Mask Up

Sharing a story. Yeah, anecdotal, about a bus driver, a coughing passenger, and a COVID-19 death. The bus driver is the death in this tale. He was fifty years old.

Wear masks, people. Wear masks. They can save you. I was out yesterday, had to make a supply run. While I was masked and gloved and practiced social distancing. We’d ordered online, and the purchases were delivered to the car’s trunk. While sitting there, I watched the scene. First, I was dismayed by how many were out, looking as if it’s business as usual. Social distancing? What’s that? Counted twenty-seven people as I sat there, awaiting my delivery. Counted five with masks. One with gloves and masks.

When a twentyish employee brought the order out, she wasn’t wearing a mask or gloves. Her arms were bare. I cringed with speculation about her condition.

Oregon — my state (yes, I bought it a number of years ago, so it’s my state — still have the warranty) has over eight hundred cases. Jackson County, where my experience took place, has almost thirty.

First case in Oregon was announced Feb. 29. My wife and I took measures after the possibility of the first case emerged in our area, March 14. Since then, more evidence of the value of masks has emerged as data has rolled in, showing how poorly people are responding to social distancing. My county got a C. I could see why when I was on my supply run yesterday.

Lot of folks were out. Not as heavy as a normal day, no. But less people would’ve been out if Oregon U. were playing a football game.

Yes, I know, some are essential. Thank you to all of them. To the rest, think about why you’re out. Sometimes, we have a need. But if you’re out, take precautions, for your sake, my sake, all of our sake.

The groceries are in the car’s trunk (boot, if you need a translation). There’s nothing perishable. They’ll stay in the trunk for three days. After that, I’ll fetch and clean them, and clean the car. We bought them for the long term, deciding to stock up now rather than waiting for when there are more cases in our area.

Changed clothes in the garage when I returned home, too. Yeah, given all the vectors possible for transmitting something to us (my wife and me), we’ll probably contract it, if we haven’t already. We’re trying to buy time for the world to come up with the resources and vaccines to combat this thing. We’re also trying to keep from spreading the thing.

Hope you’re all doing well at there. Take care. Wear masks. That is all.

The Greeting Card Dream

I’ve been dreaming, but most of it’s been the standard surviving storms, climbing mountains, and flying stuff. This dream last night was odd, so I thought it worth thinking more about, which translates to writing about it.

I was creating a greeting card. Nothing special about that. It’s something that I’ve done off and on on computers for decades. In this one, though, I was creating a greeting card with the outline of Oregon on the cover. It was a cut-out showing a photo of me with my wife.

Trying to figure out what should go inside, I realized I didn’t know the card’s expected recipient. Closing it to think, I looked at the card’s front and saw that I’d printed, “Wish you were here.” I realized the photo was of us when we were younger.

That made me laugh. Someone was calling me (off dream, if you will). I said, “Just a minute. I’m not done.”

Then, looking at the card, I thought, that could be the basis for a clever line of cards.

End dream.

I woke up smiling.

The Smoke

It’s a new habit. Reaching the corner where my street meets Siskiyou, I look left.

Although there’s a soft, steady down slope, it’s a straight shot into downtown Ashland. I know that two miles away is the Ashland Springs Hotel’s yellow building. I can’t see it today. I can see the first traffic light, at Walker. That’s just under a mile away. With today’s smoke, the prevailing visibility is about a mile away, as it has been for the last three days.

Fires ring our valley, sending smoke into it. Most of the fires started on July 15 when lightning strikes lit the dry brush and trees.

Although it’s the third year that I’ve been forced to do this, I’m not used to wearing a mask to walk around. We used to do it in the military as part of our war games, during simulated attacks. They were never fun. Neither is this.

Thoughts about the fire’s causes are inevitable, as are hopes and worries for the other people driven from their homes by the fires, and fears for the animals, and concern for the land. Thoughts about the firefighters out there fighting the fires on our behalf arise, along with thoughts of thanks.

Containment is the word of the month, followed closely by conflagration. When will the fires be contained? The closest, the Hendrix Fire, isn’t that large, just one thousand plus acres. Nine miles away, it’s thirty percent contained, but it’s not the fire delivering most of this smoke. That’s an accumulation from all the fires to the north and west.

What’s striking is how the smoke changes Ashland’s character. Outdoor events are canceled, curtailed, or moved indoor, if possible. There are fewer hikers and walkers, because part of the Pacific Coast Trail is also closed. Cyclists, usually so common, are rarely seen. With the diminished visibility, we can’t see the mountains. Ashland could be a plain town, or one on the seashore.

You’d never know it, with this smoke.


Be Careful Out There

If you like to walk, as I do, around your town, be careful. 

Caution and awareness are seared in my head. A friend in another town was walking his dog one morning several years ago. A vehicle killed him and his dog. The driver was never identified.

People get distracted, even drivers. Some don’t like stopping for people in crosswalks. I know it, because they’ve told me. They don’t care about the law, safety, or anything else. Some are too busy with other things. I’ve seen people eating as they drive, talking on their phones, or putting on make-up. Some looked at me as they passed and gave me a nod or a wave. So they see me, but kept going.

Crossing in front of the Jackson County Library in Ashland where Main Street becomes Siskiyou Avenue is the most hazardous in my experience. There’s a traffic light – the final one downtown as you’re going south – about fifty feet in front of it. Leaving downtown frees drivers from the multiple crosswalks, traffic lights, and twenty miles-per-hour speed limit. Now freed, they gun their engines and race up into the twenty-five MPH zone. They don’t to stop again, not when they’ve already had to stop so many times, especially for someone crossing the street in a crosswalk. Better to just miss the person and keep going, right?

Yes, it happens. It’s not fiction or exaggeration.

Perhaps the most disturbing incident this week was the Ashland Police Department‘s car that didn’t stop for me. It was about one in the afternoon. Traffic was light, and it was a beautiful summer day. I was in the southern crosswalk, crossing Main Street at First street. An APD vehicle was approaching. The blue and white SUV was several car lengths away from the northern crosswalk in the center of three lanes. He didn’t stop; he didn’t look my way. I could clearly see him, a white guy with a goatee, with a heavy, burly build, and a receding hairline and sunglasses – but he couldn’t see me (I guess).

When he didn’t yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk, neither did two other vehicles, both following him, but in two different lanes. Why should they? The APD car didn’t stop, so it must not be the law, or enforced, they probably assumed. Both of the drivers saw me, giving me a look as they passed, with one driver, a young woman in her twenties waving at me.

The APD car didn’t have his emergency lights on. He, and the others, stopped at the traffic light up the street at Second and Main.

So be careful. Lot of people are distracted. It happens. Many just don’t care or don’t want to stop for pedestrians. And many just don’t see you.

Or so they pretend.




Walking around, I’ve just recognized how much my little town of Ashland, population about twenty grand, offers visitors and residents. Of course, it’s all about experiences here. On center stage is the the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Green Show (free) but there is also the annual Ashland International Film Festival. Southern Oregon University generate learning activities. Your reading fixes can be attended through Bloomsbury, the Book Exchange, and the Book Wagon.

Want a marijuana high or need a medical high? We have you covered. Marijuana is legal in our state, county, and town. Several dispensaries are here to guide you through your choices. You can smoke, vape or eat to fill your need, although you can’t do it out in public, as signs will remind you. Locally produced chocolates are made at Branson’s to handle that munchie or go to Market of Choice and ogle their pastries, breads, pies, cakes, cookies, scones and cheeses, or ice creams, pastries and gelato at Mix, on the plaza.


Prefer an amber or red ale, pilsner, IPA, porter, stout or lager? Local breweries, led by Caldera Brewing and Standing Stone Brewing, are doing great. Fill your growler at Gil’s or Growler Guys. Gil’s is alongside Ruby’s, where flavorful wraps and sandwiches can be ordered. Ruby’s and Gil’s share owners so you can buy at one place and consume the other. This is pretty cool; Ruby’s has patio sitting available where you can dine in sunshine. Gil’s patio is covered and has fire pits.

Growler Guys also have fire pits. Having a beer as the wind blows your face, the rain falls a few inches away, and a fire warms you as you watch people and cars pass is an an elemental experience.


If beer and grass aren’t to your taste, you can enjoy wines from multiple local vineyards, like Weisinger, literally down the street from me. Or zip across the valley to Belle Fiori. Don’t want to drink and drive? Don’t worry, you can enjoy tastings at several locations and the local wines are offered in multiple restaurants.


Yeah, like to eat? As a progressive town, vegans and vegetarians are taken care of, but places like Smithfields will satisfy carnivores. Lark’s is wonderful for more unique dining choices. Although we lack decent Mediterranean and Greek fares IMO, the downtown area and plaza can see you through yearnings for American, Sushi, Chinese, Mexican, English, French, and Italian. Martolli’s sells sensational pizzas whole and by the slice. Louie’s on the plaza is one of our favorite places to eat. Brothers, Breadboard, Morning Glory and Waffle Barn will do you for breakfast and lunch, but you can have an awesome Chicago style sandwich at Sammich. But the Ashland Food Co-op creates some of the best sandwiches and wraps, which are sold in several local stores and cafes.


Naturally, there is a farmer and grower’s market, run by the RV Growers. Fresh produce, prepared foods like pies are available at the Saturday’s Grower’s Market. The Tuesday’s Grower’s Market has a larger location, and food trucks are present to serve you as you shop. Coffee shops all over the place, less now than there were a few years ago. Noble Coffee is one of several places roasting and grinding their own coffee beans. Zoey’s handles local demands for ice cream and milkshakes. If your burden is clothing shopping, the downtown is full of new and used clothing stores and boutiques. Every Saturday during the summer and fall, the Art


Or just wander through Lithia Park by the creek, following the trails, or sitting by the ponds, watching ducks or enjoying the deer’s presence as they meander through town and the park, nibbling at plants and grasses, looking at you as you look at them.



It’s amazing. Prefer skiing, hit Mt Ashland. Want to venture further away, we’re located just off Interstate 5, seventeen miles north of the California border, less than three hundred miles from San Francisco to the south and Portland to the north, and there are many amazing places between those two.

I’d write more about it all, but I’m hungry.

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