I still go to grocery stores. I wear my mask and maintain social distance. Usually I go early in the morning when the stores are less crowded and store shelves are being re-stocked. Recently, although I was more than six feet away, I heard two employees talking as they worked. One had received his first Covid-19 shot a week earlier and he was describing the process and the side effects he felt. He said he felt great within twenty-four hours. I couldn’t help congratulating him on getting the vaccine. He looked a little surprised, then pleased when he realized I was sincere.

Hopefully, you are one of those who have at least the first shot. For the rest of us, getting a vaccine appointment has been a lot like playing Whack-A-Mole.

In self-defense, I have decided not to play. I have registered with at least four places, including my health care provider. All have promised to alert me when and where I can get a vaccination. The problem for all of the vaccination clinics is the shortage of the doses and the lack of information on how many doses they will receive until the very last minute. There is nothing I can do to change these facts, but I can avoid getting caught up in any perceived unfairness in the process.

This is certainly not the first pandemic we have faced. Many of us know a little about the 1918 flu pandemic, but even earlier than that, from 1775-1782, we faced a smallpox pandemic in the Western hemisphere. Smallpox infected Europe early on. Columbus carried the disease to the new world and the disease decimated native populations.

According to an article on George Washington and smallpox in Wikipedia, the very first smallpox vaccinations took place in Europe when Lady Mary Wortley Montagu had her children vaccinated against smallpox in 1670.

When it struck the Western hemisphere in 1775 there were two ways to deal with the disease – quarantine or inoculation. The inoculations were not as refined as our versions today and many were justifiably fearful of the inoculations. (Sound familiar?)

For history nerds, Phyllis Levin, in her biography of Abigail Adams, relates the story of how Abigail and John inoculated their family against the disease. It was not for the faint of heart!

Recently, NPR interviewed Ken Burns. When asked about four challenges the U.S. has faced over the years, he mentioned Covid-19. Commenting of the possibility of successfully vaccinating a sufficient number of people in the U.S. to establish “herd immunity”, he pointed out that in 1947, New York vaccinating six million people against smallpox in one month. His point – it can be done.

If you are unsure about getting the Covid-19 vaccination, I hope you will carefully consider what the alternative could be. Covid -19 is a deadly disease that has killed thousands of people.



It has been said, wisely, that if you sell your house, you should not return to see what the new owners have done to your house. There are several good reasons for this:

  1. The house (your former home!) will look very different to you. The happy fog of memory makes you think the house was larger and more elegant that it really was – your return visit will confirm it isn’t
  2. The new owners may have changed the house by painting or construction. Undoubtedly, their choice of day-glow orange instead of the sedate cream you prefer will cause shock and dismay.
  3. You will either gloat over the great deal you made when you sold the house, or you will regret what you see because you mistakenly believe your fond memories of life in the house have vanished with the sale. Both are uncomfortable positions.

I’m beginning to think that revisiting favorite fictional characters can have much the same effect. We all have television shows featuring characters so intriguing that we are somewhat saddened when their long-running shows go off the air – for example, The Big Bang Theory. From this, sequels are born.

Jane Austin’s novels and characters are often subjects of sequels. Recently I re-read Sense and Sensibility. I followed that by re-reading Eliza’s Daughter by Joan Aiken, a sequel to Sense and Sensibility. It is well-researched by the author who passed away some time ago. My disappointment comes when Ms. Aiken tells us what happens to several of the main characters of Sense and Sensibility; the three sisters Elinor, Marianne, Margaret and Edward and Colonel Brandon.

It turns out, according to the sequel, that Elinor, who has married Edward, lives in abject poverty with her skin-flint husband. They have a very spoiled daughter. They lost a son when he was only five years old. I had high-hopes for Elinor. She was the sensible sister, She turned into a spineless, quietly bitter woman, very submissive to her husband.

Her sister, Marianne, married Colonel Brandon. They are alluded to in the sequel. They are reputedly very well off. Marianne is quite selfish. She lives in relative comfort while her sister and family live on the estate in poverty.

Margaret, the youngest of the sisters, became a teacher at a school for young ladies. This is not considered a very high-status profession. She, too, seems to be afraid of crossing her penny-pinching brother-in-law Edward.

Such a disappointment! You always hope the characters that had potential develop into strong, confident characters in their sequels. But that is often not the case. It probably makes for a better story when they don’t.

I have high-hopes for another, real-life sequel- the U.S. after the Trump presidency. As long as the major character leaves the scene and is not featured in the sequel, we should be fine.