SOCIAL MEDIA: Staying in touch

I'm sure most of my readers remember all too well the dark days following Sept. 11, 2001. The situation was constantly changing, and it seemed like anything could happen. You'd turn on the TV and steel yourself to hear something awful and unthinkable.

In this pandemic, there's still that gnawing sense of uncertainty, but for me social media have been a great help in staying connected.

Even if we can't meet for coffee, breakfast or lunch (ouch!), I can still keep up with my Facebook buddies and how they're coping. On March 14 the Salt Lake City police department shared this funny post on Facebook: "SLCPD is asking all criminal activities/nefarious behavior to cease until further notice. We appreciate your anticipated cooperation in halting crime & thank criminals in advance. We will let you know when you can return to your normal criminal behavior."

Support groups are holding meetings online. Churches have uploaded videos to YouTube: so far I've watched Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Anglican and fundamentalist worship services, and even some soothing yoga chanting called Kirtan Kriya.

Twitter is full of photos and updates about students using remote learning (which the Young Relative reports is actually fun).

I've made a rule, though: no watching press conferences or news bulletins near bedtime. The one evening I did so, I had nightmares about tornadoes approaching Unionville.

YMCA: How's that working out?

With the YMCA closed, I've been working out at home using online exercise videos. I'm determined to stay fit, but it's just not the same doing push-ups and high knees alone instead of with my gym buddies.

I've been exercising in my living room, which has an excellent wooden floor. But it's not one of those cavernous contemporary two-story living rooms; in fact, I have to push the coffee table out of the way to carve out enough space. And while doing a burpee this afternoon I kicked my cat, Tina, who yowled and looked offended. Sorry, Tina!

CENSUS: Every 10 years

An invitation to participate in the 2020 Census arrived in my mailbox the other day. I immediately completed it online, a welcome break from a tedious editing project. Although the instructions estimated it would take 10 minutes, I doubt it took more than two (I'm a fast reader). They didn't ask for anything other than basic demographic information.

KENNETT: The last fundraiser for a while

My schedule book contains nothing but crossed-out events -- the UHS musical, the Eliott Engel lecture, a dentist appointment, the Cheshire point-to-point (moved to June 14), Brandywine Friends of Old Time Music concerts, the Brandywine Hills steeplechase, the Kennett Masons' pancake breakfast, the commissioning ceremony for the submarine USS Delaware in Wilmington.

In what will probably be our last large gathering for the foreseeable future, we attended a fundraising banquet over the weekend at the Red Clay Room in Kennett. We were actually kind of surprised it wasn't cancelled, but it was before the strict "social distancing" recommendations went into effect. We noticed that the rowdy crew at the table next to ours were passing around a container of Lysol wipes -- when they weren't bidding enthusiastically on the live auction, that is.

DAY AND NIGHT: Now it's a moot point

Newspapers tend to stack up in my house, and I get to them when I can. So just yesterday I was reading a March 6 column in the Wall Street Journal by my favorite sportswriter, Jason Gay, about the spat between movie director Spike Lee and the New York Knicks. It seems Spike Lee, a passionate lifelong Knicks fan, has season tickets and took umbrage at being asked to use another door to the stadium at a March 2 game. Things escalated quickly.

It's been only three weeks since then, but doesn't it seem like another era?

LANDENBERG: An abandoned cemetery

On the way home from Fair Hill on Sunday, we passed an abandoned cemetery on Flint Hill Road and -- this should come as no surprise to you -- stopped to check it out.

Some of the tombstones were so weathered that they were illegible. Others were more recent, but the latest one we saw dated from 1933. One stone said simply "Children" and gave the parents' names, J. Smith and Rebecca Curry. We saw the ruins of a small stone building, now overgrown with brush and vines.

Dearest Partner did a quick online search and learned that it was the Flint Hill Cemetery. The first church on the site, built in about 1831, was the Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1854 it burned down, and when it was rebuilt in 1860, it was renamed Flint Hill Methodist Church. It operated until 1901, when most of the members moved to Kemblesville. The building was used as a Sunday school in 1904, and the church was reconsecrated in 1913, but attendance was sparse. It was closed and abandoned and burned down in the 1960s.

According to the Find A Grave website, "Before the fire, the church records were moved to the Kemblesville United Methodist Church. This church, however, suffered its own serious fire, and the records of Flint Hill, including the burial records, were lost."

Dearest Partner pointed out the irony of storing records offsite, as recommended, but losing them to fire anyway!

The cemetery is currently maintained by the Kemblesville United Methodist Church.

CECIL COUNTY: Social distancing along the creek

On Sunday afternoon we headed down to the Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area in Elkton, Maryland, to enjoy the beautiful weather. Plenty of other people -- not to mention dogs and horses, and a guided history tour group -- were doing the same thing. Whenever we encountered other hikers on the trail, we allowed plenty of distance between us.

We didn't see a lot of wildlife, but at the Foxcatcher covered bridge over the Big Elk Creek, dozens of fish were resting in the shade, all facing upstream.

I didn't realize that part of the 1998 Oprah Winfrey movie "Beloved" was filmed at Fair Hill. In a remote part of the park the film crew constructed a farmhouse, sheds, and barns. The farmhouse was built with a hinged front facade that could open for interior filming. The workers artificially weathered the buildings so they appeared 150 years old. One of the techniques: simulating termite holes by driving nails into the wood and then removing them. According to one observer, "It was very difficult to see that the materials were not as they appeared unless viewed up close."

TOILET PAPER: A precious commodity

Quote of the Pandemic (so far), from a Walmart employee describing some panicky shoppers fighting over the last few rolls of toilet paper: "I've never seen people behave so stupidly before. I've seen people leaving burning buildings with more decorum."

An employee at another store told us that more TP was scheduled to arrive the next morning between 6 and 6:15 a.m. "Bring your boxing gloves," he advised.

UNIONVILLE: Wearing of the Green

A friend reports that on Saturday morning she and her husband saw "a guy in shorts and a huge shamrock hat walking on 82 in front of Hood's."

Quipped her husband: "Look! It's the Unionville St. Patrick's Day parade!"

SUPERMARKET: Not your usual shopping trip

I felt some trepidation going to the Kennett Giant today, but it was great to get out of the house. I stayed away from other customers and staff and found myself trying not to inhale when too close to somebody. In the vegetable aisle, I normally would have just stood next to my fellow shopper selecting green peppers; instead I waited at a distance for him to finish. I saw a friend buying boxes of Tastykakes for her tax-preparation workplace, and we carried on our conversation at the mandated distance.

Some people -- I suppose they were reluctant to touch a grocery cart -- were balancing their groceries precariously in their arms, which posed a logistical problem for them when they arrived at the self checkout.

Staffers were cleaning everything, from soup cans to the handles on the refrigerated cases.

The toilet paper and paper towel shelves were still empty, but the milk case was fully stocked.

There were no chicken thighs, nor ground beef of any leanness level, nor was there that delicious mixture of ground veal, pork and beef that I use for meatloaf. Instead I bought ground turkey and ground bison -- we'll see how it turns out!

My brother reported a similar supermarket experience. Our text exchange says it all:

Brother: Grocery shopping today was kinda like a treasure hunt today. Lots of looking around! But it felt good (in a strange way) when you found an interesting substitute for your usual choice.

Tilda: Writing Tilda is going to be a challenge, with no events to cover.

Brother: Plenty of Tilda items! I just gave you one!

Tilda: Inadequate. Give specifics of substitute foodstuff.

He responded with a photo of a bag of 100% Organic Durum Semolina Penne Rigate, "crafted in Italy."

Brother: Pasta was very difficult to find. I'm guessing the "crafted in Italy" made this brand rather undesirable.

Tilda: Excellent Tilda item!

Brother: Your welcome.

Tilda: You're.

Brother: Knew that was coming after I hit send!!!

Write to Tilda at uvilleblogger@gmail.com. Thanks!
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