COVID-19 in the North End

Image of “Love the Ones You’re With” by Wendy Blickenstaff via @FABarnhill
Stay tuned for more about Wendy’s artwork and visit her website at

As we enter the third month of Coronavirus invading our nation and the end of the first 30 days in which Idaho had paid attention to the virus, the death toll is mounting here and throughout the country. The pandemic has reached arguably epic proportions and shows no hint of slowing so far. For that reason, and because it was brought to my attention by my friend Cherie Buckner-Webb, I open this blog installment with a poem written by an Irish-French Catholic poet, Kathleen O’Meara, also known as Grace Ramsay, in 1869 after a plague devastated Ireland.

And people stayed home
and read books and listened
and rested and exercised
and made art and played
and learned new ways of being
and were still
and listened more deeply
someone meditated
someone prayed
someone danced
someone met their own shadow
and people started thinking differently—-
And people healed…
And in the absence of people who lived in ignorant ways
dangerous, mindless, and heartless….
The earth began to heal—
And when the danger ended
and people found themselves…
They grieved for the dead
and they made new choices
and dreamed of new visions
and created new ways to live
and heal the earth fully
just as they had been healed.

I have been abiding in semi-isolation as my second cycle or rounds of chemo treatment began after my big, nasty surgery in late December. This time is also my anniversary of the cancer diagnosis and beginning of my cancer journey. Coronovirus is adding insult to injury. It has made life more than miserable for my medical teams in Idaho and Utah. It is a dangerous disease which I am now devoting time and energy to in our Facebook groups The Northend with 8,500+ members and a special group I helped found named Idaho Covid 19 Mutual Aid Group which amassed over 20,000 members in 10 days.

For me, and for the purposes of this post and the website I will try to focus on the positive.

Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) Frontline Love from the North End.

April 29, 2020 ~ We delivered on 3 weeks of planning and work putting together “North End Frontline Love” goody bags for local first responders, St. Alphonsus ER and St. Lukes Boise. I will adding a blog post dedicated to the effort, Jeannie Jaggi (North End super volunteer) and our great donors Boise Co-op, Idaho River Sports, Goody’s and Mallard Family Dentistry.

March 26, 2020 ~ Positive responses from our community like TRICA’s own Jon Swarthout’s Living Room Dance Class for children to enjoy at home. Learn history and culture in a fun and engaging approach.

Or the fun City Bear Hunt in the North End that has spread throughout Boise to help distract kids who are stuck at home and away from their friends and classmates. (Thanks to Corrine Henke for bring this to my attention)

Photo courtesy of Ronnie Parsons

Here’s the message from St. Luke’s nurses we all have to follow to beat this thing while continuing to support local businesses who are facing a crisis. We’re launching an effort to put together “Frontline Love” goody bags for hospital emergency, ICU and testing station medical personnel to show our appreciation and give them something to help them smile.

Photo courtesy of the St. Lukes nurses shown

I also must post this… Wendy Blickenstaff lives in the North End and is creating public art to be found around the neighborhood on telephone posts and fences that is truly inspired and beautiful. Local journalist Anna Webb has been tracking them down and posted this on Twitter.

I want to give our own local musical great Curtis Stigers a shout out for his collaboration with his pianist Larry Goldings on Shut-Ins – A romantic song about social distancing with the one you love. Words and music by Bill DeMain and the same Larry Goldings.

Our friend Steve Fulton penned a new song named “Not That Far” with some great lyrics.

I wanna tell you that I’m thinking of you
Just so you know I’m not that far away
I know it’s scary in this day and age but
If we stick together we’ll all be less afraid

Time passes through us
No one will elude this
Grab hold of my hand and enjoy what we can
Grab hold of a hand and enjoy what is unplanned

I called to make sure you were doing OK
Just didn’t want you feelin all alone
Would you let me know if I can do anything
If I could I’d carry us away

Time passes through us
No one will elude this
Grab hold of my hand and enjoy what we can
Grab hold of a hand and enjoy what is unplanned

Just so you know I’m not that far away…

We’re also so lucky to live where we can be in the undeveloped Boise foothills and trails of the our Ridges to Rivers within minutes from almost anywhere in the North End and Highlands. Our friend Jim Harper reminds with posts of scenery and nature from the quiet and sublime to whimsical like this close up from March 30, 2020.

Courtesy Jim Harper

The DeWitt’s have been enjoying visits from about four pairs of wood ducks and mallards in their backyard along the old Boise City Canal in the North End. Jim DeWitt has captured many beautiful images which I will add as possible.

Photo courtesy of Jim DeWitt

One of the unintended benefits of COVID-19 is the affect on our environment. Not only are residents of Venice experiencing seeing clear water in their world famous canals, there have been reports of dolphin sightings! Here in Idaho, air quality has improved locally because of reduced car travel in and out of Boise. The empty streets on a Saturday night downtown is nonetheless an eerie, unusual sight.

Photo courtesy of Chip Schultz – Instagram @chipschultz

Keeping the conversation going despite the #stayathome order can be a chore… unless you’re in the North End. Residents are creative and motivated to make you smile as you go about your business. No #socialdistancing with this guy on Harrison Boulevard.

Photo by Barbara Ertter

And the creativity doesn’t stop there. On N. 13th a kind neighbor included our pups in their effort to make staying home a bit more fun by creating a “dog stick toy library”.

Photo by Abby Hoefler

Here’s a nice soundtrack with video from our own Hull’s Gulch to brighten up your day from Jill Giese. She and her pup Poppy frequent the foothills often.

Video by Jill Giese and Poppy in Hull’s Gulch

Come back for more when you can. I hope to continue to curate the positive from our The Northend group and elsewhere. Thank you!

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