Anna Catharina Koob (1674/5 – 1735), The Mayor’s Wife – 52 Ancestors #302

The missing and incomplete church records in Fussgoenheim, Germany have cost genealogists so dearly. Among the losses are the surnames of many wives. Anna Catharina’s married name was Koob, but we don’t know her birth surname. I’ve love to somehow fill in this blank one day, but it doesn’t look promising.

Anna Catharina was born about 1675, less than 30 years after the end of the Thirty Years’ War which devastated the Palatinate. We don’t know specifically what happened in Fussgoenheim during this time, but we do know that the neighbor village of Mutterstadt was entirely destroyed and depopulated – so it stands to reason that Fussgoenheim and her families suffered the same fate.

Of course, this means that families sought safety wherever they could find it – and the population would have mixed significantly during that time. Anna Catharina’s ancestors could have lived in this area for generations, or, been newcomers altogether when returning, displaced from their original home by the war.

Winfried Seelinger, the local archivist in the neighboring village of Dannstadt tells us that all of this region was entirely depopulated, with the first few families moving back about 1650. Not many returned, as in only a handful of families, and then, very slowly. After establishing themselves in Bad Dürkheim, Frankenthal, and Speyer during the war, no one was in much of a hurry to return to ruined fields, overgrown after 30 years, and no remaining homes, barns, churches, or any form of society. There was literally nothing left. Going home meant starting over and leaving behind whatever you had built in the last three decades. People who were young couple at the beginning of the war, and survived, were old by the end.

We can only piece Anna Catharina’s life together from a few sparse records.

All church records before 1726 are missing and records thereafter are sporadic, at best, due to multiple causes – some known and some unknown. The church itself wasn’t rebuilt until between 1726 and 1733. In 1717, the local villagers were attempting to record the old customs and division of land based on the memories of the elders. Anna Catharina may or may not have been from or married in Fussgoenheim.

Anna Catharina’s Birth

Fortunately, we know the approximate year of Anna Catharina’s birth, because her death record provides that information.

Koob Anna Catharina 1735 burial.png

Burial: the 20th of April 1735 in the afternoon between 3 and 4 p.m. died, the widow of the mayor, Anna Catharina Kob(in), aged 60 years.  Funeral Text …..

If she hadn’t had her birthday yet in 1735, she would turn 61 later in the year, and therefore would have been born in 1674.

My friend, Tom, who did the translation for me had a difficult time deciphering the funeral text word or emplem, but we believe it’s Psalms 23, 24 and 73.

Anna Catharina’s Protestant Heritage

We know that Anna Catharina and her family were Lutheran Protestants. During the 30 Years’ War, Catholic forces had overrun the Palatinate, the lands east of the Rhine River. Protestants would have clung dearly, probably desperately, to their faith – because that’s literally all they had. For that faith, they had sacrificed everything, including many lives.

Koob 30 years war atrocities

This extremely graphic drawing, titled “Les grandes Miseres de la guere,” translates as “The Great Miseries of the War,” illustrates the type of retribution that was exacted on the Palatinate residents, and in particular, those reviled Protestants.

Therefore, religion to our ancestors wasn’t a matter of something they did on Sunday – it was near and dear to their hearts, something their ancestors had been suffering and persecuted for since the Reformation in 1534.

We know that there are two tombstones in the churchyard from around 1600, reputed to the first Lutheran pastor and his wife in Fussgoenheim. This tells us that the population was Protestant in the 1500s and that the church was rebuilt between 1726 and 1733 in the same location where it originally stood.

Anna Catharina’s Funeral

Given that Anna Catherina’s parents and grandparents had assuredly been displaced and suffered greatly during the war – no one in the Palatinate escaped suffering – one might expect her funeral text to reflect both suffering and Divine comfort. Let’s see if that’s the case.

Let us travel back in time and sit in the church with Anna Catharina’s family that spring April day and listen to what the minister had to say…

Psalm 23, 24 & 73, King James Version

23: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

24: The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?

4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

5 He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.

7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

73: Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.

2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.

3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.

5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.

6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.

7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.

8 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily.

9 They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.

10 Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.

11 And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High?

12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.

13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.

14 For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.

15 If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children.

16 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;

17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.

18 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.

19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.

20 As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.

21 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.

22 So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.

23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.

24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.

26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee.

28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.

I feel compelled to add an “Amen,” a relict of my many years sitting in a pew myself.

I don’t know if the Reverend would have used the entirety of all three psalms, especially given their combined length.

The verbiage of Psalm 23 takes me back to my childhood, Sunday School and the after-school Good News Club where we memorized the psalm and colored pictures of shepherds.

I wonder if there is a special message in Psalm 73 in that she suffered specifically in some way. Did this harken back to the residual pain from the Thirty Years’ War? That was surely not erased in one or two generations. Neither the personal pain of death and loss, nor the displacement and emotional torture of witnessing the horrors. Assuredly, every grandparent told those stories to their grandchildren – assuming they survived to tell the tale. If they didn’t, others surely did.

Funerals are for the living, those who remain and sit uncomfortably on those wooden benches, listening alternately to the minister and the birds chirping their springtime songs outside. I hope Anna Catharina’s family found comfort here, looking to the heavens before they buried Anna Catharina beside her husband and perhaps some of her children and grandchildren in the churchyard.

When Anna Catharina was buried, the church had been newly built, or rebuilt, before 1733. However, the churchyard was hundreds of years old.

I originally presumed that Anna Catharina would have spent most of her life worshipping in the old church before whatever happened to it, happened. I had assumed that the church was rebuilt after the Thirty Years War and that it had perhaps burned, needing to be rebuild in the 1730s. Now, I’m not at all sure it was ever rebuilt, but even if it had been, more military incursions occurred in the later 1600s.

Most likely, there was no church on that site for more than a century, not until a year or so before Anna Catharina was buried. Fussgoenheim citizens were probably proud as punch of their new church which still stands today.

The Church

Kirsch Fussgoenheim church

The Protestant parish church – Lutherkirche – is first documented at its current location in 1253. Of course, at that time, it would have been Catholic.

The current building dates back to between 1726 and 1733, just before Anna Catharina’s death, while the tower and the redesigned facade were built in 1842. The origins of the Protestant parish are believed to go back to 1553 with the earliest remaining graves reaching back to just after 1600.

Anna Catharina may have been buried in a cemetery full of ancestors and family members stretching back some 500 years, reaching into the mists of time – before the memory of anyone living when she died. That’s almost twice as far removed in time from her as she is today from me.

Or, her family may have been from elsewhere entirely. We know that the Koob family had returned to Fussgoenheim by about the time that Anna Catharina would have married, so it’s possible that her family either moved back to where they originated or decided to settle in Fussgoenheim after the war.

Fusgoenheim history tells us that in 1700, the entire village consisted of 150-200 residents, which would equate to 30-40 homes, assuming 5 family members in each home. Of course, if there were more residents in each house, then there would have been fewer homes.

I’m wagering that Anna Catharina’s family lived in one of those houses along the main street of town.


We know that Anna Catharina had four children, and likely more, but we don’t have information about her children who didn’t marry. If she, like most German mothers in the late 1600s and early 1700s, lost babies at or shortly after birth, those records would have been among the missing church records before 1726.

If we assume that Anna Catharina was married when she was 21 or 22 to Johann Dietrich Koob, that would suggest that the marriage took place about 1696 or 1697, possibly in Fussgoenheim. That means they began welcoming children about 1697 or 1698.

Anna Catharina and Johann Dietrich Koob could have had a child or two, or perhaps 3, prior to the birth of their first documented child.

First Known Child

Their first child for whom we have a marriage record was my ancestor, Johann Theobald Koob who was married on February 21, 1730 in Fussgoenheim, placing his birth around 1705, roughly.

Marriage: 21 Feb 1730
Joh. Theobald Coob from here with Maria Catharina Kirch(in) were married.

Both Anna Catharina and her husband would have celebrated this wedding with their son. Both would have known the neighbor girl, Maria Catharina Kirsch as well – assuredly since her birth. One or both of them might well have been related to her too.

Sixteen months after Johann Theobald Koob was married, in June of 1731, Anna Catharina’s first granddaughter, Susanna Elisabetha was born, and in May 1733, grandson Emanual joined his sister.

Just a month before Anna Catharina’s second grandchild was born to her son, her daughter was married.

Second Child

On April 21, 1733, daughter Maria Catharina Koob, noted as the daughter of Dietrich Koob, married Johann Mathaus Saaler.

Joh. Mathaus Saaler, legitimate son of the honorable, Christoph Saaler, member of the court in Weissenheim am Sand with Martha Catharina, legitimate daughter of the honorable Herr Dietric Koob, mayor here, were married.

The couple married in the bride’s home church, but Anna Catharina would have shed tears as her daughter packed her trunk and departed for Weissenheim am Sand, a little over 5 miles up the road, but not close enough to see her daughter daily anymore, or to see the hoped-for grandchildren either.

This would have been considered a good marriage for Maria Catharina Koob – married to the son of a court member. There would be food in her household.

I don’t know if Maria Catharina had children before her mother passed away 2 years, less one day, later. Truthfully, I don’t know if Maria Catharina had children at all. I don’t find any records, but we know that early records are incomplete and rife with mistranscribed names.

I fervently hope that Anna Catharina did not have to bury her adult daughter.

Maria Catharina was Anna Catharina’s only known daughter. If Maria Catharina didn’t have any daughters, who themselves had a line of contiguous daughters, continuing through daughters to the current generation where the offspring can be male – we will have lost Anna Catharina’s mitochondrial DNA.

Mitochondrial DNA is passed from females to both sexes of their children, but only female children pass it on. Anna Catharina’s mitochondrial DNA would provide us with information about who she is related to and where she came from, before Fussgoenheim. If you descend from daughter, Maria Catherine Koob who married Christoph Saaler (sometimes spelled Sahler), I’d love to hear from you. If you descend through all females to the current generation, which can be male, I have a DNA testing scholarship for you.

Third Child

The Fussgoenheim church records state that on January 14, 1731, a son of Johann Georg Spanier and his wife, a child named Johann Simon, was baptized. The godparents were “the son of Mr. Dietrick Koob, local mayor, and Anna Margaretha, Johann Martin Renner’s daughter from here.”

Given that we know Dieter Koob was mayor at this time and had a son named Johann Simon, after whom the child was named, we know the godfather was Johann Simon Koob who was subsequently married in 1735, so probably born about 1712.

Marriage: the 22nd of November 1735 were married the unmarried Simon Kob, legitimate son of the late Dieterich Kob, former mayor with the young lady, Margaretha Renner, legitimate daughter of the honorable Martin Renner, local citizen.  Married after the wedding homily: Gen 2 18.

Apparently, the marriage was not performed until after the Reverend had preached from the Bible, as follows.

Also, the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be himself alone: I will make him a help mate.

Johann Dieter Koob, the groom’s father, had gone on to his reward in September the year before, and Anna Catharina had joined him as well that April 20th, just 7 months and 2 days before her son’s wedding.

I wonder if Simon regretted not marrying sooner, before his parents both passed – or perhaps he had not been courting Margaretha that long.

Fourth Child

In 1736, Anna Catharina’s 4th surviving child, Georg Henrich Koob, was married.

Marriage: the 17th of January 1736 were married in the local church, the honorable young bachelor, Georg Henrich Kob, legitimate son of the late Dieter Kob(in), mayor of the exalted free county Hallberg with Anna Margaretha Kirsch(in), legitimate daughter of the late Wilhelm Kirsch, former member of the court. The wedding homily was 1 Timothy…….?

I do wonder if the “exalted free county Hallberg” was tongue in cheek, considering the horrid battle the townspeople were waging with the Hallberg family during this time.

Two of Anna Catharina’s sons, Johann Theobald Koob and Georg Henrich Koob married Kirsch sisters, daughters of Johann Wilhelm Kirsch and Anna Maria Borstler.

Was George Henrich Koob who married in 1736 Anna Catharina’s youngest child? A 1736 marriage would suggest his birth in about 1714.

A Fifth Child is Discovered

If Anna Catharina and Johann Dietrich Koob had children until she was 42 or 43, this would suggest their final child would have been born about 1722, 8 years after Georg Henrich Koob and just a few years before the church records began in 1726.

There are no more marriage records found for children of Anna Catharina. That silence speaks volumes. A child would have been born about 1716, 1718, 1720, and 1722. Those deaths would have been in addition to 2 or 3 children who were likely born after their marriage and prior to Johann Theobald. Although earlier children could potentially have married before the church records began in 1726. Still, we would expect to find baptisms of their children, and there are none, or at least none that have been discovered, translated, and recorded.

Fussgoenheim historian Walter Schnebel died in 2018. I have been fortunate enough recently to obtain his Koob family records and find one additional child listed.

Johann Nikolaus Koob was baptized in 1733 which would suggest his birth about 1720 or so. Unfortunately, there are no further records for this person, so we have no idea if he lived to adulthood, and if so, what happened to him.

As best we can tell, Anna Catharina had 4 children who survived to marry and someplace between 4 and 7 who did not. It’s little wonder that her funeral service spoke to suffering.

Who Really Was Anna Catharina?

I wish we knew who Anna Catharina was. Her parents were likely from one of the local families, at least they were local after the Thirty Years’ War. Who knows about before.

Conversely, Anna Catharina could have lived and married elsewhere, moving to Fussgoenheim with her husband after they married. Judging from other records, that seemed to happen a lot during that timeframe. Families had been jumbled.

Fussgoenheim was closely connected to Mutterstadt, Weissenheim am Sand and Bad Dürkheim. Families from these cities and villages seemed to have intermingled and intermarried regularly.

If her family was from Fussgoenheim’s original families, her parents could well have been related, the families intermarrying in the same village for generations. That would also have meant that Anna Catharina might have been related to her husband as well, a very common occurrence in small German villages of that time. Everyone was, literally, related to everyone else. In that way, the Thirty Years’ War was probably beneficial – mixing new DNA in the gene pool.

Fussgoenheim History

Fussgoenheim history, translated using Deepl, tells us the following:

According to the findings, Fußgönheim is an old settlement of the Celts and Romans. It was first mentioned in 770/771 in the Lorsch Codex (it is controversial whether it is Fußgönheim or Reingönheim) and 893 in the quality list of the Abbey Prüm. For the place name there are two interpretations:”Gönheim (home of Gino) at the foot of the slope” and “Gönheimam Vuezgraben (Fuchsbach).” In 1993 Fußgönheim celebrated its 1100th anniversary.

From 900 to 1100 it was property of the Salian imperial family. Through sale and inheritance it came into the possession of the families Falkenstein and Leiningen. From 1300 to 1729 it was divided into an upper and lower village. On September 14, 1728 Jakob Tilmann von Hallberg became feudal lord and then owner of the entire village. The Hallbergs resided in Fußgönheim for about 60 years. In 1741, the so-called “Hallberg Castle” as well as the contained in the complex Catholic Church of St. James Major was completed.

In 1729, Freiherr von Hallberg carried out the field survey and the district was divided into new ways. The Freiherr had taken possession of the fields which had become ownerless through the survey. The then judges of the place, Schimbeneau, Herberich, Schuster, Theobald Koob and Schultheiß Kirsch refused to sign the land register created by Hallberg and were therefore expelled in 1744.

This iconic episode in Fussgoenheim history wherein the land was “resurveyed and divided,” in order to deprive the citizens of roughly two-thirds of their rightful land began before Anna Catharina’s death. It may have sorely affected both her life and that of her husband, Dieter, in their final years. Perhaps this is the suffering, in addition to the deaths of several children, referred to by her funeral passage.

Maybe it was for the best that Anna Catharina passed away in 1735, before the worst of that episode which began when her son was jailed in 1743, before expulsion a few weeks later. By then, Anna Catharina would have been 69 and expelled right along with the rest of the family. In 1753, when the family was allowed to return, she would have been 78, assuming that she wouldn’t have died in exile.

No, probably best that she was spared all of that.

The Map

The land that had belonged to Johann Dietrich Koob would have been inherited by his sons. In 1743, a map shows two pieces of land, both owned by Johann Theobald Koob. It’s possible that Johann Theobald had purchased one piece of land from his brother or brothers after the death of Anna Catharina in 1735 – or perhaps he inherited both.

Kirsch 1743 Fussgoenheim under village

However, the 2 pieces of land shown belonging to Johann Theobald are located in the north part of the village, called the unter or under village. Johann Dietrich Koob was mayor of the oberdorf, or over village, which was the south portion. I assumed the opposite, but my friend Christoph explained that this has to do with elevation, not location.

Kirsch 1743 Fussgoenheim over village

The 1743 map showed no Koob property in the south portion of the village, yet we know that’s the portion of the village where Dieter and Anna Catharina lived, where he was mayor.

The 1753 Fussgoenheim village accounting, if we could locate the original document, would likely tell us about the relationships of people and their hereditary land. Walter Schnebel apparently did have that document before his death.

Based on history of the village and the 1743 map, which is the redrawn Hallberg map after the survey – apparently the one that the village elders including Johann Theobald Koob refused to sign – we are left to understand that Johann Dieter Koob’s land was south of the Protestant church. This land was NOT drawn on the map with his name, nor any other Koob family member which leads me to the conclusion that Johann Dieter Koob’s land was some of the confiscated land. This would have been land that Hallberg claimed was abandoned after redrawing the boundaries and roads, separating some fields from their houses.

It would appear that Hallberg was attempting to confiscate land in that part of town, perhaps to build his castle on a large contiguous section – given that the southeast corner of Fussgoenheim is entirely “vacant,” according to the Hallberg map.

And that’s exactly where Hallberg built his castle, Catholic church and gardens. This must have left a chronically bitter taste in the mouths of the residents – every time they passed by this building.

Koob Hallberg castle.jpg

No wonder the residents were angry – furious enough to risk what little they had left by refusing to sign that 1743 survey and standing up to Hallberg.

Widows were shown on the map in 1743. We know that Anna Catharina would have remained on Dieter’s land after his death, and in 1735, after she died, it would have then become the property of another Koob male family member – one of their surviving sons.

We don’t see any Koob names, nor really, any of the traditional Fussgoenheim surnames except one Kirsch immediately south of the Lutheran church.

This draws us to the conclusion that the battle that Dieter Koob fought and lost in death, then that Anna Catharina lost in death, and Johann Theobald was evicted fighting for was the war to save their land, their home and probably, given the length of time these families had lived in this village, land that has been rightfully theirs for time immemorial.

In other words, they suffered for it during the Thirty Years War, reclaimed it after when everything was burned to the scortched earth, rebuilt, only to have it confiscated by Hallberg a generation later to build his castle.

Koob aerial Hallberg castle

The land belonging to Johann Dieter Koob and Anna Catharina was likely one of the farms, shown above, perhaps even where the Castle itself was built. After all, the Mayor would probably have lived on one of the prime pieces of land. We know the Koob family returned relatively early after the Thirty Years’ War, so they likely either reclaimed their old land, or claimed good land that was never reclaimed.

The Koob family may have had more to lose than other families. Regardless, we know that they owned land in the south half of the village at one time, and it’s not reflected in 1743 as being owne by any Koob. Dieter and Anna Catharina both spend their sunset years and died waging war, attempting to save what was theirs.

We may not know her surname, but we do know who Anna Catharina was. A woman in a family of warriors.

Koob Fussgoenheim sign.jpg



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Pandemic Journal: Mud-wrestling with Pigs and a Pandemic Rainbow

Pandemic pig.jpg

My Hoosier step-father used to have a slew of wonderful sayings, but one of his favorites was:

Never mud-wrestle with a pig. You can’t win. You get dirty. The pig enjoys it and the spectators can’t tell the difference.

We used to call this time of year “the dog days of summer” but right now, I’m calling it the “mud-wrestling season.” Pretty much everyone is miserable one way or another. I’m afraid this will extend throughout 2020. I don’t know, but that certainly looks like a possibility.

I started the Pandemic Journal series of articles for a couple of reasons. Initially, to inform, then to discuss in the context of what our ancestors went through. I expected the Covid experience to be relatively short-lived, a couple of months that seemed like years, and these journal articles to be short-lived as well. I thought we would all isolate and wear masks and get this monster under control. But that’s unfortunately very clearly not what has happened.

And now, school in person in a few days? Oy!

Pandemic Fatigue

pandemic fatigue

The sheer magnitude of this monster Covid-storm that has overwashed us, combined with the length of time and some degree of hopelessness has combined to create what I’m referring to as pandemic fatigue. I don’t know if that’s a real word or not, but it should be.

Not only are we actually physically exhausted because of the constant emotional upheaval of pandemic+politics, the second of which I’m not going to touch on at all, but we’re tired of being at home. We are grieving our “former lives,” not to mention all of life’s stressors that still occur but may be exacerbated by job loss, income loss, insurance loss, and of course, the virus itself.

It’s like normal life is still trying to take place under the unrelenting cloud of Covid. For example, people are marrying, graduating from school, having babies, and dying.

My cat is dying too, slowly, making our family extremely sad. Layers of grief on layers of grief. Still, we distance, trying to clutch as much of pre-pandemic life as possible while staying safe. For example, when the time comes, probably in a few days, we won’t be able to be with our beloved Phoenix when she crosses the rainbow bridge, assisted by our kind vet. There’s no need to expose him or us, no matter how much we want to be in the room with her. I can’t help but think of all of the Covid victims dying alone too, and their families.

Some people aren’t continuing to distance and are paying a hefty price. Many are taking chances that really aren’t necessary.

My methodology for making these decisions is really simple. What’s the worst that can happen?

  • If I wear and mask or stay home when I didn’t need to, nothing truly bad happens. Am I happy? No. Am I at risk? No. Am I risking anyone else’s health? No.
  • If I don’t mask and distance and get Covid, I can spread it to friends and family, I can die, kill others, or live with horrid debility and/or incur massive bills. We still don’t understand the extent of what this virus does to human bodies or long-term effects. My friend went to the ER for Covid symptoms, tested positive, was not admitted, went home only to receive a 12K medical bill a month later. The Covid test itself was free, but the rest was not. She had already lost her job and has no insurance. How is she supposed to pay that bill?

For me, the decision pretty much makes itself. The gray area is introduced when defining “necessary” and that line-in-the-sand is different for everyone, or at least different in every state with so many disparate and inconsistent levels of “rules” about what can and cannot be done.

Not to mention, “can” and “should” are vastly different things.

pandemic garden.jpg

Thankfully, I can go outside and sit on the deck and walk around my yard, but those aren’t options for everyone.

However, it’s still difficult for me, sitting by myself, seeing photos of places I’d like to be and people I’d like to see – but I can’t. Especially if they are seeing each other and I’m the odd man out. I can’t help but think, “just this once,” but that’s exactly how this disease is spread. You only get to be wrong once.

pandemic wildflower garden

Try not to think about what you’re missing. Try to be positive. Take a deep breath. Try not to cry, again. Here, have another garden picture.

My situation is better than a lot of people who don’t have a deck to sit on or a yard to walk in. They live in multi-generational households where they can’t distance or in apartment buildings. Some people are exposed because their family members are essential workers.

Some people are exposed because they are cautiously optimistic and venture out when they probably shouldn’t. Some have simply thrown caution to the wind. In a pandemic, everyone’s decisions affect everyone else. Six degrees of separation on steroids.

For some time, people on social media were saying that they didn’t even know anyone who had contracted Covid, so it didn’t exist where they lived or was being exaggerated. I don’t really hear that much anymore. I have cousins who have died. One is in intensive care as I type this. Close friends have it and others have had it. Yet another friend’s mother died. One of the places I obtained carry-out is now closed due to an employee testing positive this week. It’s killing people in the nursing homes here as well. There’s no doubt, it’s every single place in America now. No one is safe or exempt.

By now, Covid has directly affected almost everyone, and I’m not referring to financially through shutdowns and job loss which some would argue were political in nature. (I’m not touching that topic either.) I’m referring to the virus itself.

And anyone who is looking clearly understands what’s coming. Our only prayer is if by some miracle everyone magically starts to wear masks and stay home. And indeed, I mean everyone, because only “some” people wearing masks didn’t work before and is why we are where we are right now – with an epidemic spiraling out of control.

And yes, a vaccine, IF it works, and IF it arrives by year-end will help immensely, but we all have to survive that long. Many won’t. We’re at 153,314 deaths from Covid today and most models have us hitting 200K within a month. I’m afraid to look at the projection by year-end.

Oh yea, and because pandemic stress wasn’t enough, we’re now having pandemic+politics+hurricanes too. In Florida of all places, already a Covid hotspot, with Hurricane Isaias projected to make landfall today with high tides making things even worse there and up the east coast over the next few days. Batten down the hatches.

2020 promises to be the year we all want to forget.

The Common Thread

There is one common thread in all of this though – and that is that everyone is super stressed. If you just thought to yourself, “that’s an understatement,” you’re right.

pandemic contrails.jpg

We are all looking up at the contrails of planes in the sky and thinking about what we aren’t doing that we want to do. Where we were planning to go, but now can’t. Activities we want to do or events we want to attend, but can’t. Who we long to see, but can’t. Who has died and we’ll never see again. We can’t even attend funerals.

There’s a lot of loss, for sure.

I’m hoping that I can do some of these things in the after-time, and that there will be an after-time. Some days, gratitude to be alive and hope for the future is all we have.

As a result, people have more time for social media, are commenting more, and are “less nice.” Yes, I know that’s an understatement too. Everyone seems to have their knickers in a knot just now.

“Less nice” often translates into hurtful commentary to or about others, when no comments would suffice. When a “negativity leader” emerges, more people pile on. Of course, that just raises the stress level of everyone involved, especially the person being bullied. Adrenaline and stress hormones flood bodies, causing people who feel they are under attack to have a “flight or fight” response – and in an electronic world, that means either disengage and go for a walk or “fight” online as a keyboard warrior.

No one wins and the exchange is simply ugly and hurtful. Have another flower picture.

Pandemic phlox

Take a deep breath and count to 10. Have some lilies.

pandemic lily.jpg

Now we’re at the point where my Dad’s mud-wrestling with a pig commentary comes into play.

Seriously, no one is going to even consider anyone’s point of view because they are too busy “talking and typing,” to listen, even if they had once been inclined. And that’s assuming there isn’t any other agenda or issue in the mix. Yea, more flowers…

pandemic red lily

Maintaining an Even Keel

When people are stressed, especially for a long period of time, like pandemic fatigue, it seems to bring out either the worst or the best in people. It also dramatically affects mental health. Here are some thoughts and ideas, aside from flower pictures, that you may find helpful. I try to think of these when I see people reacting, and when I consider my health and behavior as well.

  • People who already suffer from depression or other mental health issues may need to have their medications adjusted.
  • People who never previously suffered from depression may be suffering from it now. Here’s a list of symptoms to watch for. If this might apply to you, make sure to exercise, get enough sunshine and disengage from triggers, like social media if that’s affecting you negatively.
  • People who had borderline mental health issues pre-pandemic may have crossed over the edge due to any number of stressors and need medical assistance now. You may be viewing the results of that on social media, or seeing it in the behavior of family members.
  • Doomscrolling. I didn’t even know this was a “thing,” but apparently it is, related to the consumption of news which is almost entirely negative (what news isn’t negative today,) and I’m guilty of it to some extent. You can read about doomscrolling and its effects, especially during the pandemic, here.
  • To address doomscrolling and negativity, I’ve done a number of things:
    1. Unfriended or unfollowed people who bring pain or unpleasantness into my life. Unfortunately, there have been more than I would have anticipated and some that were shocking. I will discuss any topic. I will not tolerate attacks, disrespect, condescension, or hatefulness, directed toward me or others. If there’s any good news to this part of the equation, it’s that the pandemic has unmasked many people for their real selves, many of whom I’ve found very disheartening and disappointing. That discovery adds another level of grief, but their removal from my social media feed removes the chronic negativity issue.
    2. Focusing on people who are positive by nature. That does not mean they are Pollyannas, irresponsible, or unconcerned about the pandemic, but it does mean they are not pushing conspiracy theories or constant negativity by default. I don’t mind seeing some negative things, because that is our reality right now, but I also want to see pictures of your kids, your cats, your lunch, a flower, your family tree, your new t-shirt, your Amazon order, something, anything that feels “normal.”
    3. Find ways to support others, to the best of my ability. You already know I made masks, and have a few more to make over the weekend. I also make care quilts, but right now, there is no way to make them fast enough. I’ve also been making quilts to keep for myself, because they make me feel good, and right now, I’m important too.
    4. I do feel that as a responsible adult, I need to stay current with what is occurring. However, I’ve located a couple of non-inflammatory daily summary sources and I have specific times of the day that I check social media.
  • I’m limiting my work time because my “default” is to work more and more and sit in front of my computer longer and longer each day. Unfortunately, at this point, I can never catch up, so that just makes things worse. I receive hundreds of emails every day, many asking questions that the sender thinks will “only take a minute,” which is a compliment, but nonetheless incorrect. (I do offer Quick Consults, here.)
  • People with addiction issues are relapsing. Addiction doesn’t only mean alcohol or drugs but includes other compulsive self-medicating comfort disorders. Eating comes to mind, but there are many more. Counselors and support groups are available online – just google. Is buying quilt fabric an addictive behavior? Asking for a friend😊
  • People with mental health issues are really struggling, and they are not always who you think they might be. When you observe someone acting hateful or awful towards someone else, it’s one of a few things – an active choice meaning their real personality is showing through, a really bad day (that excuse doesn’t work for repeated incidents) or a mental health issue. Regardless of which it is, you don’t need to engage with or tolerate their behavior. Some days my mantra is “just keep on scrolling.”
  • Sometimes when people are silent, it’s not because they can’t or don’t want to “defend themselves.” It’s because they’ve chosen to be kind and not act hatefully or hurtfully. Attempting to hurt someone else is never beneficial and “winning” in that manner doesn’t make someone a good person or a winner. I always remember who behaved that way. Silence does not equate to “losing.” Losing one’s composure publicly is rarely a good thing.
  • Develop a self-imposed embargo policy. When I’m angry, my personal rule is that I don’t reply for 24 hours. If I’m still angry, it’s 48 hours. By then, it seldom matters. This has saved me a lot of grief over the years and probably a lot of embarrassment too. An embargo doesn’t mean I’m silent to my family or close friends, it just means publicly.
  • People don’t have to engage in every fight they’re invited to. There’s no requirement to take the bait. Generally, bait is a sure-fire sign of danger. Ask any fish!
  • Each of us chooses how to behave, both on and offline. Choose to be kind, or silent. You never have to regret that choice.
  • Sometimes, kindness is simply keeping my mouth shut. Having said that, I do feel from time to time that I have a moral imperative to speak truth to power, understanding that it will likely cause me to become a target. Still, I always say what I have to say respectfully. I will not engage in the “nasty girls” game. There is a fundamental difference between a difference of opinion, a movement for change and a war. If people choose to target me after I speak truthfully, so be it – it’s probably a sign of effectiveness. Still, it takes courage to speak, knowing what will likely be forthcoming. I’m grateful to people like John Lewis, John McCain, William Tully Brown and Rosa Parks for their courage and inspiration. One day I’ll write about attending Rosa’s funeral visitation. John and Rosa peacefully spoke, stood their ground and have inspired me repeatedly over the years, especially when I’m frightened. If or when we are attacked, we can always choose to be kind and be silent, taking into consideration the situation. Silence is sometimes more powerful than words. Sometimes it’s the other way around. Words, however, can cut like a knife, so choose wisely. People are already hurting.
  • On the bright side, when speaking truth-to-power, you immediately discover who your friends are and who are fair-weather acquaintances of convenience. That holds true as well for when bad things happen in your life and you need help. Those who step-up are gold! The rest weren’t really your friends and culled themselves. Be grateful.
  • I always weigh my behavior based on how I would feel if a potential employer or my granddaughters as adults saw what I said. Am I being my best self? How would I feel if one of my granddaughters posted what I was about to say? How would I counsel them?

In other words, never mud-wrestle with a pig. You can’t win. You get dirty. The pig enjoys it. The spectators can’t tell the difference.

Besides that, if I do perish in this pandemic, I don’t want to be remembered for being hateful. I may not be able to control this pandemic, or what others say or do, but I surely can control the substance of my own legacy.

Pandemic Rainbow

When will the Pandemic Journal series end?

Truthfully, I don’t know. This might be the last article in the series, because this seems to have become a way of life, not a temporary glitch.

Of course, by now, I thought I would have already written the “victory” “we’re free again and it’s over” article. I thought I’d be going to genealogy conferences and quilt retreats, but I’m not and everything this fall and much of winter has already canceled or simply wasn’t scheduled.

I don’t know if or when this plague will ever end. As we enter into the days of diminishing light, the fall and winter in the northern hemisphere, I expect the pandemic to worsen, along with its associated challenges.

I don’t want to write negative articles or those that only serve to depress already depressed people.

One positive aspect that I’m seeing is that some people’s obsession is genealogy and with more time, they are really focusing on uncovering those ancestors. This is one kind of addictive behavior I heartily endorse!! I’ve been the recent beneficiary and I’ve been able to gift others as well.

I hope that you think about the life and times of your ancestors, the situations they encountered, the decisions they made, and how plagues and pestilences influenced, affected or ended their lives. Perhaps fear of a viral enemy that seems to be overpowering us sheds light on their lives before the days of modern medical care.

Now you can understand the ever-tightening fingers of fear that clutched their hearts as the Bubonic Plague, also known as the Black Death because of what it did to the bodies of its victims, engulfed their world. Ironic, isn’t it, that Plague doctors wore masks then, thinking that the beak filled with aromatics would filter out the offending disease particles present in “bad air.”

Today, we know masks work and greatly improve the chances of staying well, yet not everyone wears them.

pandemic plague doctor

I hope your ancestors bring you comfort, in their presence or their absence that causes you to have to search for them. Perhaps we can think of this grey and difficult time, retrospectively, after the storm has passed and the sun sets on this chapter of our lives as the time of great genealogy breakthroughs. Perhaps our ancestors will serve as a pandemic rainbow.

pandemic rainbow.jpg

Partial double rainbow beneath storm clouds with the sunset reflecting off of the clouds, taken from the center of the labyrinth.



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