I have a coffee and sweet treat every Saturday morning with my friend, Jude, who lives down the hallway. All through Zoom, of course. We take turns buying the treat. Jude left some yummy biscotti at my door last time. This week I am thinking bear claws.

As a single person, I sure miss hugs, but this 40-minute talk is like a “heart hug.” We need to make a lot of heart hugs to keep ourselves going. Heart hugs give us strength and act as a reminder that we will get through all of this.

Marie Aguirre, St. Paul

• • •

As I looked around at this latest Earth Day, I was amazed by how clean the air has become due to COVID-19. It seems there is one good thing to come of that virus. It shows us how clean the air can be without planes, cars, other things emitting pollution into the air.

It’s a wake-up call for all of us to strive to manage these emissions until we can get to something that will help us all breathe better. It can be done. It doesn’t have to be because we are quarantined. This is a challenge we can meet.

Barbara Aslakson, St. Louis Park

• • •

Many of us sitting at home are minimally affected by COVID-19. Yes, we must stay home and cannot personally visit with friends and family. Dining out in restaurants is kaput. But we do not have to go out to work in a factory or other business where we risk catching the virus ourselves. We do not have to take public transportation to get to our job, also putting us at risk for the virus. We just do not have to encounter other potentially infected people. We might either be retired with a nice pension and Social Security benefits or maybe we are professionals who can work from home and still get our paycheck.

We can, however, show our appreciation to those on the front lines by leaving a nice tip when we get our takeout orders. Leave a 50% tip or more if you can afford it. Send a check to your hair stylist or barber for the appointments you have had to forgo. Buy gift cards from your favorite restaurants and pass them out to those struggling to get through this, maybe a nurse you know who must go to work at a senior care facility.

We cannot turn this around by ourselves, but we can make life just a little bit less stressful for those who must face the real threat of infection by continuing to go to work.

Jim Page, Coon Rapids

• • •

I need to address the haircut issue.

I miss my clients. I miss making them feel and look great. I miss my co-workers.

I get it. I’ve been in the industry for 10 years, and am still afraid to cut my own hair. It’s more fun and less stressful to have a pro do it. It’s your head! You want it to look good!

Let’s take a step back, and look at some likely scenarios.

Your stylist goes back to work. They may have to redesign the interior of the salon in order to be at least 6 feet away from their co-workers, and their co-workers’ clients. They will most likely have to schedule extra time for cleaning, changing their masks and coordinating with their clients on when it’s OK for them to enter the salon. Waiting rooms will no longer be a thing. Don’t touch that magazine! How well was that register cleaned? Stylists will become receptionists, biohazard cleaners, temperature-testing hair gurus.

Let’s say your salon has eight stylists. They can average between five and 10 clients a day, per stylist. That’s at least 200 people per week. Let’s say your hairdresser lives with immunocompromised people. Let’s say they’re immunocompromised themselves. We don’t have hospital grade masks we could wear. Hospitals don’t even have enough of them. So even with every person wearing a mask, there is still a great risk. At least 200 people a week in one salon. Hot air blowing around. C’mon.

I know you want to support your stylist. I know you want your hair done. That’s OK. Please understand that it is far too soon for us to safely go back to work. And when it is, everyone will be wanting their hair done, and stylists may have less time in which to do them, in order to follow proper cleaning procedures. So please. Be patient. Reach out to your stylist. Ask for advice. Maybe they can even mix your color for you, and you can curbside-pick-up those chemicals and slap them on yourself. Be brave. Watch YouTube videos.

Most importantly, know we will be here for you when we can.

Tens of thousands of Americans have died while salons have been closed. Imagine what that number will be if we open prematurely.

Marian Widen, Minneapolis

• • •

In these sad and troubled times, it is a comfort to start the day with the Star Tribune. So many of our daily patterns are changed/suspended, but you continue to inform and entertain us. My heartfelt thanks to your staff for your excellence in continuing to serve us in this difficult time.

I also want to commend cartoonist Steve Sack for the many ways he brings us thought-provoking messages and many smiles, which we so need right now. His deep knowledge of current events, combined with his amazing humor plus artistic skills (we always know exactly whom he is portraying!) make his cartoons so special in so many ways. Do his reflections sometimes cause an “ouch” reflex? Yup! But this is what a good editorial cartoonist does. A cartoon in the editorial section is meant to not only amuse, but also to illuminate and critique what is going on in the world. And Steve Sack does that so well — we find ourselves checking the Sack cartoons first thing. He is always on target!

Thank you, Steve Sack, and thank you, Star Tribune!

Diane Pietrs, St. Paul

• • •

Years before death darkened my dad’s doorstep, he had made arrangements with the Minnesota Cremation Society for his own cremation, and he’d asked me to write his obituary. (Not only was Dad able to proof his own obituary, he was also able to take in the deep appreciation and devotion his life prompted.) While I was deeply honored by the request and appreciative of the burden he was proactively relieving us kids of, my mom declared his actions morbid.

A recent Star Tribune article, “Clergy prepare for own deaths” (April 18), cited a healthy 68-year-old Episcopal priest who — prompted by the very real threat of COVID-19 — proactively planned her own funeral. She noted how “few people are up for this conversation.”

And, yet, there’s something about this global pandemic that’s forcing — if not this full conversation — at least a more heightened awareness of our own mortality and that of those we love most in this world. My son, a helicopter pilot in the Navy and self-professed invincible badass, challenged my husband and me about visits to our grandchildren during this time of sheltering in place. In a FaceTime call, he voiced concern that the risks we were taking with our health were not ours alone to make. He then made a brief, uncharacteristic and altogether heartwarming case that he wanted us to hang around this life a bit longer.

While I don’t underestimate the depth, breadth or duration of COVID-19’s destructive nature, I appreciate its silver lining.

Cory Gideon Gunderson, Lakeville

• • •

Imagine my surprise when I took a small piece of paper out of my mailbox from the Tangletown Neighborhood Association in Minneapolis where I live. It began, “Hi, neighbor,” and let me know that neighbors were organizing to make sure that every person gets the help they need during this difficult time. “This could be running an errand, help with food access, aid after job loss, or simply having someone to connect with over the phone or e-mail. ... Please know that a network of neighbors is prepared to have your back right now. We’re just a phone call or e- mail away. ... These are challenging times, but we know we can get through this together. Your neighbors are here for you.”

Thank you, neighbors! Your note makes me feel valued, important, cared-for (not alone) — even loved! Yes, we can get through this pandemic together!

Mary Lundberg, Minneapolis

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