Sign of the times

On the public message board at my Stop & Shop today.

I love this sign.
Love, too, that it’s anonymous.


We’re setting up a forum so we can all share. So be on the lookout.

His latest work is A Life Well-Lived, a selection of photos and stories of people across Nebraska highlighting their stories from the past 70 years. These are photographs and stories of those who might be forgotten in the rush of history.

It’s all good weather

8 a.m., our backyard.

People talk about the weather. But today nature gave us some weather we really should talk about. 

Here in the Hudson Valley, we woke up to snow on the ground (and the patio umbrellas and poor daffodils, which have a hard time keeping their heads up as it is).

It’s flippin’ mid-May, OK??

Then, as I’m taking photos to document the  situation, the sun breaks through the clouds. Streams through the trees, the melting starts to glisten.

I look up to the sky, hoping for a snow-bow.

It got sunny enough, and just warm enough  in fact, that by midday we roused the dog and told her she was going for a walk. She donned her harness,  I donned a winter coat  (it was sorta cold) and  sunglasses (it was really sunny).

Off we went. We heard birds. Looked at the stream. Belle trotted nonchalantly past the barking dogs doing crazy circles behind the invisible fence.

We turned a corner.

And the snowflakes began.   I thought at first they were just the little white petals falling off the trees right now.

But no. It was snow. Again.  Teeny, tight  balls of ice-snow.

Then came the wind.  It whistled. Trees creaked. I hunkered into my coat, doing that  huddle-into-a-ball thing that makes you fell cold just to think about. 

 Belle was oblivious. Her coat is thick and soft and various shades of  brown and black.  She was covered in the little snow balls. 

She looked like a furry salted  pretzel.

Belle’s fur salted in snow.

As we huddled back toward our house, the snowflakes got bigger and fluffier,  filling the air coming down like Christmas. It was beautiful.


We got inside. I couldn’t feel my hands. Belle looked annoyed when I tried to towel her dry.

What was it with the weather?

Once I could feel my ears again, I thought, wait, this is a gift. 

We got winter, and spring. We got dark, and light. We got big fluffy snowflakes and  new, green grass.

We got everything in just one day. Very efficient. Very dramatic. Very in-your face.

The Yin and the Yang.

You need  one to appreciate the other. Today, as  we look around us in isolation, Mother Nature gave us a nice big  whack in the face, just in case we hadn’t remembered that.

4 p.m.  walking home as fast as we could.                                                                                                                                                                                              PHOTOS BY PAUL WILDER



















Hands off the sanitizer

sanioverviewReally? Has it come to this?

Hand sanitizer under lock and key?

I saw  on my way out of the big  medical facility where my doctor works.  The telltale pump, sticking out of some sort casing.20200421_144845

I approached slowly, fearing an alarm might go off if I got too close.  Nothing happened. Except I had to take a deep breath (yeah, I was wearing a mask)  and stand still for a minute. Gob-smacked and shaking my head.

Theft-proof hand sanitizer. In some kind of acrylic (perhaps bullet-proof?) display case.  With a hole at the top just big enough to allow the pump to stick out and, well, you couldn’t possible stick your hand in. Or maybe you could figure out something, if you were a professional jewel thief. Or MacGyver.

It could be opened, of course, to be refilled. But only if you had the key to the lock. The lock that was the exclamation point on the tacit message:

We don’t trust you.

I took some pictures of this bizarre sight, this snapshot of the time in which we find ourselves.

Nobody looked at me, nobody turned to at least agree with my wonder at the theft-proof sanitizer. That seemed odd, too.  I was, after all, taking photos of hand sanitizer.  Even the two men working on the nearby elevator  didn’t react to my clearly audible mutterings, like “sheesh” and “this is crazy,” and “what have we become?”

No reaction. No surprise.

I guess they were used to sights like these.

I guess I should have been too.

The first time I went to my doctor after COVID raised its ugly viral parts,  the nurse said that when no one was watching, some  patients would steal the protective  gloves from the  dispensers. On this, my third visit, the dispensers were empty altogether. They’d been moved to some secret location — my nurse had to go off to get a  pair….

Whatever happened to all that cheering, all those signs: “Thank you health care workers!”

Are we really that desperate?

Haven’t we learned a few things in these months of crisis?

Like:  Plain old soap will clean your hands of COVID.

Like: You can wear gardening gloves or even washable  Playtex gloves,

Or, most important, like:  We will only get through this if we work together and care for each other.

After considering the hand sanitizer from a variety of angles, I realized that putting the bottle  in the thick acrylic box elevated it to another level.  Made it look  important, rare, a relic of a special era in human history. 

 Like something you’d see in a museum.

And perhaps, some day, it will be just, and only, that