Sometimes a strong odor of plastic or cigarette will randomly fill my nostrils. It's not pleasant and it's a daily reminder.

I think my tastes have changed since COVID. Before I preferred chocolate desserts with subtle taste in my meals. Now I'll take anything really tart, sour, or strong. Pickled eggs are still my favorite, along with swiss cheese. I'm also a fan of anything crunchy and salty, which isn't great for eating healthy. I'm wondering when I'll feel comfortable eating again. I still have symptoms of IBS when I eat certain foods or if I get too anxious. Apparently, this is another long-term problem they're seeing. It's painful, and sometimes difficult to function in any way resembling normal.

When I work out, my heart rate gets very fast, and I'll get dizzy and sick to my stomach. I've never had that issue in the past. I played three sports in high school, did Pure Barre in 2019, and have run 5ks. I've been heavier, and more out of shape than I am at this time, and still did many things. It's really frustrating because I now have a limit, a stopping point, that is painful to push. This isn't "girl out of shape," this is "I am very suddenly going to pass out, sit down now." I'm trying hard to work through it, but it's definitely hindering my long-term recovery efforts. My balance is still off too.

My words have improved greatly, though I still forget things, things I should know. My brain has created a workaround for trying to name things. Just the other day I forgot the word "references" when doing job interviews. I called them "recommenders," which got the job done, but scared me a little. Are there things in my memory that are erased? Are there small moments in my past that are gone forever? My Spanish speaking skills have improved, which has been a great relief. Yet there are so many question marks about what happened during those weeks when I existed in a fog of pain. 

There are still people out there minimizing COVID. They say things like "you're alive, get over it!" with a shrill insistence that my suffering was necessary. Here I am, 10 months later, coming to terms with the fact that this might not be "long haul COVID," but "forever COVID," and I really, really didn't want to be here. I just want things to be back to normal with my mind and body.


With masks a heavily debated issue in my state/county, I try to keep myself out of the conversation. It makes me so angry, so tired to hear anti-science rhetoric woven into the fabric of some communities. I watched a board meeting the other day where a crowd of people CHEERED when it was revealed that there was a low vaccination rate in the area. They were proud. This was the community where I once worked; I contracted this virus from a staff member or student the very first week we went to school. It's like what happened to me never happened at all.

Whoever you are, wherever you are reading this, I hope you are vaccinated. I hope you are as safe as you can be. Heck, start wearing masks again in indoor public places, just to humor me. If I can save one person the trouble and pain of long-haul COVID, then this post was worth it.

~Kristen

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

A Visit to Ann Arbor

The summer wouldn't be complete without a quick visit to Ann Arbor, the home of my alma mater! With some of the restrictions lifted on campus for vaccinated visitors, it was a treat to check out the museum, UMMA. Back when we first visited (forever ago...) it was fairly new without a lot of exhibits. We were excited to see new artifacts, and I was a big fan of how they used them to tell a story.

It's also lovely to take a stroll down streets that are so familiar. I remember hustling across campus to get to class on time, sneaking over to the Union to grab a cookie at lunch, and hunkering down at a computer at the Fish Bowl (probably called something else now!). Of course, things look very different, but they still feel the same. It was definitely worth the trip just for nostalgia alone!

At the end of a full day of walking, we were pretty tired. We stopped at Dominick's, a yummy Italian restaurant with a porch near the law quad. There's something to be said for a big plate of homemade pasta, specifically if that meal includes a gorgeous view of historic buildings. We also stopped at a shop that exclusively sells bon bons, which was an absolutely necessary experience. By the time we finished our visit we were stuffed with food, tired, and ready for a nap. Really I'm not seeing too much of a difference between college and now... :) 


~Kristen


Sunday, August 8, 2021

The Detroit Historical Museum Visit

I'm rather shocked at myself for not making the trip to the Detroit Historical Museum earlier, considering I've lived in this part of Michigan for nearly a decade. I blame the DIA, which is very close by and offers a wine bar/cafe in a very pretty courtyard. But I had a little bit of extra time during the school summer break and had an opportunity to make the visit.

I'm afraid I didn't take a lot of very good pictures. I was so busy reading and looking at different exhibits that I sort of forgot about using this for a blog post. Do you ever get so caught up in the moment that you forget to capture it? I'm usually more on top of things, but this trip was almost therapeutic in that I just wanted the experience of it.


There's a lot of history to unpack in Detroit, a city of change, growth, failure, and triumph. Having lived in downriver Detroit for much of my childhood, I learned about many of these stories. However, there's something absolutely different to see videos and artifacts. One really cool moment; I saw a map of the riots in the 1960's; my Grandma gave birth to my Mom during the Detroit Riot of 1967. She was a newborn and required to stay at the hospital for some time due to an illness. The staff was nervous about what was happening, and my family had to make decisions about my Mom at the hospital because of it. It's interesting to see it mapped out in a museum! (I feel like that could be a blog post all by itself!)


There were a lot of other exhibits, and I spent hours wandering around. The basement of the museum features a town, complete with brick road and storefronts. I was the only one down there for a little while, and it was pretty creepy. They had mannequins in different windows, and when I say that I saw their eyes move, I'm only slightly kidding. I did not stick around long enough to be a part of a horror movie...

I have a random scatter of photos, and since I was really lazy about this whole process, I don't remember details around them (LOL Covid brain!). If you'd like to know more about something you see in particular, feel free to drop a comment. We live close enough that I can return whenever I like!

After looking at these pictures, I'm already planning my next visit. Perhaps I can send my beloved fiance to the basement on a mission to snap some creepy pics...he's pretty smart, so I doubt he'll be tricked into it. If you have a chance to visit The Detroit Historical Museum, I recommend the visit!

~Kristen

Monday, August 2, 2021

The Last Drops of Summer

It's finally starting to dawn on me that my summer is ending. After the longest, most difficult school year of my entire career, those precious few months have whittled down to only two weeks. I'm both excited and nervous about what this fall will bring.

Like many other educators, I've tried to spend the summer relaxing, or at the very least keeping my blood pressure down (LOL!). I'm not exaggerating when I say that thinking about the past school year triggers my anxiety; between my extended illness, incidents of racism/homophobia, a lack of resources, and constantly changing health measures, my body was just done. To say that the break was needed is an understatement. 
But I'm slowly bringing myself back. I've started cleaning and organizing the house, preparing for the fall. And I have a school book wishlist if you're interested in buying a book for my classroom. I've had a hard time being creative at all, but I'm slowly doing little projects here and there. Within the next few weeks, I hope to be in the right state of mind to be back to my cheerful, teaching self. My students deserve that, just as much as I do!

~Kristen

A Baby Shower, Historic House Style

Let me just start by saying no...I'm not pregnant! But my cousin Juliana is, and after missing her wedding because of COVID, I was reall...