Come Together by Staying Apart


My buddies in Isolation Nation

I didn’t make the title up. I got it from watching a video some guy  named Sheldon Watson made that is circulating the web via social media right now. Its a 2 minute video of Vancouver, BC, sort of one of my home towns, and its showing the stark reality that is Isolation Nation.

Canada seems to be getting it, at least. I’m proud of Canada and my Canadian friends and family who are going as equally stir-crazy as those of us Americans right now. No different than my friend and her family in Israel and my cousins-in-law in Scotland.

The video starts with an empty Lions Gate Bridge (!!!) and includes images of downtown Vancouver as well as the Burrard Street Bridge with nothing and nobody on it. The visual of the lone jogger on the sea wall was pretty intense, to be honest. It ends with the nightly clanging of pots and pans and cheers and whistles as Vancouverites support one another through this really difficult time.


Long walks with the barn cats. No more dogs means you take your cats for a walk.

I am so proud of so many people right now. We have come together by staying apart to keep the most vulnerable among us alive and keep our medical systems from being overwhelmed. You can’t say this virus isn’t real. By the time I finish this blog, more than 40,000 people will have died in 8 weeks in the United States alone. And that’s WITH social distancing and gutting our economy.

I am sad, though, when I see the protesters and how close they are to one another with stupid signs and ridiculous chants about our rights & freedoms. It isn’t your right to congregate and pass along a very infectious, potentially lethal, unseen virus and then go and see my husband at his Walk-in clinic and get him sick.

He is over 60. Healthcare workers get bombarded by this virus, often while not even knowing it.


Helena, MT rally today protesting Covid19 restrictions. Photo from MTN news.

But here they are, even in Montana, protesting without wearing masks or gloves and thumbing their noses at our state’s restrictions. Governor Bullock will decide this week what he’s going to do about “re-opening” the state (restrictions are set to end on the 24th of April.) We have 433 confirmed cases as of this morning and 10 deaths.

Our hospitals have not been overwhelmed because people have adhered to the stay-at-home policies. Curves have not flown off the charts and many have leveled a little, even in places like New York City.

Flattened curves, however, don’t mean the end of Covid19 spread. Not at all! We just slowed things down so that we don’t have to see the visuals of doctors and nurses wearing garbage bags flying around, patients in hospital beds lining hospital hallways and refrigerated trucks backing up to load the overwhelming number of bodies before the morgues and funeral homes can take them.

I have tremendous empathy for the folks in New York City and I take some comfort in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s briefings. He doesn’t sugar-coat anything and he shares his own empathy. I am so sorry for what their health care system continues to go through and I am so thankful we hopefully will see nothing like that.


More from today’s protest in Helena, MT. Photo from MTN news.

These rally/protest photos show people maybe sort of making a distancing effort but they aren’t all 6 feet apart. No frigging way. No gloves. No masks. Hey, Buddy with the cell phone… you going to wipe down that screen and then touch your face and breathe your possibly diseased air onto T-shirt there while shouting out the violation of your rights & freedoms?

How about my husband’s rights & freedoms?

Or my friends who are getting aggressive chemo right now for their cancers?


One of those very good friends… (xo, you guys)

I won’t be supporting anyone who wants to gather right now but I will support you in your struggle to maintain your sanity.

I get it.

I really do.

We are, as a nation and as a planet, scared.

And yet the planet is breathing a sigh right now because of the lack of airplane and vehicular traffic. Perhaps we will all realize we maybe don’t need to travel by car or truck as much as we have been.

Perhaps we can take this time to stop and really, truly think about how beautiful it is that we have made the effort to stop the rapid spread of the virus. Many of us are reaching out to our friends and loved ones more regularly than before. I have got to  know some people way more than I did before during screen time and because we are all reaching out.


More friends at the farm during Isolation Nation

One friend today simply asked us all how we are doing and how we are coping. She got a lot of heartfelt responses (along with one, “this virus is BS” post.)

It is not BS.

It is real. It is deadly. And I worry the fuck out of my husband being on the front lines in this country.

And he worries about bringing it home to me, too. While we are lucky we aren’t caring for elderly parents and we don’t have children in the house and we live at the end of a very long road that borders forest service, he still worries about me.

I will admit that I had a fever and chills when he was here the last time and I was up all night freaking out about it (like Chris Cuomo has talked about during the virus’s rampage through his own body… the anxiety likely leads to even more sweats and more chills and despite the need for sleep it continues to elude you.) (Perhaps the Sandman, himself, is self isolating!)


We did socially isolate together on a quiet golf course a couple of weeks ago… masks were on whenever people were nearby and the carts were heavily sanitized.

A day or 2 after my night of (I’ll admit it) fear (and sweat), Alistair got the call that one of his patients from his last time back had tested positive. They are trying to keep him from the testing side of the clinic but it IS the same clinic and the same parking lot and the same waiting room.

So did I have it? Maybe. I am asymptomatic and feel great. I never had a cough and my temperature was normal the next morning. I am 47 and don’t have any underlying conditions and I eat well.

Can I get it again if I had it? Nobody knows. Its a NOVEL virus. We’re all figuring this out as we go here.

Rest assured, if you see me out in public I will be wearing a mask and gloves. And I will stay the fuck away from you.


More “friends” in Isolation Nation here in my office.

I shall continue to try to post things that I learn and things that do not create hysteria. I will continue to be a real life voice from someone living this and from what my husband sees. His hospital’s models predict Bismarck will peak in mid-May. That’s still several weeks away so you will continue to not see me if I can help it.

I can do it. We have a lovely house and there’s that forest service and long driveway to hike. There’s the barn kitties, the indoor kitties, the Bee Gees and Fyfe’s Ornithological Society. I have my journal (I encourage you all to journal! Its healing, you can write whatever you want, nobody is going to check your spelling/grammar and it won’t be judged), I have my fourth book to finish, and I have recipes to play with.

I also have my sense of humor and my loving husband to talk with on a daily basis as we both give each other strength despite missing one another terribly.


I tried ground beef stroganoff last week and it was really, really good!

If you don’t have coping mechanisms then please reach out. Find someone to talk to or just send a private message.

Try to keep your head up and know you are not alone. Be like the Vancouverites who have turned the vibrant, beautiful city I know and love into a ghost town. My stepson, Gareth, lives there and he has shared how proud he is of the city for closing itself down.

Be #vancouverstrong, be #montanastrong, be #whereveryouwantobestrong.

But do it wearing a mask and gloves and from 6 feet away from me, please. Better yet, just stay home.


D’embe. Socially distancing himself from Jockey.


Jockey. Returning the favor.


Poor Professor Higgins, though, is a hugger. “Can you pick me up, please, Mummy. Lift with the knees…”



So I’ve Written This Book…


My first novel!!!

I’ve been busy this past winter and spring.

I wrote and published a book.

I focused. I researched. I researched some more.

And more.

I drank coffee and tea and corrected and edited and shared with only a handful of people but I sat down and wrote a book.


The dogs during a snowy driveway walk last winter

It helped that the snow never stopped coming down for weeks.

The walls of snow lining the driveway were taller than all of the dogs.

I would plow and shovel in the mornings and write in the afternoons.

It wasn’t like I could play golf.

Or do much of anything outside, really.

Then it got super cold and the big tractor gelled up and the batteries died in the trucks and Loki wouldn’t go outside to piddle and my eyes hurt in the wind and it was painful to breathe and I wasn’t loving the snow as much for a few days but it eventually passed.


Hey, Winter, you’re number one!

I actually loved having the time to write.

To create characters and their families and places in time.

To allow these individuals to learn and react and create a world reacting along with them.

I have always loved writing.

I have kept a journal since I was 8 years old.

I don’t write in it every day and there are gaps over the years where maybe I didn’t have a blank journal to write in or I forgot to bring one along on a trip but for the most part, the last 34 years of my life are pretty well recorded.


The Collection

Complete with the odd plane ticket or concert ticket stub or something special to remember.

My journal has been my best friend many times over the years.

I tell it anything. And everything.

It doesn’t judge me and it doesn’t ask questions.

It doesn’t offer any advice or tell me my thoughts are inappropriate or wrong.

It also doesn’t tell me I’m correct about things or that I’m doing something the right way.


my current journal…love the aloha theme

It just offers me space to share what is going on in my head and in my mind whenever I need to.

Alistair has instructions to burn or publish the collection if I die before him.


What is left of my Dana, Paula and May series

I started writing books when I was 8 years old, as well.

My “Dana, Paula and May” series followed 3 young women around as they solved crimes and wore fancy dresses.

I illustrated these books and my third grade teacher allowed me to put them alongside the real books in the library area of our classroom.

I was lucky to have a teacher who nurtured me and my creativity like that.

The same teacher encouraged me to get the whole class involved in a play I wrote. Something about a prince being granted three wishes.

I cast the play and we practiced it and then we performed it on stage for the rest of the school.

My mom even came in and taught us all how to do The Hustle for the dance-party section of the play.

Man, I wish we had digital cameras back then.

I kept writing.

Not just the journal but some poems and monologues.

My high school drama teacher was also our librarian and she would suggest literature for me to read and we would discuss stories together.

She let me put a monologue on stage for people to watch.

I was lucky to have another teacher believe in me and my zany ideas and fantasies and dreams.

I know my imagination and creation of characters has driven some people nuts.

Like the whole Rhonda thing…


Rhonda Alyssa Koftinoff Fyfe… in my purse

(Rest assured, I will tell Rhonda’s story here but that’s for another time…)

And the singing ferrets and dancing cats and know-it-all Spaniels and the mixed breed, UB who has to comment about every Subaru on the road.

My imagination knows no bounds but I do know when to reign it in.

Or, I mostly have that figured out.

Its just that there is so much going on in my mind that I have to write it down or create it or video it.

This is probably why I don’t sleep much.

I always slept walked and talked as a kid but the insomnia didn’t start until I was 8 years old.

That was a huge year for me.

Our family moved from Vancouver where I was in love with school and ballet.

I was ready for toe shoes and the fast track to being a professional dancer. I still miss it.

For some reason when we moved to the small town of Grand Forks my brain tweaked and I stopped sleeping and my parents worried and my creativity took off.

I embrace it now and know how to sort of manage the sleep thing. Sort of. When I started sleep walking again last year and woke up outside of our cabin in the middle of a campground I realized stress from the clinic was taking over and my creative side was MIA.

So I closed the clinic.

And I wrote a book.


The first one…

I’m so freaking excited its not even funny.

Lost and Found in Missing Lake is a teen/young adult fictional story about a 15 year-old and his dad and stepmom and their small town in Montana.

Luke and his dad want to get serious about running their sled dogs.

Jackie, the stepmom, is a disillusioned veterinarian (a bit on the nose, I’ll admit); Luke helps her out a lot and together they meet some amazing individuals. This is where a bit of fun fantasy kicks in but I won’t spoil it for you.

Luke deals with a new school, having to make new friends, acne, driving and all of the emotional issues of adolescence and he shares it with the reader.

I miss him and his friends and I honestly can’t wait to write more about them. And Tabitha.


I self published because I got bored waiting for agents to respond to my queries.

Every book on writing suggests  you should submit to no less than 50 and more likely 250 agents before one will accept your work.

I submitted to 10.

I waited week after week to hear back and finally spent some serious time researching and editing and re-editing and editing some more and getting my friends and hubby to edit and found a great website to help me publish my book.

I’m pumped!

I’m setting up book signings.

I’m getting copies to good friends and people who I want to read my story.

Its a bit scary at times because this is from my imagination… its very personal.

And now its very real and in print and available through all Amazon outlets.

So now its all about the marketing, which is also why I’m writing about it here.

If you read it and you like it, please say so.

Or, get on Amazon and comment on it there. That’s how the book will get more promotion and more people will get to read about Luke and his cool dogs and his hippie English teacher and their sharing sessions and learn a bit of veterinary medicine and discover some amazing creatures as well.

Alistair, Dona, Gary, Whitney, Julie, Joshua, Lindsay and Andrea were my test audiences and sources of encouragement and laughter. Thanks, Gang.

And thanks, Mr.Tournemille and Ms.Cooke for letting me be me… as crazy as ‘me’ is.