Virtually Together

Worldwide humanity is in isolation...together.

I'm glad to be holed up here in Switzerland with my husband, Joe and younger daughter, Maureen. But unfortunately part of my family, my older daughter, Colleen, is many miles and time zones away in San Diego, CA.

Colleen and her best bud, Loki.

Since we can't physically be together, technology has become our bridge during this challenging time.

Thank goodness for WhatsApp for daily texts, calls and shared memes. And thank goodness to Zoom for a long distance Game Night!

What it looked like on her side... what it looked like on ours.
It was like having Colleen 'sitting' on the couch with us!

We played AKA: Also Known As, the only game where my weird brain feature of remembering things a little adjacent to what they are comes in handy! I was actually good at this game and we had a lot of laughs playing.

It is awful that we are all living in this new reality. But at the same time, super cool that there is technology to help us ease the pain of being apart from our loved ones.

Another side effect of this new reality is the distancing of friendships. Maureen and her friends had a novel solution for throwing a birthday party for one of their friends...doing it on the platform, Discord. The guests all dressed up and came together on the internet.

Doesn't she look gorgeous?
Waiting for the party to begin...
...and Mom, you can leave now.

The technology was a little persnickety, but briefly some teens in Switzerland were able to get dressed up and hang out celebrating a friend's birthday...virtually together.

I'm not thrilled with this current reality, but I am thankful for the internet and the many ways humans are adapting to connect the near with the far.

Speaking of current reality, as of this writing "Switzerland has a higher infection rate than Italy" according to the local newspaper, 20 Minuten. That is some scary news. We are all OK, but we take great care when we leave the house to grocery shop or walk the dog or when Joe has to go into the office a few days a week.

Today's poem is my vision for how society is weathering our new reality:

weaving the new 
fabric of society
©2020, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Welcome Poetry Friday community! 
is hosting the poetry round up. Thank you, Tabatha!

Cramping My Style

Dear Wee Words Readers,

Smidgey here. 

I've got a problem. Actually make that three problems: Mom, Dad, and Maureen.
Here they are...doing stuff without me.

 They are majorly cramping my style. Suddenly they are home. All. The. Time. I used to get sad when they did stuff without me. I'm not ashamed to admit that I used to wait by the door sometimes.
The good old days?

 But now? Now I can't get a moment's rest. OK, let's be real, I can sleep anytime and anywhere, but now during my naps all I hear is blah, blah, blah. They are constantly talking to each other, they are having 'meetings' with strangers on their phones, and they are playing music non-stop! (Mom's Spotify playlist is not as great as she thinks it is. Depeche Mode alongside Lizzo? Really? How about some Three Dog Night people?)

Today I had to muscle out Mom just to get a chance to use this laptop.

 For the last few days that woman has been sitting at the computer non-stop. Well, actually she does stop because we go for walks, but it feels like she is always there. She keeps saying she has "work" to do. What the heck? Then go to work, woman! And while you're at it, make Dad go to work, too! And make Maureen go to school! (Well, maybe leave Maureen home. She likes to cuddle with me during the day and I do like that.)

I'm not 100% sure why they are staying home. They said something about Social Distancing and the Coronavirus or some other blah, blah, blah stuff. I know all about social distancing, I've been doing it for years. I scream bark and all other dogs and humans keep their distance. Works for me. But now the humans are doing it and it is cramping my style. But what's a dog to do?

Wait, is someone eating cheese in the kitchen? Gotta go. Crumbs might be happening. Maybe having them stay home all day isn't that bad, they do make food in the kitchen all day long...

Do you have cheese?


P.S. Today I wrote my poem as a direct request to my family.

if you must stay home
keep it quiet
and add extra cheese
to my diet
©2020, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Also, welcome Poetry Friday community. Michelle Kogan is hosting and all the poetry goodness can be found at her blog here.

Wash Your Palms and Quarantine On

(Wash the rest of your hands, too! Especially between your fingers, the backs of your hands and your thumbs...they tend to get forgotten.)

As with the rest of the world, we are social distancing. None of us are sick. I repeat, we are all fine! But like everyone else, we are following the expert advice to stay put until things get better.

As of this writing, Switzerland has 2,200 confirmed cases of Coronavirus. This number is reflective of the fact that they haven't been testing everyone with symptoms for several weeks now so I fear the number of actual infections is far higher. We know of one family where one member tested positive, but they didn't test the rest of the family despite all living under the same roof from time of exposure, onset of symptoms, and then the positive test result. The family had gone about their daily lives until the positive test result of the one member. They have now been in self isolation for just over a week.

Switzerland is in the top 10 of countries most affected with Covid-19 along with the US, Germany, and many other bigger European countries. Given the size of Switzerland and our proximity to Italy, this feels very real for us. For the latest info from the Swiss government:

On Friday, 13 March, the government finally announced that schools would be closing until 4 April. That date is the beginning of our spring break, so Maureen and I won't be returning to our brick and mortar school until 20 April. In the meantime, we are enjoying distance/online learning/teaching.

Joe on the other hand, works to maintain machines that produce life saving products. While most of Roche are telecommuting, Joe and a few of his colleagues will be rotating shifts on-site, with no two knowledgeable colleagues there at the same time to minimize cross contamination that would leave production without its vital support. So he works from home today, at the facility tomorrow.

Home work time.

We normally go grocery shopping on Friday nights as it is not too crowded, the stores are open a little later, and it is usually well stocked as the store readies for the throngs who shop on Saturdays.

Not our normal scene last Friday right after the school closure announcement:

Fresh produce department....
Want 3 rotty limes?

...creepily empty.
Even the fresh, refrigerated meat section was empty:

 The canned and dry goods were still readily available. The whole scene was weird. 

And of course, there was no toilet paper at any store we've visited in the last 48 hours. We actually are running low...

Picture taken today, still not a roll in sight.

But know that there were tools in the store if this turns into a zombie apocalypse:

Joe will be ready!
UPDATE 17 March: The Swiss Authorities have implemented new restriction with the closure of all "shops, restaurants, bars, entertainment and leisure facilities". It is interesting to note that along with grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks remaining open in Switzerland so are BAKERIES! I love this about the Swiss, they've got their priorities right - baked goods!

BOLD PREDICTION: So, knowing what I know about humans and previous historical events where people had to stay home, I predict in 9 to 10 months there will be a bump in the population worldwide. And I predict some of these new babies will be named Corona or Covid. AND, when these kids are in the 13 to 19 age range, we can call them 'quarantines'. See what I did there?

Today's poem is my best attempt to capture my anxious heart as we deal with our new reality:

the mood locally,
and internationally
feels heavy,
and uncertain

humanity is both
untethered and
unnerved as
we wade through
the uncharted territory
that is our
new normal:

we humans are
brought together
and kept apart
by a virulent pathogen 
reminding us that
we are all mortal 
therefore we have
a responsibility 
to keep one another
regardless of age
or medical history

©2020, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

M.E. Adventure Part 3: Come On to Oman

Today is the final chapter in our Middle East Adventure, highlighting our trip to Oman.

If you ever get the chance to visit Oman, I HIGHLY recommend it. It is beautiful, the people are incredibly friendly, and surprisingly, it is tourist/English-speaking friendly.

We live in Switzerland, in the heart of Europe, and almost three years on we still have trouble reading some signs and food packages, or communicating to complete the simplest transactions, yet in Oman everything was in Arabic and English. Everything.

Doesn't the Arabic look like two guys in a canoe?
Joe and the Food Stuff Sales sign.

Without that cute face distracting you.

The best sign was when real life happened just as the sign described:

We saw this sign then...

...this happened!

A herd of camels literally crossed the freeway right in front of us! A truck parked diagonally blocking both directions of travel, then a herd trotted across the road, some camels were being ridden, some not. It was the craziest (coolest) sight! In fact we saw a lot of camels in Oman:

As common as cows by the road.

And of course, being from Switzerland, we had to sample Camel Milk Chocolate.

It was delicious.

 There were a lot goats, too. Some like to pose:

Photo courtesy of Joe.
And we stayed in a couple of mountain oasis spots:

Entrance to our accommodations.

Maureen and I shared a room...

...with a gecko who oversaw our night's sleep.
Along with overnight accommodations, dinner and breakfast was on offer always with dates and Cardamom coffee. Yum for some...
We hiked all over:


With only one mishap:
Only a couple of dislocated fingers and...

...a gash on my arm.
Props to my personal 'medics' who patched me up MacGyver style. 😉

Because of our expert driver/tour guide/nephew extraordinaire we got to see these incredible views:

This was my favorite view.

After driving down a mountain...sometime it felt like it was literally straight down.

Even in the heart of Oman, you can still get WiFi, just remember to use it wisely.

Again, I can't recommend Oman enough. It was really an amazing experience. Come on to Oman!

Today's poem is an Ode to Oman:

Oh Oman!

Thank you for your craggy mountains 
that tower above deep canyons
and sparsely populated valleys.

Thank you for the mountain goats 
that roam freely among your 
rock-rolled faces.

Thank you for the camels that 
traverse your scrub-dotted terrain.

Thank you for the date palm trees
that signal the inviting
oasis villages.

Thank you for welcoming
travelers from afar
with your English signs,
readily offered dates 
and Cardamom coffee
and camel milk chocolate.

Oh Oman, you are simply beautiful.

©2020, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

M.E. Adventure Part 2: Yabba Dabba Doo

So, I have always had a funny relationship with words. Since forever my brain has had a way of making me remember names/words that are a little adjacent to the exact name/word I am trying to recall. My girls call it "Mom-Speak", but I can assure you, I've been doing this long before I ever became a mom.

Case in point: for the longest time and for the life of me, I could not remember the name Abu Dhabi even though we have family living there. I kept referring to it as Yabba Dabba Doo...much to the chagrin of everyone. BUT, they all knew what I was talking about! This just proves that even though my brain is a bit wonky, I can still get my meaning across. : )

Anywaaay, as I mentioned in M.E. Adventure: Part 1, we traveled to Yabba Dabba Doo...uh, Abu Dhabi so we could do this:

I like YOU!
Surprise scruffies.

And to celebrate with these people:

Happy Birthday Honey Cake!

While we were there, when we were not holding the baby, we did do some sightseeing:

The Presidential Palace:

Opulence much?
Opulent, but actually quite soothing color choices.
Our cute little tour guide.

A visit to the Abu Dhabi location of the Louvre Art Museum (yeah, THAT Louvre, like the one in Paris, but in the UAE instead) :

We didn't get a chance to go inside, but we did eat at a FANCY French restaurant next to the museum for Joe's birthday.

Unfortunately it was colder than we expected and Joe had to wear my scarf as a shall:

We went to the Grand Mosque:

Pretty darn grand.
Dressed in tradition clothes provided by Mosque.
Pretty, but most of the facility was off limits to visitors.
The most surprising (and disturbing) part of the Mosque visit was the fact that you have to pass through a literal MALL when you enter and exit the tour! Most of the stores and food counters were American - including a Cinnabon!

No visit to a Mosque is complete without a purchase of a stuffed banana.

In my humble opinion, the neighborhood mosques are much prettier than the 'Grand' one:

A neighborhood mosque near the grocery store.

Geographically, Abu Dhabi is especially unique because it is a desert on the shores of the Persian Gulf. It is a kind of strange juxtaposition of geographic regions:

Having grown up in Orange County, California, I was struck by how much Abu Dhabi reminded me of OC - for better or worse. I did not feel like I was in what I had imagined the Middle East to be.

Full moon shining on modern hotels...
...that have a prayer space in the hotel lobby.

But at the end of the day, being with our family was the best part of visiting Yabba Dabba Doo 😉

Today's poem is about the "joys" of babies that you might forget once your kids are grown:

tiny tickles
on his tummy
soon after
something yummy

baby giggles
face lights up

and then OOPS
he spits up

©2020, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Catch up on the first installment: M.E. Adventure Part 1: Hair Tomorrow?