- It’s day six since the Almeda Fire started. We last left the house on errands (other than stepping out to look at the sky and yard) last Thursday.
- One cat was sitting on the floor. Another one came around the corner, encountering the first. Both released a startled, “Meow!” We thought that was so funny. I think maybe we’ve been locked up in the house too long.
- Looking back to March. COVID-19 struck. Stay in the house, we’re warned. Then, wear a mask. Businesses shut down. Eventually, we made progress about what should and shouldn’t be done. Businesses opened and set up to accommodate new guidelines to help flatten the curve. Summer arrives. We’re warned to curtail outdoor activities due to extreme temperatures. Wildfires spread up and down along the west coast. We’re warned to stay inside because of unhealthy air. The Almeda Fire starts in our town and rips north and west, destroying hundreds of homes and businesses within twelve hours. We’re warned to stay inside because of hazardous air.
- Meanwhile, we monitor hurricanes and cyclones, melting ice caps, rain and flooding in other places.
- It’s been a tense and stressful six months.
- With all that’s happened in the world, and the things we’ve survived, we’re still among the more fortunate.
- Took the trash out last night. The smoke’s smell seemed less offensive and irritating. Am I developing a tolerance to the stench, or is it finally starting to leave our valley? Naturally I check purpleair.com. Eureka! One monitor reports we’re down to two hundred in one part of town and below four hundred. If we can lop off two hundred more, the air will be just ‘unhealthy’.
- My broken arm and hand’s swelling has finally significantly decreased. I can make a fist with little pain and tightness. Hurrah for progress!
- Writing isn’t going well. I’m an info junkie, hunting a fix, and vetting what I learn. I keep letting myself off the hook. Where the hell is my discipline? Going to go get some coffee, and you know…try to write like crazy, at least one more time.
Okay, I blew my nose this morning, one of the first things I did after peeing. Then I looked at what I’d blown out.
Not the sort of thing to think about, isn’t it?
Some people don’t like to. Bodies may be temple, but whatever is in it should stay hidden.
That’s not what I believe.
I started thinking about this because a rant on Facebook was about how horrified someone was by another blowing their nose and then looking at it. I thought, why not? This is a discharge from my body and its processes. Of course I’m going to look at it. I want to know what the hell is coming out of me. Especially if I’m feeling a little under the weather, more stopped up than usual, or I’m recovering from something, or coping with a health issue, or, like today, dealing with unhealthy air. Doctors and nurses will ask you about its color and consistency; you should know it.
Likewise, I check out my urine and feces. I want to know the results of my bowel movements. Again, it’s part of my body and evidence about what’s going on in there. If I could check my blood regularly and get test results, I would. One thing learned as I’ve aged is that symptoms of underlying conditions don’t usually reveal until they combine into something serious that starts taking me down.
I’m tired of people being dainty about these things. Hiding it, not looking at it, not discussing it unless they’re being closed doors. Ridiculous. Knowledge and information can help us understand and grow. Hiding your knowledge about your body from yourself and others just spreads ignorance.
So don’t turn away. Look at what comes out of you. Talk about it with others. How the hell are you supposed to learn otherwise?
I’m weary of all the silos we’ve built in the name of conventions, norms, and polite societies. I don’t think these manufactured artifices serve us.
So come on. Stop crying, “TMI,” and join the information revolution.
Start telling your friends about your crap.
My friend passed away this week. It’s the polite way of saying he died, an easy way to express and digest it without harsher emotions and pain attached to it. He passed away. It’s like a boat sailing into a sunset, going on a journey, out of sight beyond an horizon, but really still there.
Ed was eighty-nine. He had a brain tumor. Actions were taken, but the body is the body.
He had a spectacular intelligence and a sharp sense of humor. I was flattered to know him and pleased that he sought my company. We always had lively conversations. Since I’ve known him, he’s had white and gray hair, with a receding hair line, and a gray and white riotous beard. His daughter included a photo of him from his youth. Turned out he used to be a blond, handsome man, a far reach from the fellow I knew in appearance. Yet, the resemblance beyond the superficialities of hair and beard was clearly there.
After gaining his PhD from Stanford, he joined NASA in the mid 1960s and was with them until he retired a few decades later. He was less involved with manned space exploration and more engaged with sending satellites out to find information and send it back.
In one sense, we’ve been expecting Ed’s death, in one form or another, since he was born. In another, it took him sooner than we hoped, and we wonder if it’s the curse of 2020.
I know that he’s not the only one who died this week, and that his life and death was much better than what many experience. His daughter informed us of Ed’s death on Wednesday.
“So last night mom went in to chat with dad. His breathing for 48 hours had been in the labored, raggedy stage. But he opened his eyes and they sparkled and he smiled. Mom chattered to him and told him it was ok if it was time for him to go. They had walked a lifetime together. She loved him but could let him go. I came in after to sit the rest of the evening not realizing what mom had said and told him “You’ve climbed a lot of mountains, and this has been a grand adventure of a life, it’s time to finish this final climb. We will walk it all the way to the end with you.” One tear rolled down his eye and about two minutes later I watched him hold his breath, carrying what had become a common pause in breathing, just a little further, and he was gone. He took it before it took him. And that’s the way he wanted it.He set the tone for all of us all the way along this last one year+. And I promise you he spent a lot of time over those 6 days, mostly pain free, sitting as an observer to this final unfolding, with his always enthusiastic and curious mind. He showed no struggle, no despair, no sadness. He fully leaned in to the enitre journey. I think he just would have liked it to go a little longer. But no regrets.”
I always wonder what happens after death, spiritually, but also along the lines of quantum existence. If there is something more, I’m sure Ed will make the most of it. If not, he led a life here worthy of being emulated and celebrated.
Either way, damn, I will miss him.
A graph is worth a lot of description.
Outside the home office window. Not a peak of blue, and nothing of the forests and mountains beyond the line of houses across the street. Ground visibility is about two hundred yards. Photo and graph was as of 10:30 AM, September 11, 2020.
By the way, this wasn’t technically a wild fire. It started as a grass fire and consumed urban areas. It wasn’t the forests on fires; it was the cities.
I broke my left arm on July 7, 2020. Both the ulna and radius (distal ends) were broken by the wrist. The ulna had mild displacement but the radius was all the way across my arm, with the tip threatening to break out of my skin on the outside of the ulna. Looking back, my hand and fingers had also been crushed under my weight as I fell. I couldn’t bend or straighten my fingers or thumb for the first several days. Now I’m working to get it all back.
I wore a splint for six weeks. Film showed healing and no movement so I was given a removable splint. I wore it for most of the first two days. Swelling was heavy, as was inflammation. I try to avoid drugs but ended up using Ibuprofen, per my ortho’s recommendation.
I haven’t seen him since my first two appointments. I’ve been turned over to a young PA. I’m not concerned; I think it’s better that my condition is good enough that I don’t need the top person’s attention, thanks. But his wife, our friend, says I should insist on seeing her husband. Her approach makes me smile.
Progress is evident, with victory celebrated by little things. I can now type with both hands. My left hand is again effective for scratching an itchy spot on my right side. I can hold a glass or mug full of water or coffee and drink from it using my left hand, and I can open the microwave, oven, and refrigerator doors with it. House door handles remain a challenge. I can’t rotate my wrist enough.
I’m seeing progress with rotation, with less pain and stiffness everyday. Bending the wrist forward and back is a problem. I’m working on it.
I began working out with two pound weights a few day ago. My elbow and shoulder movement and strength are improving by the day. Last night, I used five pound weights. Eight curls, although not to full extension or contraction, were achieved. Eight pound weights were tried, with some success but a great deal of tremors, pain, and discomfort.
It’s all coming together, though. I consider myself fortunate. I had good medical care and insurance, and could pay for whatever I needed, and my genes seem pretty good in this regard. Many in this world aren’t as lucky.
Thanks for reading. Cheers
I don’t know what woke me. The wind was imitating a full-throttled gas leaf blower outside the window, hammering the house walls with whatever it could find to fling (yeah, that’s how it sounded). One cat was on the bed, and the wife was restless.
I think, though, it was pain. I’d somehow rolled around while I slept, ending up with my mending arm and hand bent underneath my weight. The hand was crying, and was too stiff to straighten at all.
I massaged it and listened to the wind beating the world, wondering what it was doing to our garden, trash can, roof, and everything else. After a bit of that, I adjusted my hand in a safe space elevated on a pillow and settled back into sleeping mode.
The dream slyly crept in. Someone said, “Yes, we have the body before us. We can see the injuries and damages and know how to repair them. We are sending thousands of cosmic construction teams to the area.”
My wife tapped me awake. “It’s really scary outside. The wind is blowing hard and steady.”
“I know. I hear it.”
My Fitbit said, 5:25. I was miffed to be awakened and eager to return to sleep. The dream still had my thoughts entangled. I pictured the cosmic construction teams and their work. I imagined them with nano-sized machines up beside my bones, muscles, and joints. Hard hats on, they’re looking around and chatting, tapping their feet, arms crossed, assessing damages, deciding on a plan. Then the word is given and they go to work.
It was an amusing, yet wonderful and reassuring thought, that somewhere in me, cosmic construction teams are going to work.
Enticing and so wicked
dirty and obscene
the things I lust and cry for
make me feel unclean
stealing a little pizza
having a beer on the side
drinking in the darkness
furtively sipping wine
and the stars are still shining
and the world still turns
though I went off my diet
oh, the evil in me burns
Having this broken arm stirred memories and prompted realizations.
- My broken wrist, broken neck, and this broken arm, my only three breaks, involved the summer months. I wore the halo from June through August (yeah, in the Okinawa humidity — we lived off base and didn’t have A/C) and had the wrist pins and cast July and August (central Germany).
- Worst thing about the halo was that I dislodged it. I’d talked everyone into letting me return to work. Yes, I was clever, charming, and quick back then, a deadly combo. Barely at work for an hour, I sat down in a chair, leaned back, and flipped over. The halo held my head immobile with four screws. I’d managed to knock my head out of them. Blood everywhere. This was about eleven at night, the mid shift. Commander, paramedics, ambulance all arrive. My CC and the paramedics enter an argument; my CC wants to ride with me. They wouldn’t let him.
- After that night, wife, friends, boss, doc. were all of the opinion that I should just stay home.
- When my halo was removed, my head felt weirdly light. (Guess I was light headed…) My wife and friends said my head would start bobbing during the first few days. They worked hard not to laugh. I never noticed it.
- My CC then, Col. Mike Kerr, was one of my favorite commanders, but I was fortunate to have several good ones. He’d had twenty-four staples in his skull. This all happened in the Vietnam era. He was a forward ground controller, but had additional duties on base. There’d been a mortar attack. His job was to go out, find unexploded ordinance, mark it, and call it in. The enemy knew this routine, so they put snipers in trees just outside the base. One was shooting at Kerr, so Kerr hunted him down. Hand to hand combat ensued. Kerr received his injuries.
- My splint is off. My arm has shrunk. Dry skin and wrinkles abound. I’m wearing a removable wrist brace. Elbow movement is very good but hand, wrist, and fingers need work. The healing continues.
I believe I posted most of this stuff before.
Hope you’re all surviving and thriving, wherever you are. Wear your damn mask, please.
- Poor air quality today. Only a fool doesn’t pause to think, “But we’re not on fire. We’re not evacuating.” Even agnostic me thinks, “Come on, whatever power there is – God, Jehovah, Allah, Flying Spaghetti Monster, Universe. Help California.”
- The list of places, people, and animals requiring help continues to grow. Just a few short months ago, we held our breath as Australia burned. Now 77 fires in fifteen states are burning. California has lost 1,000,000 acres. Read of the sad situation on CNN.
- Need to indulge in a somber moment of reflection after reading that.
- Boy, there are so many good reads out. Masked and walking downtown (after picking up library books), we arrived at an Ashland book store, Bloomsbury, and ogled the window display and the plethora of offerings. It’s a sigh moment. I want to read more but I also want to write more. Doing more of either encourages more of both. It’s a vicious and delicious damn cycle.
- Being downtown on Saturday did nothing to assuage our rona worries. Town was very busy. Signs requiring masks while downtown were frequent and prominent. There wasn’t any enforcement, so groups of the great unmasked were regularly encountered. Not a surprise, given that 57% of Republicans think the current level of death from COVID-19 in the U.S. — almost 180,000 people in five months — is acceptable.
- Still not much better as a one-handed typist. Type a sentence, and then go back and fix all the typos. Going to the doc for a follow up. Fingers crossed (on right hand; that remains impossible on the left). He told me last time that could probably fit a removable splint today. Like I say, fingers crossed.
- Time to leave for the doc, so later, gator.
- Busy dream night. Left me feeling energized. I was flying in one dream. An incredible, vivid dream, I woke up confused at finding myself in a bed, in a room, and on the ground. Other than flying, feeling and hearing the wind while looking down on the world, there wasn’t much else to it. But I did think while looking down at mountains, forests, and seas, the world is a fine place. Such a different impression I experience while reading the news each day.
- I have noted a trend. Lots of dreams translates to high writing energy. It doesn’t work out as well as it might sound. I can’t keep up with my brain’s layered intensity to the story being followed. The ability to do that might separate critically and commercially successful writers from the rest of us pluggers. I’m working on it. Just like other acquired forms (athletics, music, art, math, reading, etc.), discipline and repetition can improve the process and outcome.
- Other than a foray to 104 degrees F Friday, we’ve been spared the triple-digit forecast. Sat. was supposed to be 105, Sunday, 108, but we hit ‘just’ 99 and 98. Today will only be 98. Lots of cloud cover so no need for the AC. The clouds block that sun, good for keeping cool, not so much for the solar panels. I’m happy with the trade.
- I can always tell when we’re not producing much solar energy. The inverter is in the garage. When the panels are cranking, it sounds like a large hive of angry murder bees. As of now, it’s putting out 900 watts and is quiet as a sleeping cat.
- Did a little typing with my left hand today. Progress. Return to doc a week from today. Fingers crossed…on my right hand.
- Yeah, got the coffee. Actually already drank it. Already wrote for two hours this morning. It was write, read, post, play a game, write, repeat. So time to continue writing like crazy one…more…time.