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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

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Lives Altered: Reactions to COVID-19

Almost overnight, lives around the world were greatly altered as the novel Covid-19 virus spread from nation to nation. While devastating in its destructiveness and painful in how it brings great sorrow to families, another side has emerged that has brought positive change to many.

Our rural area, while relatively sheltered from the spread of the virus due to sparse proximity living, also has been deeply impacted by the protective measures we have adopted to ensure that our families stay as healthy as possible. These “social distancing” practices, closed work offices and cancellation of events and gatherings have had isolating effects. While this can result in feelings of despair, fear and depression, some of our local friends have found a silver lining in such a drastically altered lifestyle forced upon us with no notice.

We put a call out to see what people have been doing to pass the time during the last month and here are some of their responses. We hope you enjoy reading them and that you will share with us your ideas for seeking positive moments in turbulent times.

We stand together with you and hope that all of your families stay healthy and find hope in each of your days.

“We have been framing all our beautiful portraits of kids for families who live with this kind of thing everyday, painting our bedroom, and scribing long hand-written letters.” -Elaine, from Long Creek, is the founder of a wonderful organization that connects artists with seriously ill children to create paintings of the child. See her website at www.portraitconnection.org

“I’m doing fine and have been busy painting and working in my garden. An afternoon of plain air painting at the Fossil beds with a friend and a painting of the most sought after item in the world…toilet paper!! I pray for all the people who are suffering with their health and the inconveniences this has caused financially and in so many other ways.” -Patricia Ross, from Mt. Vernon, is a fine art painter. See her work on Instagram at @pross_fineart

“I am loving being home with my 15 and 13 soon to be 14 year old. Right now, it reminds me of simpler times…working and playing from home. We live on a ranch. We have lots to do outside. Right now, we don’t worry about running here and there…for practices, games, meetings, and fundraisers are over. It is just us and time together, nowhere to be and nothing that has to be attended. The pressures as a parent getting their kids to this and that are all gone. Yes, education is important and yes, the kids should be in school. I can only imagine how they might feel not having to be shuttled around or busy here and there. It has been nice to take a step back. I know activities are good, but so is family time and being together without outside pressures.” -Didgette McCracken, from John Day, is the OSU Grant County Open Campus Coordinator and also coordinator of the Grant County Marketing Team.

“I have noticed things about myself and the way we live our lives that are changing. We are project-oriented driven. But we both enjoy completing tasks such as planting trees, gardening, building spaces, harvesting rainwater and cutting firewood. But carving out time or at least blocks of time to just breath usually only occurs over meals with friends or visitors that stay for a few days, always starting around the first of April until the first snowfall. Our home is a refuge for our circle, a great place for a beverage and long chats. I must say I will truly miss this special time. Now we embrace that it is OK to do this alone, just with each other, regardless of reason. Yes, it is alright to not always be “doing”. I know how fortunate we are and am grateful for my life. Now is the time to relax into the moment and let some things slide because it’s all looking so different now.” -Geoff Loftin and Val Neilson, from Monument, bring life to their property through creative carpentry and gardening.

“Since there isn’t preschool the boys have more time to play together. And they are coming out to the bee yard with me all the time since we aren’t using any childcare. Spring is a busy season for us. Sometimes the boys gear up in their protective bee veils and Teddy asks questions about what we are doing. Other times they ride their bikes around. Leo has learned how to glide on his balance bike. It is kind of fun having them out in the field, but not without challenges. There has been some long days, I work slower, taking more frequent breaks to check on them. The honey stand still has traffic. And thankfully we have a lot of hold over honey from last year to meet the demand. Teddy and I have been picking lots of bouquets and giving them away to friends and leaving some out at the honey stand to bring smiles. Leo also gets a bit of a preschool preview with the materials Teddy receives in his weekly packet. -Liz Lovelock, from Kimberly, is a co-owner with husband Matt Allen of Apricot Apiaries.

“I’ve set up a remote access on my parent’s computer so I can help them with technical support, download games and apps to keep them occupied during the “sit in” since I can’t visit in their retirement community. They are now participating in our weekly family Zoom meetings…and we’re including family on the East Coast and in Denmark. This week I hosted a “Zoom Birthday Party” for my dog Finn, who turned one on April 13. We celebrated with seven of the nine “littermates” and their families throughout Oregon. It was really fun to see how the dogs have grown and compare notes. First time we have all met. Definitely spending more time talking on the phone with friends and family, so I get to hear voices. I am taking the increased “me time” to be present in the moment and get to a lot of home and personal projects that I haven’t been able to get to for a long time.”  -Anne Mitchell, from Fossil, manages an AirBnB and is involved in many economic development projects in the John Day River Territory


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