Friday’s Theme Music

The Earth rolled over. The sun’s first feeble rays hove into view.

5:34 AM.

“Morning has broken. Like the first morning.”

Too early for nonsense.

Thought processes were engaged. Thursday? No, Friday. June something. Eleventh. Still 2021.

Rain fell outside. The sunshine drooped. Clouds barged in. The heater kicked on. Cats slumbered. He would slumber on, too. What time was sunset today? Eight something. 8:47 PM, he remembered, eyes closed, breathing deepening. He returned to his dream. Better there anyway.

Dream songs enter. “All I want to do is dream.” “All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray.” “These dreams go on when I close my eyes.” “Sweet dreams are made of these. Who am I to disagree?” “Runnin’ down a dream. That never would come to me.” “Dream weaver, I believe you can get me through the night.” “Dream on.”

He sleeps and dreams. Awakens. Half-hearted sunshine lights the bedroom. Coffee, he thinks. The list. Things must be done. He heads into the bathroom. Songs walk with him. “Stray cat strut, I’m a ladies’ cat.” “In the year of the cat.”

The coffee pot beckons in the kitchen. Sunshine withers to a softer shade of pale. Let it rain, rain, rain. Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head. The sky is crying.

He sips his coffee. Enter Ringo Starr. “It don’t come easy. You know it don’t come easy.” Uriah Heep responds. “This is a thing I’ve never known before, it’s called easy living.” Charlie Daniels strikes back with “Uneasy Rider”. He needs to write. “Paperback writer,” the Beatles sing. A truck rolls back outside. “Truckin'” by the Grateful Dead begins. 1970. He heads for the other room. “It’s raining again.” Supertramp. There’s a song for every thought. “I think we’re alone now.” “Do ya think I’m sexy?” “You better think. Think!” “Did you think it’s alright if we leave the boy with Uncle Ernie?”

Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask as needed, and get that vax.

Sunday’s Theme Music

After peeking in through windows at 5:38 AM in Ashland with shy pale goldens, the sun boldly shouldered in, shouting, “We got your sunshine. We got your daylight.” Such a bold sun plans to put out browning, sweat-inducing heat, don’t you know. Temperatures will hunt the lower nineties before the sun, still in its place, disappears from the valley at 20:39.

Got the darkness trying to throttle me. It’s a debilitating but brief trough experienced when I ponder what’s the use of all this nonsense? I was walking as it struck, like a bolt into my soul, just before sunset last night. Because a wildfire is being fought and people evacuated, I was thinking about wildfires and water shortages. Many new homes are being built in Ashland. Development is the daily cry as the trucks lumber in with supplies and workers busy with foundations and walls. We were already being told to conserve water. Now there is less water to be divided among more households.

Dev is good but with that shrinking water base, we also have an expanding wildfire season. Before COVID-19 shut down activities, wildfire smoke did the same, cratering the local economy becoming an annual thing. The first time it happened, businesses dismissed it as a one off. Second time, some pulled the plug. Third time, dark mutterings about what are we going to do were heard.

City council lacks the leadership to move out of this mess. Frankly, the mess is bigger than them. Is it climate change? By the time sufficient data is collected, we probably won’t be around to know. Meanwhile, the new houses being built are closer together as land becomes a precious commodity. Streets are narrower. Traffic density rises. Did I mention that a two-lane state highway longitudinally bisects the town? Only one way in and out, not a reassuring realization for planning evacuations. Every street feeds into it.

With the darkness and these bleak realizations colliding, on came an old song by the Smiths. Here are the lines.

This town has dragged you down
And everybody’s got to live their life
And God knows I’ve got to live mine
God knows I’ve got to live mine

h/t to Genius.com

The 1984 song is called, “William, It Was Really Nothing”. Yes, it’s really nothing; just a little darkness nibbling the psyche. Stay positive (you know, like me!), test negative, wear a mask as needed, and get the vax. Cheers

Thoughts

I spent over twenty years in the military, 1974 to 1995. The Cold War was underway. The U.S. and U.S.S.R. and the allies of each were constantly ready to fight a war. Stationed in Germany for several years, we used to practice wearing our hazmat suits and gas masks, taking shelter as we were attacked. I did the same during war games in Korea and Egypt.

Wearing the suits and masks wasn’t fun. That experience rendered it much easier to wear masks during the pandemic. These masks over our mouths, attached to our ears, are much easier to wear.

I’ve just finished reading The Splendid and the Vile. This book by Erik Larson covers Winston Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister. World War II had begun six months before. The London Blitz began that first year, 1940. The tales of deprivation are stunning. Larson uses multiple sources to weave a narrative not just about Churchill, England, and the Blitz, but about Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, Hess, FDR, and the many people around Churchill coping with him, helping Churchill, and hunting for the way forward.

Imagine those times in the United Kingdom as bombers flew overhead through the night skies, dropping incendiary devices, and then bombs, feeling the ground shake with violence as buildings were shredded and people were killed. Imagine being one of those people in London and other cities, enduring as food and tea was rationed, gas, electric, and water services were interrupted, fighting fires, worrying about unexploded bombs if you survived the raid, then going to work. Imagine sleeping in air raid shelters in squalid conditions. Imagine the black-out demands where lights were left off, forcing all to stumble through darkness.

And so many here, in 2021, complain about social distancing. They won’t wear a mask, because fake news. Freedom.

They know nothing. They should have been in London or any of the other cities around the world that experienced these conditions. Then maybe they’d realize what sacrifice means. A mask? Six feet apart?

Really. It is nothing.

Wear the mask. Stay positive. Test negative. Get the vax.

Digitized Smells

I have my telemedicine video call today. It has an element incorporated that I knew nothing about: digitized smell.

Apparently, recent software improvements has been added to many video-conferencing systems. These improvements capture local air, digitize it, send it through the net to the other end, and then reproduces the smell. This is being done in conjunction with telemedicine calls because studies show that patients develop greater confidence and feel calmer when they experience ‘hospital smells’. That mélange of odors isn’t by accident. It’s actually a carefully contrived blend created by psychologists and marketing specialists over decades of study. It is the smell which makes people feel safer, more secure, and soothed.

Trippy, right? All this time, I thought the smells were an accidental by-product.

The second aspect of the technology is that it allows the healthcare practitioners to smell you. That aids them in their assessment about your state of health.

I can see that. Makes total sense. It’s also fake news. Yes, fiction. Made it all up. Yep, I lied.

Wednesday’s Theme Music

Here we are, as helpless as a kitten on a Wednesday. Yes, it’s April 21, 2021. Our friendly sun came around 6:21 AM, and will wave so long at about 7:59 PM, all times Pacific. Cool again today, despite a sunny, clear day. 54 F right now. Rain showers struck yesterday. They hit lightly as a kitten swatting for about six minutes. We’re behind on our rain. Simultaneous countdowns are in progress. When will water constraints be imposed? And wildfire season is coming. As there’s spreading, major drought throughout the U.S. west, a bad one is expected. Fingers crossed, hold your breath, children. Here we go again.

It’s just like shooting deaths in the U.S., isn’t it? Every day brings more news of such events. Then, here we go again. A cop shot a black. Here we go again. Someone armed with an automatic weapon went on a rampage somewhere. Texas. California. Wisconsin. Here we go ago.

No surprise that I’m stuck on “Holding Out for A Hero”. I featured the 1984 Bonnie Tyler song before, back in 2017. Well, what was true then is true now. We need a hero. None is on the horizon. We’re going to muddle through without change and plenty of outrage and hand-wringing, supporting the world’s largest and most powerful military while ensuring citizens have the right to fight back in case said military and government turns on the people. Yeah, like that hasn’t happen before here in the U.S. Check your history, please.

A friend shared a FB post that made me laugh and summed up the general sit. The post was essentially about why the Japanese didn’t continue on to attempt the invade the U.S. after bombing Pearl Harbor. The post was all about how the Japanese commanders were aware of American hunters. How many people have hunting licenses and are armed in the U.S. So think about that when you think about gun control. Sure, the Japanese were willing to take on the Chinese and Korean military, but not the American hunter. Okay. Even if we agree that might have some merit back in 1941, does it have any merit now? Look at how the police are armored up. If anything, the argument and discussion is more about the growing absurdity of war. Yet, we roll on, bombing and shooting, firing rockets and missiles, building bigger and more sophisticated weapon systems aimed at more effectively killing the enemy while killing the human race and the planet in parallel. Always wonder how they ever managed to reach that period of peace in Star Trek that allowed us to begin working together, harness technology, and move forward.

Here’s the music. Wear a mask, get the vax, stay positive, and test negative. Cheers

Thursday’s Theme Music

Glory to you and welcome. Today is the old U.S. tax day, Thursday, April 15, 2021, when taxes needed to be filled, or an extension requested (and even if you get an extension, you’ll pay penalties and interest on any taxes owed). The tax deadline filing date is slipped back to May 17 this year, so you got time if you need it.

Sunrise came to Ashland in southern Oregon — boom — at 6:30 AM exactly. Sunfade is anticipated at 7:52 PM. What a bright sun it is, too, already warming our cool mountain valley air to 55 degrees F.

Been out shopping this morning, the usual Medford supply run for food and treats. Restocked my coffee (we are saved!). Love that French Roast stuff.

My mind started noodling the old 10,000 Maniacs song, “These Are Days”, when I was masking up while I was out. By old, I mean, 1992. These are days we’ll remember, I’m sure. Those just being born will hear about it. Those gathering again at high school reunions in ten years will be talking about, as will those getting married, and those of us just skimming along, doing our thang. Makes it an apropos song for any time, though I wonder what they’ll say about these days in a hunnert years.

Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask, and get the vax. Cheers

Going-out Day

Going-out day was coming up. Just twelve days until they would toddle out to re-discover the world.

He thought, what should I do about my beard? He played with it during the thirteen months, twice shaving it off to begin again. No matter. It wasn’t the beard that dissatisfied him but the foundation underneath it. The sagging on display. As for his hair…oh.

She brought out her clothes. Examination of style and fit was conducted. Her shoes followed. She thought about what to do with her hair. A lot could happen to hair in thirteen months.

They made tentative plans. Cautious. Visits to new old places were broached. Small dreams of where they could go and what to do were nurtured. They would still wear masks. Of course. Wash hands. Avoid contact. Socialize outside.

She marked her calendar. Hairdresser. Dentist, hard times in cautious ink on the calendar, the first mark on its fresh pages. He planned a day in his mind. Beer with friends. He’d not seen them in thirteen months, except one of them. Two who were there before would not be there.

A lot of life happened in thirteen months. It was a heavy weight.

Friday Laments

More first world blues…I’m just cryin’ in my coffee.

  1. One problem with the local C-19 vaccination plan: teachers are a high priority. Great! Many agree with this. But, boo, the shots are being administered during school hours. It’s not a dash and do, either.
  2. Our biggest issue in Oregon is as it is elsewhere, just not enough C-19 vaccine to do the job. People are generally accepting and patient, because that’s how it goes for now.
  3. I went for years without a doctor. Then I had trouble in Peckerville and ended up with a urologist. The trials exposed my hypertension, so I ended up with a GP. Each prescribed medications for conditions – BHP and BP – that I’ll probably take for the rest of my life. Less than three years later, both of these medical professionals are gone. They’d moved into the area, it didn’t work out, and they moved away. I liked both and they did a good job, but I’ll need to find someone new when my prescriptions expire this year.
  4. The healthcare insurance front grows more expensive for me. As a veteran and military retiree after twenty years, I had good healthcare insurance via Tri-Care. There were no premiums. That went on for years. Now, starting this year, I must pay $25 per month premiums. Not bad. But, since I’m turning 65, I’m required to get Medicare Parts A and B in order to keep my Tri-Care. A is free; B is about $150 per month. Guess this is all due to that wonderful ‘support the troops’ rhetoric that I often hear. As it so often happened, big promises were made with great patriotic fanfare and furor. Then, when the bill came, everything changed.
  5. I’ve ordered meals online from restaurants three times in the last three months. Each was to give us breaks from what’s in our larder and breaks from cooking. It’s a treat. But each time, they’ve offered a coupon, and then, each time, there’s no place to enter the coupon code when the order is processed. Small matter, but irritating: like a lot of modern life, it seems like a false promise.
  6. What I’m watching: “Baptiste” on PBS via Prime — terrific series; “His Dark Materials” on HBOMax, very strong, good production values and acting, faithful to the trilogy; “Doom Patrol” on HBOMax but it’s falling in our appreciation as the characters become sillier and seem to take forever to come to grip with matters; “All Creatures Great and Small”, a remake of the first series of that name, based on the books, and it’s almost as entertaining and charming as the first go-around. We’re not watching “The Undoing” which just seemed too insipid in too many ways after three episodes; we prefer more dynamic and intelligent characters. Just recommended to us is Portait of A Lady on Fire and Mary Shelley, so they’ve been added to the list. Still working through the last of “Vera” and “The Wire” during late night down time.
  7. Hulu manages to continue to irk me. Their system often seems to think we’ve watched an episode that we haven’t and wants to jump us ahead. It’s happened enough times that I don’t just click and go, but make mental notes: what’s the season, episode number, and title that I’m watching now? What was the last one watched? What’s the summary? Did we see this? No. I saw others experienced this. The fix is the digital equivalent of a hard reboot or a hammer to an appliance: sign out and sign back in. That works most of the time, it’s claimed. Guess I’ll try it. Haven’t done so yet because logging in with a remote is a pain, you know? I’m such a whiner.
  8. Meanwhile, Prime Video, the service previously known as Amazon Prime Video, has the opposite issue, insisting that I haven’t watched an episode when I’ve already watched it.
  9. Got my coffee. Time once again to write like crazy. Meeting Text for the first time today. She’s the late Zipper’s daughter. Looking forward to what she has to say.

So the Thoughts

So the thoughts go, ah, another cousin has died. He was seventy-three. Positive for COVID-19, kidney failure was his cause of death.

The thoughts continue, when did I see him last? What happened to him in the interim?

The thoughts drift…did he marry and have children? Who are they and where do they live?

The thoughts roll on to other uncles and aunts and their children, and their children’s children.

Two other cousins passed away in 2020. Hadn’t seen one in two decades. Almost six had passed since I’d seen the other. They and I were small children. Also passing was an aunt, not seen since I was two or three.

In a modern age of connection and travel, it’s startling to recognize how many of my family members I know about, and how little I know about them.

Two related stories are there to be told. One is of a cousin fourteen years younger. He was friends with my sister via FB. (My sister has a different father than me and last name and she’s since married a few times.) He reached out to her: “Hey, how come my mom’s maiden name and your brother’s last name are the same?” He was too young to remember me, and didn’t know about our connection.

Another friend request came in last year. Mom’s older brother had a son who know lives north of me by a few hours. Can we be friends? A few years older, he and I have a lot in common. On one FB exchange today, we discovered that we attended the same Joe Cocker concern a few years ago. From our description of where we were sitting, we were within yards of one another.

It’s a large world and a small world, a world tangled with connections and distance. I began trying to untangle some of it today.

Monday’s Theme Music

I was out helping my wife with the Food and Friends Project. She’s the official volunteer. Once a week, the takes her place in the rotation to deliver meals to shut-in seniors. The list has become reduced to one page, just eight clients for her route, since the pandemic has set in. We know a few passed away to non-COVID-19-related issues. We wonder about the rest. I’m just the driver, helping her so it goes quicker for her, and it gets me out of the house, doing something else.

While out, I saw so many people walking alone. Of course, I generally walk alone; I plan to walk today. It’s sunny, temperatures in the high thirties, but dry (and that damn wind has stopped for a day). Perfect to do two to three miles of hills.

Among those walking alone were people who seemed like me. Out on errands or walking for the satisfaction of it. Some, though, you question their circumstances. Anyway, it prompted me to begin thinking about all of that, about who we are, who (and what) we were, and who/what we become. So much is beyond our control as circumstances and/or tragedy strikes and/or our bodies and minds betray us. Who we become often becomes dependent on who we have around us.

All these thoughts snaked around to a 2005 Audioslave song, “Be Yourself”. The song is about trying to find salvation (is it inside you or elsewhere) and also what you hide and what you reveal, and what you are inside.

Someone tries to hide himself, down inside himself he prays
Someone swears his true love until the end of time, another runs away
Separate or united, healthy or insane

h/t to Genius.com

2020 is closing up shop. Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask, and get vaccinated. 2021 is about to begin. Bring it on.

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