Good morning and welcome to Friday, February 12, 2021. Sunrise was at 7:11 AM and sunset is expected at 5:40 PM here in Ashland in southern Oregon, a few miles north of California. The temperature is a rainy 47 F. That rain makes it feel degrees colder.
I jumped into the Wayback Machine for today’s music, landing back in 1968. The song is “Hush”. Deep Purple covers it for us. Cat activity prompted the song. Papi was batting the blinds. This is his floofmaphore. In this case, he was saying, “It’s six AM, give me some canned cat food!” I was responding, “Hush, I’m trying to sleep.”
Hush stayed in the head as word, expanding into a concept under sleep’s veil until, whoa, pop, Rod Evans and Deep Purple were performing “Hush” in my head. Yes, the cat was fed, by the way. He is a ginger streak of persistence.
Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask, and get vaccinated. I read that ten percent of the US population has now been populated. President Biden’s administration has acquired more doses and is pushing for us to all be vaccinated within a few months. Alaska leads the nation in vaccines at fifteen plus percent. West Virginia, New Mexico, and Connecticut, all in the twelve percent range, are giving chase. Oregon, where I reside, is in the big ten percent pack. These are all just first shot numbers. All states drop to single digits when the question is asked, how many have had the second shot? Israel leads the world, where 27% have been fully vaccinated.
On some days, I want to get away by myself to scream at the world. Yesterday was such a day. Stepped into the shower and screamed in silence. Was somewhat cathartic.
I was driving along unlined streets in a residential neighborhood yesterday. Cars were parked along the side but there’s more than enough room for two cars to pass. Yet, so many drivers could not manage that. Driver age, sex, vehicle size…none of it seemed to explain it. People just couldn’t manage it. I thought it was because of the lack of lines. What tended to happen was that folks in one direction would stop so that folks proceeding in the other direction could drive straight down the middle. Young, old, male, female, all exhibited problems with it. “Just move over,” I’d tell them through the windshield. “Just use your side of the street. Honestly, it’s not that hard.” I should be more considerate of others but…on some days…it’s harder.
Contemplating a favorite shirt’s fate. Like everything else, there is a season, turn, turn, etc. Bought this shirt back in 1999. Have photographic evidence of that, for there I am, wearing it in a dated photo. Nothing special, button down collar, long-sleeved, cotton, faded blue stripes on egg shell white. It’s been with me in two states, four houses, five companies, and ten cats (sigh.) (The cats were three to five at a time…) Probably paid about twenty-five dollars for the shirt. Can’t recall that, although I do recall that I bought it on sale at Macy’s. Good jeans shirt. Have gotten some compliments while wearing it, but mostly I like its style and comfort. It’s been gently descending the hill for years, evidenced mostly through armpit stains. I’ve washed those out with a lemon juice and baking soda process a couple times. Now, though…the collar is frayed. It looks like it’s time for the shirt to finally move on. I guess, properly, I’m moving on from the shirt.
I feel like a prisoner sometimes. (Such an exaggeration, right?) I hate throwing things away, but it’s inculcated into my nature and our society. Besides the shirt, there’s now an electric kettle. Probably purchased ten years ago, the spring which helps the lid release and open no longer functions. Can it be fixed? Maybe…if I can find the right spring.
I contemplate the conundrum. Savings are acquired by mass production. Costs are kept down by underpaying people and going to the margin on design and materials. Paying more can gain you more…maybe. You really can’t be sure. But after a few years, when the device or clothing fails, what do you do with it? Where does it goes? The recycling gig seems to be filling up and failing. That’s always been the fallback: recycle or repurpose. I have containers full of used shirts now relegated to being rags out in the garage.
Dad was going to get a new stent this past week. His wife called. He’s eighty-eight. A COPD sufferer, he’d gone into the hospital on Monday to have his meds adjusted for his COPD. Suffering from edema resulting in a swollen left leg and foot, he was kept for observations and a stress test, and given diuretics. The stress test never happened; he was wheezing too much on that day, Wed. He was released on Thursday with plans to have the stress test done in the future. Meanwhile, he and his wife got the COVID-19 vaccination on Friday, which was paramount for them.
I spent an hour on the phone chatting with Dad. He was in a talkative mood and opened up about his youth, something unusual for him. Mom and Dad divorced when I was about ten. He was in the military and oft stationed overseas, so I lived with him for about seven years total, including my final three years of high school. It was just him and me for two of those years. He worked, and I went to school, cleaned, and cooked. We didn’t see much of one another.
Dad revealed that he met Mom in Sioux City, Iowa, when he was stationed there. (She’s from Turin, Iowa, and he’s from Pittsburgh, PA.) This was back in 1952. He was a radioman and she was a seventeen-year-old telephone switchboard operator. Too young to for her to marry in Iowa, they went to Luverne, Minnesota. There he discovered that while she was older enough (fifteen was the age for females there), he wasn’t old enough at twenty; he had to be twenty-one. Naturally, Dad managed to procure a letter with his father’s signature verifying that he was twenty-one. But no, wait. They told him that he had to have his mother’s signature. “Well, Mom is dead,” Dad replied. Then he called his father and said, “Can you tell these people that Mom passed?” That was done but he got grief for it from his parents for years.
An old song is stuck in my head this Saturday morning, the last Saturday in January, 2021. In other news, the sun rose at 7:26 AM and will set at 5:23 PM here in Ashland. All those things happen every day, but at different times.
They call songs stuck in your head ear worms. I call them a diversion. I typically get trapped in one specific section. I call it a groove loop, a reference back to the time when we listened to records on vinyl, which had grooves.
The stuck song is “Spanish Harlem”. The stuck version is by Aretha Franklin and came out in 1971. I was about fifteen. The eternal question of why this song is stuck in my head can’t be answered today. It arrived as I decided to eat a banana as my breakfast’s second course. First course was oatmeal with cranberries and peanut butter, sprinkled with gluten-free maple granola.
The COVID-19 situation continues to alarm many, including me. We experienced a solid week of double-digit new cases, and the rolling three day average was dropping. Across the country, cases were dropping. Only two states were reporting increases on Thursday. Yet, dire warnings about the variations were increasing. Recommendations to wear two masks, or wear only N95 masks were issued. Then, last night, boom, our county reported triple digits again. It’s wave after wave. Like the ocean, some waves are larger than others, and you need to be mindful of sneaker waves.
Time for coffee. Stay positive, test negative, WAM (wear a mask), and get vaccinated, when it comes your way. Here’s the music.
More first world blues…I’m just cryin’ in my coffee.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve ordered meals online from restaurants three timesin 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
7:31 AM and 5:15 PM mark the times the sun rises and sets in Ashland, Oregon, today, Sunday, January 22nd. It’s 30 degrees F out, and feels like it. There are some days when the temperature doesn’t feel as cold (or as warm) as it’s supposed to be. That whole index and wind chill thing, I suppose. Today, though, felt 30 when we were out.
Yes, we were ninja shopping again, hunting fresh produce for soups, smoothies, and salads. My wife always times these things because experts say we should be in and out at the speed of sound because that confuses COVID-19. When people zoom by, COVID-19 reacts, “What was that? Someone there? Hello?” Then it forgets what it was doing and walks off muttering to itself, “I know I heard something. I know something was there.” Yes, COVID-19 is becoming old news.
I found myself humming “Days Like This” by Van Morrison. The song came out in 1995 but sounds like it’s from the 1960s. That makes sense because Van based it on the 1961 song, “Mama Said”, which was a hit for the Shirelles. I don’t know if I knew that before and had forgotten but Wikipedia claims it’s the truth, so it must be.
It was a day like this. My wife likes to be at the store at the beginning of time or the vulnerable hours, whichever comes first. I dislike shopping at the vulnerable hours, objecting to that expression, which is shorthand for “hour set aside for vulnerable and elderly people to go shopping”. To avoid the term, I tell myself we’re going at victory hour — you know, vee for vulnerable, vee for victory. I don’t want to call it the vee hours because there was a television show (and maybe a movie) called “Vee” about alien visitors. I don’t want to think of myself as a vee, in case I turn out to be a visiting alien the next time that I see a doctor. (Doctor: “It appears that you’re an alien.” Me, looking around, “Whooo, meee?”) Don’t mock me; my body is constantly revealing new information. Like, as my hair has thinned, I’ve noticed what appears to be a treasure map on my scalp. It could also be where a dead body is buried, so I’m not going to check it out, just to be safe.
On a side note, I had a special moment today. I went into the bathroom to do some business and not one of my three cats showed up to supervise, even though they’re all in the house and awake (because I saw them watching me on the way to the bathroom). Although I was first surprised, then hurt (“Don’t they care any more?”), I was then delighted to be in on the can alone. I so enjoyed it, I lost track of what I was doing and ended up wondering if I should paint the baseboards, of it they’ll just come clean with Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. Upon exited the restroom, I discovered one of my cats waiting for me. Looking at me, he said, “I would have come in, but it stinks in there.” He wasn’t smiling. (He sort of looked like Abe Vigoda as Fish on “Barney Miller”.) Then I encountered the other two cats waiting in the hall. They said, “He’s right, it stinks in there. You should have that checked out.” Like they know what they’re talking about. They’re cats. They can’t even open a can or use a spoon.
For the record, we were in the store for nineteen minutes and spent $115.10. That works out to $6.06 a minute. 2021 is gonna be an expensive year. I’m glad that we weren’t in there an hour.
Is there a song called, “Years Like This?”
Be positive, test negative, wear a mask, and get vaccinated. Here’s the music. Listen to it while I go get some coffee. I need it.
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.
The more that I’m writing, the worst that I sleep. I dream more when I’m writing more, too. Yesterday produced a great writing session, a miserable night of sleep, and a flotilla of dreams.
I think that I sleep worst when I’m writing more because more of my brain is engaged in the writing process. The writing is consuming more bandwidth; shutting it down at day’s end is problematic. I keep writing while I’m doing other things, including trying to sleep.
The good news with the novel in progress is that the characters escaped Arsehold at last! How surprised me, but was totally in tone with the rest of the book. This is, of course, when writing is most fun and rewarding.
I always worry about saying too much about writing these days. I don’t want to jinx it when it’s going well, you know? Don’t want to scare off or anger the muses. I never elaborate to others about what I’m writing any more. It’s a novel; it’s meant to be read. I don’t want to explain it; I want people to read it. Sometimes it’s hard to stay true to this as excitement about the story, characters, and concept bubble up and make me happy. I guess I’m an eternal optimist that these stories and novels will come to be in people’s hands someday. Really, though, I write for me and have a good time doing it.
I’m subscribed to HBOMax and enjoying several shows. Nevertheless, I have a complaint about the service. Every time I select it, the first thing that comes up is, “Who is watching?” My name is right there on top. It’s the only name. Below it are options to add other profiles or to add a kid. Seriously? Why must I answer this every friggin’ time? Just accept, I am the one watching, and get on with it. If I want to add someone else, I can go into options or the account, you know. It shouldn’t, I suppose, but it irks me to no end.
COVID-19 vaccinations are increasing among friends and family. I know ten people who have been vaccinated. Three different states – Oregon, Texas, and Pennsylvania – are involved. All who were vaccinated except one were seventy plus years old. The one exception is in her forties and is in the healthcare industry, although she’s in research. Both vaccines have been employed among this small sampling. None have reported significant adverse reactions beyond a desire to nap and mild fevers. Let me know how your vaccination goes, please.
My wife and I are a year apart in age, which adds another spin to our vaxsit. I’m sixty-four and a half. I turn sixty-five in July. I’ll be eligible. But do we want to do it if we can’t do it at the same time? Part of our formula about whether and when is that I have hypertension and she has RA. I suspect that we’ll be included as part of a group that’s fifty years and older later this year, making our one year difference moot.
I mentioned oatmeal in another post, and the huntress commented on oatmeal. Her mother made it very thin. Soupy thin. I think of that as gruel. Yeah, I know it’s not the same. While that’s how my wife eats it, I’m not a fan of it. I make my oat meal so thick, it’s almost a soft cookie.
I grew up putting brown sugar in my oatmeal. Well, it started as white sugar but once I had it with brown sugar, the game was done. I then learned to add raisins and nuts. Now I put all manner of things in my oatmeal. I currently add cranberries and walnuts in my oatmeal, and granola as a topping. I like the contrasting crunchiness and flavor.
When I was first served oatmeal at my wife’s house while in my teens, they surprised me by adding butter and bacon on top. I’d never heard of such a thing! That surprised them, because that’s how they always ate it. Adding bacon and butter to my oatmeal wasn’t something that I adopted. My wife doesn’t add it to her oatmeal, either.
The world seems weirdly calmer with Joe Biden in office as President. Is this my imagination? Am I just reading less news? That doesn’t seem to be the case. Have news outlets shifted how they’ve reported? Perhaps. Or is it that there’s less bad news, or it’s being less reported, or not catching my eye… Maybe we’re just in an intermission in the bad news cycle.
Or maybe it’s some sense of numbing of normalization to bad news. Locally — specifically, in Jackson County, Oregon — COVID-19 positive cases have been declining. We haven’t had triple digits in several days. We’re trending down, but we trended down in November. Then we had a Christmas spike. Meanwhile, people aged 20-29 are the most positive cases here, but those aged fifty and older dominate the hospital beds, inline with what’s been seen elsewhere, and what’s generally expected.
Okay, got my coffee, actually my second cup. No mid-morning treat to go with it. No cookies, pastries, or doughnuts. Nevertheless, time to write like crazy, at least one more time.
“We’re still awaiting results. The past is changing, but the results are still coming in.”
“More importantly, we still exist.”
Murmurs of agreement went around the gathering; the general consensus before they’d begun this endeavor was the greatest proof that they’d succeeded in the past was that the party didn’t exist in the present.
A west coast reps was the Planning Committee Chair. Calling for order, she continued with her report. “We unleashed COVID-19 at the end of 2019. Sadly, but as predicted, this had the desired impact. Travel was reduced, leading to less armed conflicts as division between neo-fascists and the rest grew. Many refused to wear masks, as predicted.” She gave a nod toward another rep, who briefly beamed in acknowledgement. “The economy suffered as the working poor had their incomes cut by substantial amounts, leading to dissatisfaction that guaranteed Trump would lose the 2020 election. A vaccine was found, with limited impact, also as predicted. Likewise, Trump’s administration failed to plan ahead, as predicted.”
Rep. Bacon, Chair of Predictions, said, “They’re egregiously predictable, which makes for the situation of that time even more unfathomable. They’d consistently demonstrated no concern for human life or welfare, eschewing all principles in favor of increasing personal wealth among the wealthiest. It doesn’t make sense. It — “
“It is human nature,” said the Human Nature Chair. “Let’s not have another polemic.”
“Also predictable,” another rep called to a brief burst of chuckling.
The Planning Committee Chair resumed. “COVID-19 variants have been introduced as we speak. Given the failures to wear masks, plan for proper vaccination in advance, resistance to and distrust of vaccinations, and rallies and protests on behalf of the defeated president, a surge in cases and deaths will be seen in 2021.”
“But will that be enough?” another rep asked.
All eyes turned toward the Chair of Predictions. He pursed his lips. “We don’t know. It remains to be seen.” He put a hand up. “That’s not meant as a joke. If it doesn’t have the desired impact, well…we do have greater variants lined up.”
Thoughtful silence reigned for several seconds. “Is the asteroid still in play?” a rep asked.
The Chair of Predictions nodded. “Yes, but we’re holding onto it as our trump card.” He grimaced. “No joke intended, again.”
“So it won’t be deployed until…?”
“That’s right,” the Chair of Predictions said. “Twenty twenty-four.” He bleakly smiled. “If needed.”