0809 Mary Jo Hazard headshot.jpg

Mary Jo Hazard

Silver linings, signs of hope during the coronavirus lockdown, have been the simple moments in my life that have brought tears to my eyes, touched my heart and made me count my blessings.

I experienced one of those silver linings on a Friday afternoon when my husband and I had a social distancing happy hour around the pool area with my daughter and son-in-law, Jennifer and Mark Giacalone.

We sipped our drinks and talked about the unimaginable things we’ve accepted since the safe-at-home orders were enacted on March 13.  

Things such as the bizarre way we grocery shop, wearing our masks and gloves, going up and down one-way aisles and preparing ourselves for the long lines of people spaced 6-feet apart in the checkout lines.

I enjoy the freedom of walking the aisles and checking things off my list, but what I like best are my impulse buys. No, I really don’t need coffee ice cream, or chocolate chips and flour, but there they are right in front of me and I smile as I put them in my cart.

It’s my “new” shopping normal.

Mark, a Boeing engineer, mentioned he’s noticed a change in the people in his quiet Rancho Palos Verdes neighborhood.

“Whenever I walk the dogs, everyone I see waves and calls out,” he said, smiling and explaining how good he felt about that. “Before the pandemic people didn’t do that, but now we know each other’s names—even the dogs know each other. There’s a new spirit in our neighborhood that wasn’t there before.”

Right now it takes so little to make us feel good—grocery shopping, walking the dog around the neighborhood, greeting neighbors.

These are the little things that before the pandemic we took for granted, now we appreciate them and we reach out to share with others.

For quite a few years, Jennifer, a working mom, has done a lot of online shopping. She always appreciated the delivery people who bring the goods to her door.  Around the holidays she thanked them by putting a basket out on her porch filled with prepacked snacks and a cooler of cold bottled water.

When the virus hit and everything shut down, like everyone else, Jennifer’s deliveries went way up. Every day now she sets out her cooler of cold drinks and a new basket of treats—it’s her way of saying thank you to the delivery people who put themselves at risk to help her family. 

In my own neighborhood, one of my neighbors, Maxine Bussell, makes mouthwatering sourdough bread.

The first couple of months of the pandemic, she made a loaf every Sunday for “us” neighbors, but that wasn’t enough for her. A few weeks ago, she began baking more bread for a group (@cybsouth on Instagram) that feeds the hungry. Remember when masks were in short supply? Maxine made masks and gave them to all of her neighbors.

Another neighbor, Dolores Cellier, gave me a tour of her garden and some much needed advice about the plants that were withering in mine. She said since the pandemic she’s become a “gentleman farmer" and she’s elated to share her tips and expertise. Dolores also puts together gorgeous flower arrangements and when we least expect it,  she surprises “us” neighbors with her colorful creations. 

My son-in law is definitely on to something.

There is a new spirit on the peninsula, people are reaching out to each other without expecting anything in return. They’re enjoying the new normal, counting their blessings and at the top of their lists are their family and friends.

Is there hope for the future? You bet!


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