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Looking out my Backdoor: Old dogs learn new tricks


March 26, 2020

How quickly we progressed from refusing hugs and handshakes, to isolating in voluntary quarantine.

In the mornings when Leo came to work our gardens, he calls out, “Sondrita, are you alive.”

“Just a minute, let me check. Breathing? Yes, Heart beating? Yes. I’m alive.”

Our governor of Jalisco has asked everybody to stay home for five days, to help “flatten the curve.” How quickly we learn the new language. Will everybody stay home? Of course not. For those of us who are “of an age,” we might recall when we, too, were invincible.

Churches and bars, restaurants, street markets, government offices, all are closed. The streets are empty. Schools closed weeks ago.

Never have I washed my hands so frequently. I wipe down patio chairs with soapy bleach water after neighbors visit. We maintain “social distance” of at least two meters in the open air patio. Short visits, no sharing food or drink.

Visits will soon be a memory. Like rats abandoning the sinking ship for a leaky raft, my neighbors are all headed northerly. It is not an easy decision. The Rancho with few human contacts is probably a safer place, each of us in our isolated enclave. But home is home.

For me, this is home. My children tell me, “Mom, stay, you are in a good place.”

But, let me tell you about yesterday. I thought I was dying.

Within a few minutes of sitting down with morning coffee, I began to feel strangely disoriented.

My world wobbled. If I closed my eyes, I felt like I floated out of my body. In a rather pleasant way, but … My thoughts were erratic, disjointed. Did I have a stroke? Shouldn’t there be more pain? I’m not afraid. I sat with that thought a moment. Yes, I am afraid. A little. I wonder if I am dying. This is not a bad way to die. I just wish I didn’t feel so loopy.

Like a drunk, I weaved my way to the bedroom. Blood pressure measured 122/70. So my heart must be okay, right? Back to the chair.

But sitting in a chair is not the best place to die. What if I fell onto the floor? I’d rather die in bed. I weaved and wobbled to my bedroom. While trying to stay focused, my eyes fell on the basket on top of my shelf, a basket containing aspirin, Vicks, paracetamol and my anti-inflammatory. In the middle of the basket the CBD oil caught my attention.

After my morning shower, in preparation for therapy exercises, because I felt more pain than my new usual, I had grabbed the CBD, which I had not used in two or three weeks. The stuff helps. Distracted, I unthinkingly squirted the dropper bulb and shot a dropper’s worth under my tongue rather than the carefully measured drop.

This particular bottle is a home brew from a friend. Who knows how it was made, or of what. But, a drop at a time, it was effective. I wonder if …

About that time, Leo came by. I called him to my window. Told him how I felt. He asked a few questions. “Sondrita, I think you are stoned.”

Jim and Josue showed up at my window screen next, asked their questions. When I giggled my answers and told them I was dying, they hoo-hawed with delight. “Hey, trippy! You are stoned. Wait it out. Enjoy. It will pass.”

John came by next, bringing me another pint of hand-sanitizer. Goodness, these men got a hoot out of my near-death experience.

I relaxed. I certainly felt no pain. I could barely feel my body. Over a several hours, the feelings of disorientation passed. I could close my eyes without entering another universe.

In these grave times, pardon my pun, I am happy to report I am breathing and my heart is beating.

Without panic, please be safe, be sensible. I send you virtual hugs with real love, along with these words from Pope Francis:

“Tonight before falling asleep, think about when we will return to the street. When we hug again. When all the shopping together will seem like a party. Let’s think about when the coffees will return to the bar, the small talk, the photos close together. We think about when it will all be a memory, but normality will seem an unexpected and beautiful gift. We will love everything that has so far seemed futile to us. Every second will be precious, swims at the sea, the sun until late, sunsets, toasts, laughter. We will go back to laughing together. Strength and Courage.”


Sondra Ashton grew up in Harlem but spent most of her adult life out of state. She returned to see the Hi-Line with a perspective of delight. After several years back in Harlem, Ashton is seeking new experiences in Etzatlan, Mexico. Once a Montanan, always. Read Ashton’s essays and other work at http://montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com/. Email [email protected]


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