All hell broke loose in Oregon last weekend. We had snow, freezing rain, ice, power outages, and the worst – no TV! You don’t realize how truly alone you are until you’ve lost the internet and TV. My husband’s mom came to our house for two days because her power was out, and while she was here our power went out. We were forced to play Scrabble by candlelight to entertain ourselves, and then she beat me. “The game was rigged!” I whined.

Then we heard that in Texas hell actually did freeze over, bursting people’s water pipes and causing power outages and water shortages. The news was full of tragic stories about couples with four kids having no power or water in a freezing house. Many of them left their homes to stay with relatives or friends. In times of trouble, strangers step up, but it’s easier to call your mom or son or a friend to help. 

Some of us don’t have nearby relatives, and some don’t have friends. It’s hard to make connections when you’re busy all the time, or prefer your own company so you don’t have to share the remote control. It also takes courage to have friends, because there’s always the risk of rejection. They might not invite you to a party, or they choose someone else to go with them to the beach. If you’re busy all the time when they call, they eventually quit calling. Plus you have to be nice to them. That sounds flippant, but really, you can’t insult your friends or do mean things to them because they’ll put up with it for a while but eventually they’ll find a new friend. 

Friends, like husbands, are work. To stay connected to them, you have to be there in the good times and in bad. You have to call them even when you’re busy. That’s always my problem – I get so busy that I wait for people to call me or initiate activities. That’s why, for Lent this year, I’m going to prioritize friends. When they call I’ll call right back instead of doing ten things on my To-Do list first. Maybe I’ll even initiate some activities. Even with Covid we can still take walks or meet outside for tea and sympathy. 

Speaking of Covid, it’s really been hard on those people who love being around others all the time – the people who always, ALWAYS invite you to come over whenever you talk to them. My friend Laurie is like that. She’ll call some mornings to check in and every time will say, “You should come over and see my (whatever project she’s working on).”  

Every month Laurie does a printing project for her printers’ group’s “bundle.” February’s theme was Edgar Allan Poe. Over breakfast at Gators (they have outside seating) we worked on a poem based on Poe’s “The Raven” – you know, the one that says, “quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore.’” Laurie wanted the poem to be about Covid and how it’s keeping us away from our friends. I told her I’d write the poem using Poe’s rhyme scheme, which turned out to be one of those, “no good deed ever goes unpunished” kind of things. I see why Poe was famous – “The Raven” has a complicated, convoluted rhyme scheme, or, as Wikipedia puts it: The poem is made up of 18 stanzas of six lines each. Generally, the meter is trochaic octameter – eight trochaic feet per line, each foot having one stressed syllable followed by one unstressed syllable…The rhyme scheme is ABCBBB, or AA,B,CC,CB,B,B when accounting for internal rhyme.

I wrote the poem as best I could, based on her ideas, and she carved two crows/ravens out of wood blocks to print on the bottom of each half sheet. They are very cool. The girl raven is wearing a string of pearls, and there’s a heart between them. Under my poem it says, “Happy Valentine’s Day” since it’s February. See the proof copy she gave me below – a little of the ink is too light on one of the raven’s tail feathers, but you get the idea. 

In lieu of all the craziness in the world right now, I encourage everyone to seek out friends, even if you’re busy, even if you’re shy, even if you don’t know how. Google it! You need friends in times of crisis, and friends make the good times even better. 

The Covid poem based on Poe's "Nevermore" with Laurie's print of two crows with a heart between them