It’s a Wrap, 2020: Holidays, Hope & ‘Gift a Book’ Ideas

Volumes will be written about the madness of this very mad year, but if you’re reading this post, the good news is you’ve survived so far and will, hopefully, continue to be safe, healthy, and ready to welcome a never more anticipated turn of the page! 

My own year has been admittedly slim on celebratory content, but we Wilkes, like so many others, remain grateful for what we can celebrate: our family’s good health (which I hope extends to each of your own), continuing creativity (albeit of the less performance kind), a more encompassing relationship with streaming TV, and a new, hope-inducing American administration (thanks to ALL who helped with that essential goal!).                    

Beyond wanting to take this timely opportunity to wish you all a holiday that’s as jolly as social distancing, masks, backyard dinners, Zoom gatherings, and limited household pods will allow, I also want to introduce you to four authors, with whom I’m friends and colleagues via our shared publisher She Writes Press, whose award-winning books will make brilliant choices for your holiday gift giving.   

You might recall, way, way back before the scourge descended, that I wrote about how I’d be appearing with these authors at the famed Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, something we were all looking forward to. But, as COVID would have it, not only was the original April date scrapped, but the subsequent October date was as well, with future options currently undetermined.

We decided to take matters into our own hands. 

Given our respect for each other’s works, and wanting to stick with the group effort (even if, sadly, without the cool booth and fun cookie and bookmark giveaways!), we decided to do a December “Gift a Book” Event, mutually presenting all five books as gift-giving suggestions, inspired by a quote of Garrison Keillor’s:“A book is a gift you can open again and again.”

To that end, let me share info & links about each author and book for your easy access:

Romalyn Tilghman’s, To the Stars Through Difficulties, tells the story of a group of contemporary women who join forces to revive a library and arts center in a small town destroyed by a tornado, inspired by found journals recounting the original building of the Carnegie Library.
 
Kimberly Robeson, a Greek-American professor of world lit & creative writing at Los Angeles Valley College, and co-advisor of the college’s LGBTQ+ Club, brings her native mythology to her debut novel, The Greek Persuasion, a fascinating story of a woman’s international search for love & sexual identity.
 
Judith Teitelman, development consultant, educator & facilitator, describes her debut novel, Guesthouse for Ganesha, as “magical realism,” a tale of love, loss & spirit reclaimed with a tagline that asks: Left at the altar, spurned—what does that do to a young woman’s heart? And why would a Hindu God care? 

Dr. Marika Lindholm, a trained sociologist who founded ESME.com, a social movement of solo moms, is co-editor of We Got This, essays by 75 women sharing their resilience & setbacks, follies & triumphs, with the powerful message that no one—not even those mothering solo—is truly alone.

And, of course, my own book, my third novel, The Alchemy  of Noise, a sociopolitical love story that tackles issues of racial injustice, police profiling, and subsequent challenges faced by an interracial couple whose relationship asks the question, “Can love bridge the distance between two Americas?” 

We also got together with author/teacher, Bella Mahaya Carter, to talk a bit about each of our books; click below for that lively conversation! 

I hope you’ll explore each of these wonderful, eclectic titles, and pick up copies for your own and other’s reading pleasure… I guarantee you’ll enjoy them all!

And that’s it for this, our mutually endured “Annus Horribilis 2020,” (in a nod to Queen Elizabeth!). Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays; Smashing New Year, every and all loving, inclusive, diverse salutations with my hopes, affirmations, prayers, and wishes that 2021 brings a fresh start, positive change, renewed hope, and a return to full body hugs, visible faces, indoor dining, and joyful, unencumbered gatherings in our many squares around the world. Until then… all my best!  

Woman in Mask photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Pandemic Protocol: Walking When the Only Distance That Matters is Six Feet

You’d think it was a given, walking. We’ve all been doing it for decades, most can manage it while chewing gum, and certainly at this time of “permission to be lazy” (aka: “shelter at home”), anyone getting out and walking should be applauded, not critiqued.

But it seems, like so many other things these days, that lives — and frayed nerves — depend on how we do things, even the most basic things, so maybe a little “pandemic protocol” when it comes to our last allowed outdoor activity might be helpful.

So… I’ve been out; walking, getting sun, breathing air, all necessary for my mental and physical health, and always with utmost adherence to social distancing mandates. For weeks I was accessing various walking paths in my neighborhood, a favorite being one that winds down to and through my local beach with a wide, meandering bike/walk path that allows for miles of hearty, scenic outdoor activity. Every time I’ve availed myself of it, I made note that people were vigilant about observing sufficient spacing, cyclists flew by without incident, and those on the beach were set with well over six feet in between. The largest “groups” I saw were small family units of three or four on a blanket, or a couple walking together on the path. No “Florida at Spring Break” mayhem here, so I felt confident we were doing it right.

Not so much.

It turns out my neighborhood was, perhaps, an anomaly; photographs popped up on various media depicting other Los Angeles beaches and trails where excessive crowds were defying social distancing orders, congregating shoulder-to-shoulder, on both beaches and mountain trails, with impunity. Either they hadn’t gotten the memo or they were feeling defiant, but Mayor Eric Garcetti was having none of it. In short order, all LA county beaches, bike paths, multi-use trails and natural areas were closed to the public, with parking lots chained and official personnel on hand to suggest we move along.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

What this has meant to my outdoor exercise regimen, and that of many others, is the relegation, en masse, of all walkers to local neighborhood streets and smaller paths accessible by foot. Which means LOTS more people are now traversing where few had been prior, exhibiting a panoply of walking behaviors that swing from dutiful and friendly to aggressively uncooperative, leading me to realize, particularly after hearing from others who’ve had similar experiences in the wilds of city streets and sidewalks, that a “Pandemic Protocol for Public Walking” may be necessary.

Main rule? MOVE OVER! That’s pretty much it… every rude, thoughtless, health-endangering behavior on a public walkway comes down to that. But let’s throw out some specifics for the sake of discussion:

1. GET IN YOUR LANE — I’m by myself, tucked over on the right-hand side of the sidewalk; you’re coming toward me, but, for some reason, you’re more in the middle. As we approach, I look at you, you look at me, but you don’t move to your right. RULE? GET IN YOUR LANE! All the way to your right; ALL THE WAY. Even that, depending on sidewalk width, may not give us the prescribed six feet, but if it’s the best we got, take it. Don’t make me have to tromp into the brush along the sidewalk to give us space. Don’t make me have to ask you to move. It’s obvious. Get in your lane. Thank you.

2. STAY IN YOUR LANE — This may seem redundant, but it has specificity to it. I’m behind you, tucked on the right once again; you’re walking slower than me, so as I approach I’m going to use a passing maneuver. But just as I position my trajectory to do that, you start wandering to your left, blocking me. I slow down, assess whether I can now pass you on the right; just as I’m about to make that move, you ever-so-slowly wander back to your original position, causing me to screech to a halt until you’re back in place. RULE? STAY IN YOUR LANE. Realize others may walk at a different, faster pace and, given the need to not bump shoulders or brush hips, you’ll do everyone a favor by keeping to the right.

3. THE SINGLE FILE RULE — You’re with your Mom, your friend, your significant other; someone you’re close enough to, or live with, that you’re unconcerned about prescribed distances. It’s a lovely day, you’re walking abreast of each other, deep in conversation, when here I come, to your left, on my right, in my lane… but you two (or three) are taking up all the lanes in your approach. What to do? (Does it really need to be said?) MOVE INTO A SINGLE FILE. Don’t wait to be asked. Don’t make me stop. You see me, you know I’m headed your way; you know there’s no room (or not enough) for me to get by, so be a walking mensch and preemptively move behind each other in a single file. I promise it’ll only be a few seconds before I’m past, and then you can go happily arm-in-arm again.

4. DOG-WALKERS: LEASH & CLEAR THE PATH — I’ve love dogs, I’ve owned dogs, I know basic dog-walking drills, the slow, sniffing, stop-every-three-feet rhythm of a curious dog thrilled to be outside and moving. On those wider, wilder nature paths we used to be able to traverse in pre-pandemic days, dogs were often off-leash, gamboling freely and without incident. Now? We’re all stuck on the same neighborhood streets and short local paths, so dogs, like humans, have to step it up. Of course, it’s on the humans to make that happen. RULE: Leashes without question. And if your dog is slowly sniffing in my lane while you stand in yours, CLEAR THE PATH. Move Fido out of my way so I don’t have to stop or walk around you, particularly if, together, you’re taking up the whole sidewalk. Thank you. Your dog is really cute.

5. WORKING ON SIDEWALKS & PATHS? CLEAR! — I had this happen the other day: I was coming up a path from town, up to my neighborhood, and there were two men taking pictures of erosion repairs being done on the adjacent hillside. I could see them from a distance, it’s a narrow path, but no problem; they’ll move. They didn’t move. These two large men with cameras continued taking photographs, both standing so that I could not possibly get by without either climbing up the hillside or down into the scrub on my left. They looked at me without reaction and kept shooting as I walked closer. Despite proximity, and in a game of “social distancing chicken,” I continued on, wondering if I was ultimately going to have to holler “MOVE” or actually shove past them, when finally the one in my lane slowly moved over. Slowly. As if I were inconveniencing him. I wasn’t. It took me all of a second to move past. I had an impulse to say something nasty. I didn’t. But don’t do that. We’re all in this together, as we’re so constantly reminded. Be courteous, be rational; don’t make whatever rare interactions we have with our fellow humans these days any more curmudgeonly than need to be. We are the world.

6. GROUPS — This one’s easy: NO GROUPS. “Groups” shouldn’t be walking on any paths, playing any basketball; kicking around soccer balls, clotting in farmers’ markets, traversing any trails or sidewalks. There should be NO “groups” out and about anywhere. None. At all. ANYWHERE. Not until this plague is over. So please, groups, be wise; breaking up is not hard to do. It’s lifesaving. Make it happen. And if you’re too self-focused to do that, at least have the courtesy to steer clear of all other humans who are observing social distancing. This isn’t A Clockwork Orange. Get off the sidewalks and maraud elsewhere please.

There are probably others suggestions that apply, but these six are the most obvious. You have some to add, leave them in comments… I’d like to hear them. I promise I will abide and hope you will too.

Now that beaches and trails have been shuttered, I’d hate to see sidewalks and neighborhood paths fall to that same fate for lack of social distancing. This pandemic will be with us for months (sigh), and our sustained ability to get out and walk in the exceptionally clean air is essential. Let’s please honor all the protocols that will keep us healthy and keep the outdoors up and running. Or walking, as it were.

Besides, even without a pandemic, don’t you think every one of these makes good common sense?

Photograph: Wind Walking by LDW


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.