Friday, May 29, 2020

Beware of What You Wish For - A Snippet

It's my fault.

I've been complaining that the news has to focus on Trump tweets because nothing new is happening.

Then a policeman knelt on George Floyd's neck.

This is not what I had in mind.  I was prepared to read about Disney opening theme parks. I wasn't prepared for policemen calmly watching as their colleague cut off a suspect's air supply. 

I thought I was anxious before, as masks began to deepen the separation between us.  But this.... this....

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Summer is Here

It was too hot to enjoy my walk from the mailbox.  The sun is at that screeching into your eyes like the high pitched whine of a cranky toddler point .  The heat is bouncing off the pavement and scorching my shins. 

I bet you don't think much about your shins in the sunshine, do you? 

The yellow season is over.  The sweet acacia and the mesquite and then the palo verde have each shed their blossoms, in their own time, on their own schedule, unaware that their presence creates a pandemic situation for the pool filters, which bit the dust because their services were overwhelmed with the task presented. 

Skimming the pool is the equivalent of social distancing and wearing a mask.  The system was overwhelmed when steps were not taken; management of the spread protected the patient.  That is a good thing, since the temperatures are predicted to be over 100 for the next few days, precluding any other outdoor activity after 9 o'clock in the morning.

Masks are sweatier as the temperatures go up,  but the trio of sixty-somethings sharing conversation and drinks outside the bagel store last week smiled at my gaiter as I smiled at their bandanas and custom designed masks as I stopped by to pick up something fresh and new. 

More than 6' away, less than 15 minutes, everyone masked.... the store was as safe a space as exists these days.  Was I tempted to sit and enjoy a different view with my bagel and lox?  It was early and the morning breezes were drawing me into the chair before I stopped and considered and drove home to my own backyard where the air was just as sweet, and I knew all the germs in the area.

Summer is here.  In my backyard.  On my driveway. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Saved By The Edgars

I finished Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak series and her Liam Campbell series and after 26 books in a row I was left bereft. 

I tried to fill the gap with mah jongg on-line, and the mental nimbleness required kept me distracted and stimulated.  But there are so many hours in a day when you're sheltering in place, so many, many hours.  And Scarlet has a life to lead and isn't always available to amuse me. 

A  book is a friend you can count on, there when you need it, as long as the devices are powered up.

It's not that I needed to rely on the Kindle app, and Amazon Prime's monthly free downloads, and the vast collections available to me on-line from all sorts of libraries all over America.  I have a library filled with the best of what we've collected over our lifetimes - actual, physical, bound books.

But I've been staring at those shelves since March.  I've been doing Pilates in that room since March, often distracted by the titles.  But none of them jumped out at me.... although Plutarch and Thucydides almost had their moments, as did Jeeves and Lucia. After weeks of playing Tiles on the New York Times web edition, of cleaning grout, of spending hours on my cook top which has never glowed so bright, I realized that nothing would replace reading.

The library is open for curbside deliveries, but I'm not thrilled about bringing something new into my house unless I can sanitize it to within an inch of its life.  I've been consistent about staying safe and I'm not taking any unnecessary chances... even though the science suggests that the books will be okay. 

I'm going to wait, once again, for the first adopters to react to the situation.  Until then, I'm putting new ebook releases on hold.  Eventually, which is how I usually feel when I'm 184th in line for 5 copies, has taken on a new meaning of late.  Time is elastic, fungible, a commodity with some utility in a vague breakfast-or-dinner sense but not much beyond that.  Still, I had nothing to excite me.

I moaned about this when TBG and I had a BYOE (except we forgot our chairs but theirs had been out in the sun, untouched for two days, Not-Kathy, who's a nurse, decided that were okay) on Saturday night.   Dr. K said that he'd been reading the Edgar Award winners via Kindle.  Mysteries are one of his genres, too.  He's also a stickler for excellent writing, a voracious reader, and a very smart person. I took his advice.

I came home and searched and found and bookmarked the lists.  Novels and short stories and first timers and lifetime achievements and more have been honored in some form or another since 1954. Not all but a lot of the titles are available digitally, and there are enough of them on the libraries' websites to keep me occupied for a very long time.

Is it any wonder that I've been friends with him
for almost 50 years? 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

I Earned a Certificate

Big Cuter and I have finished the Coursera Covid-19 Contact Tracing on-line training.  We earned our certificates.

The course consisted of modules covering transmission and incubation and isolation, giving us the tools to determine how long someone has been/will be infectious, how long someone should quarantine/isolate, and how to gather the information while respecting privacy/confidentiality.  

There was some jargon (the difference between a sign and a symptom) but mostly there were facts.  Big Cuter's suggestion to speed up the teacher's voice made it less time consuming, and, after a while, I fast forwarded so that I could read the verbiage and move on the practice test.  

I learned a lot.  I passed the test with a score of 94% (the arcane distinction between rephrasing and reflecting caught me).  I filled out the form to register for my certificate.

And then I read this:

By checking this box, I acknowledge that I provided my legal name, I am 13 years of age or older, and that I am not from Iran, Sudan, Crimea, or Cuba.
It was a weird ending to an otherwise interesting and useful experience.  Now, to see if someone wants to hire me to do the work.  Contact tracing is how the Ebola epidemic was quelled. I'll be proud to help out here at home.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day

The first iteration of this post appeared in 2009.  

I used to march in the Memorial Day parade. I was dressed in my Brownie uniform, and then in my Girl Scout uniform - replete with those embarrassing anklets. I wore them because the troop leader said we couldn't march without them, they were part of our official uniform.  Marching was too cool to pass up.  I wore them and bore the scorn.

All the school bands marched too, and the moms on Benjamin Road provided the materials and the labor to make the capes the high school kids wore. There must have been a military presence there, but I didn't pay enough attention to notice. I was marching and I knew that, all over America, other kids were being Americans and marching, too.

I belonged.

In Marin, the Memorial Day parade was always good for a controversy or two. Or three. Should the anti-war protesters walk alphabetically in the main march, or have their own march, or walk 50 yards behind the official march? I especially liked this discussion: should weaponry be allowed?

That was fairly disingenuous even for Marin.

There were bands at this parade, too, and with Bobby Weir as the Grand Marshal you know the music was worth hearing, especially at the picnic in the park afterwards. Not exactly your typical VFW-sponsored event, but no one was complaining. It was Memorial Day; there had to be a parade and a picnic and a coming together as Americans.

I've got the flag G'ma bought us for a housewarming present, which replaced the one Dadooooo got us in Chicago.  I'll wear the tie-dyed tank top the Cuters and I made early one July.  I'll remember the fallen and recommit to doing everything I can to make this country worthy of their sacrifice.

We have a long way to go, but I have confidence in the future.
"We Are The Ones We've Been Waiting For"

Friday, May 22, 2020

Happy Birthday, Little Cuter

Written in 2012, updated as time has passed
There's a lot to love about my little girl.  Just ask her husband; he'll be glad to share.  So will her in-laws..... and her brother.... and her co-workers....and I. Watch her childrens' faces when she enters the room and you'll see what I mean.

In first grade she came home flummoxed and out of sorts.  The girls in her class had made up a list to take the guess work out of who would get to sit next to Little Cuter at lunch.  Another child might have been flattered; my girl was annoyed.  Why?  What made them think that she was special? She hadn't done anything to merit such attention. And anyway, didn't she have a say in the matter?

I smiled, remembering TBG's oft repeated advice on how to be cool - just act as if you don't care. Her trick was that she really didn't care.  She didn't keep score.  She was friends with everyone.

Nothing had changed by middle school.  "Mom, why do the kids fight with one another?  If you're not mad at anyone you can sit anywhere you like at lunch.  Why don't they get it?"  It was a good question then and it's a good question now. She still gets along with everyone; it's just easier that way.

A high school carpool conversation ended with "He's so awful even Little Cuter doesn't like him."  Catching up with her later in the day, laughing as I shared the story, I was stopped by her expression.  She was perturbed.  Who did they mean?  She was trying to think of someone she didn't like.

She's a truth teller, in the gentlest way imaginable.  "Mom, I love you, but......" has started many a Mom Improvement Project.  We are honest with one another.  I, brutally.  She, kindly.

Thirty-five years ago you arrived on the scene, somewhat reluctantly if the truth be told.  Today, there's not a reluctant bone in your body.  You embrace the world and its challenges with open arms and a welcoming smile, and the world is a better place because you are in it.

Happy Happy Birthday!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Kindergarten Graduation

It's usually a 1 hour assembly, with group singing and dancing.
This afternoon, it was a 1 hour car parade, with signs
and balloons and horns and tutus. 
Not all the families had cars, so parts of the parade were on foot. 
The joy was palpable. 
It was bittersweet to see the teachers and staff from a distance.
The kids were either delighted or perturbed.

It was a valiant attempt to end the year on a happy note.
I left when Lilly ran up and hugged her teacher
who was standing a respectful more-than-6'-distance from me on my decorated stool.

I have promised my children to be extra vigilant.
I took my masked self back to my car, across the parking lot, and blew my paper horn in tribute to those who are being lauded by every other commercial, meme, and post - teachers.
I hope they stay safe.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Sending a Signal

Demanding your rights without accepting responsibilities is not freedom.... it's adolescence.

I'm considering making a batch of t-shirts with that inscribed above a stronger admonition:
Wear a Damn Mask.\

I had to drop two boxes off inside the post office today.  Sister tells tales of  New Jersey's post offices filled with masked marauders; that was certainly not the scene at the Oro Valley post office today.  The sign on the door was clear - PLEASE maintain your distance.   PLEASE Ten (10) patrons inside at one time.

Signage is wonderful.  But it only goes so far.  The paper has no power of enforcement, and there was no one around to see to it that the patrons adhered to the  PLEASEs.  Only one other patron was wearing a mask, and she was using a walker and looked like a poster child for Vulnerable Individual.  She and I were surrounded by 15 or so unmasked patrons standing maybe 3 feet from one another in a line that didn't seem to be moving at all.

I took my disinfectant wipe and used it to push the buttons on the self-service machine and to pull the door handle as I went out to affix the postage and then went back in with my wipe to push the boxes through the giant slot.  All told, I don't think I was in there more than 2 or 3 minutes.

I left the guinea pigs to wallow in their petrie dish and went to the bread store, where, once again, social distancing and protective equipment were fantasies from the life that I, alone, seemed to be living.  Two families, each a dad and two latency age kids, were in the store.  The standing area of the store is about as big as my kitchen.  If you consider the counters on two sides and the display table in the middle, 6 people, with or without masks, is a social distancing nightmare.  And, of course, only I was wearing a mask.

I waited for the first family to leave before I went in.  I said No, thank you to the dad who thought that chivalry demanded that he hold the door for an old lady.  I wanted no part of brushing past him to pick up my ciabbata.  Wear a damn mask!

Having called ahead to place my order, I left the second family to their dithering (don't they know they are not supposed to browse?) and traded my dollars for the pre-sliced-and-waiting loaf the masked saleskid passed over the counter.  I was in there for 30 seconds at the most.

I don't understand the reluctance to wear a mask.  It's good hygiene.  It's thoughtful.  It's respectful. And, as a friend noted, it sends a signal that I am ready to reopen the world, the world which is very different now, the world which will require us to change some behaviors if we are to move forward together.  I'm wearing a mask and that says that it's time to recognize the necessities and to arm ourselves accordingly.

I'm wearing a mask.  I'm sending a signal.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Summer Camp - A Snippet

I learned to swim at day camp.

I learned about homesickness at sleep away camp.

Most of the silly songs my children learned were ones I discovered at summer camps.  Tying a lanyard (in both barrel and box stitch) and learning to eat soupy oatmeal, listening to Taps and sitting around a campfire - I can conjure those memories without any effort at all.

And so, when Little Cuter announced the creation of Mom Camp, I opened the floodgates and let it all back in.  I was 6 and I was 10 and I was 16 and I was doing fun stuff in the summertime.

It's been a wonderful day.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Losing My Shit

I bumped my left elbow on the kitchen table yesterday.  It hurts, even with Arnica.  I lean on that elbow when I get out of bed, a fact I discovered this morning.  As TBG said at the end of this trauma, Kiddo, you shouldn't have gotten out of bed this morning.

Maybe he was right.  Maybe my balloon was just ready to pop. 

I went out to run an errand, the same errand I've run every week since March 12th.  I've always been alone on the road, catching up to a car or two at a traffic light or passing one at a stop sign. 

But Arizona is opening up, and there were a lot of cars vying for space on the way there, and more on the way back.  It upset me.  Where were they going?  Why were they going? 

Half the people in the two stops I made were masked, the others were blithely spreading their smiling germs hither and yon.  Only one person looked askance at my covered face, but, in retrospect, his smile might not have been as snarky as I interpreted it to be.  I was on a roll, and things were about to go from bad to worse.

I couldn't get what I'd been promised, and the worker, though behind a plexiglass shield from me, wore his mask around his chin, standing too close to a co-worker on either side.  I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

I got home and began to cry.

I sobbed, moaned, wailed, rocked back and forth for the better part of an hour.  TBG kept trying, but there wasn't really anything anyone could do.  It just had to come out.  And come out, it did. 

Little Cuter talked me off the ledge, giving me sound, Oprah-based advice about redefining the moment, while nodding in total agreement as I listed the things that were causing me to spiral down the rabbit hole.  She'd been there, felt that, agreed with every part of it, understood it all and was just as peeved as I was about the whole thing, even if, right then and there, she didn't need to melt down quite as totally as I did.

I went for a hard swim, got my adrenaline pumping and my heart racing - TBG's prescription for this situation is to become so exhausted you can't think of anything else.  That works for him, and the exercise always does me good, but my girl's shoulder to cry on, even from afar, worked wonders for me this morning.

And now, having written it down, it's over.  Thanks for listening, denizens.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Do I Miss Grocery Shopping?

I've been a big fan of Safeway's drive up and go service.  It feels safe and responsible and, after the first few weeks, it has been a timely answer to feeding ourselves.  I used to have to plan 7 days in advance to get an order, then 4 days, and now I can find a slot on the same day.
Little Cuter sent me the fixings for strawberry shortcake alongshelt with flowers and blueberries and ciabatta for Mother's Day via Whole Foods.  The supplies arrived an hour after she ordered them.

And now I'm wondering about the utility of my entering the stores at all, even when sheltering in place is not required.  I'm not impulse buying that interesting something or other.  I'm not buying a 4th bottle of ketchup because I can't remember if I remembered to resupply the pantry the last time I shopped.  (G'ma used a list; I never remember to bring mine from home.)

I do miss selecting my own produce; I know if I want green bananas because I still have 2 ripening at home.  Ordering steak is also problematic; you purchase by the pound, not by the serving.  That leaves me with one very thick piece of meat that is as problematic to divide in to two thinner slices as it is to bbq in all its stubby glory. 

Sometimes the substitutions make no sense. This:

is not the same as Haagen Dazs Vanilla.

But, on the whole, the experience is an efficient use of my time.  I can place an order between commercials, with TBG by my side to remind me about the Wheat Thins and the Cheerios.  I drive further than I would normally, since the nearest pick up store is 9 miles away, rather than around the corner and down the block, but I'm still spending less time collecting the goodies.  Someone else is walking up and down the aisles while I am at home, doing other things.

Doing other things..... doesn't that sound like fun?  I usually stopped into the store on my way home from doing those other things.

Looking into the

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Feeling Marginally Better

I Listened to the Supreme Court.  My faith in America was restored.  The arguments were reasoned, thoughtful, and Justice Thomas actually spoke.

There's no answer yet, so I can smile without adding disappointment to the equation.

There's also Judge Emmett Sullivan, who's opening up the criminal case to amicus briefs as he wonders if Flynn perjured himself.  In Judge Sullivan's courtroom, no less.

There's still no safe way for me to restart my life, and no one I talk to thinks there is, either.  I don't relish the thought of months without hugging Giblet.  Thanks to FaceTime, at 22 months,  he knows who we are, and no doubt thinks that Grampa and I are every bit as real as Elmo.  We all come into his life via screens.

Don't I wish I could reply to FlapJilly's plaintive I wish you could come over and visit with I'm buying a ticket right now?  I've been sad about that particular matter ever since she said it.... and that was early on, when I still harbored notions of a family reunion for her mid-summer birthday.

But, for the moment, I'm going to concentrate on two pieces of American jurisprudence which, for a while, didn't disappoint me.
Image may contain: 2 people, people standing

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Following His Advice

POTUS was impressed with the destructive effects of ultraviolet light on the virus.

So, I washed the veggies and put them outside on the pool mat, to soak up some rays.
It made me feel a lot better.  It made a nice picture.  And, since the science he referenced spoke of the virus on surfaces, I felt justified in exposing my newly delivered treats to some UV... until it all just seemed a little bit silly.... and everything was dry... so we went inside.
Quarantine.... when washing produce produces a post.  Be grateful.  There's another post on soap headed your way.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

I Don't Want To Write This.....

....and  I didn't want to un-friend him, but it finally became untenable to have him in my space. 

We disagreed on everything political and social, but he loved his wife and she loved him, and he was very kind to me whenever we met, and whenever we met it was fraught with so many other pieces that I was only looking for the comfort and solace and not staring too hard at what was inside.

And I really want to believe that there is a good person in there, the person I thought I saw when I looked at him, when he hugged me. I dismissed other people's avoidance of him; I didn't see it and they were over-reacting and was that really enough to run the other way.

Well, I'm apologizing to them all, right here and right now.  I guess it just hadn't hit my own particular button. 

That all changed last week.  It's taken me his long to get to the keyboard and type; I was running from the intensity of the feelings.  Fury.  Amazement.  Surprise.  Shock. Disappointment (the biggest of the feelings and the one that keeps coming back to smack me in the I'm-going-to-cry space) (pause for a tissue run).

It's not that we were best friends.  Not at all.  We interacted on social media, we ran into one another at events.  I won't miss him in my everyday life...... except that I will. 

I've tried to keep the lines of communication open to input from The Other Side.  I cannot abide Fox News (except Chris Wallace).  I didn't talk politics with the ladies at mah jongg whose views were on the other side, because I loved the game and didn't want to soil it with their idiocy.  But knowing how They think, what they are hearing, what they are ignoring has seemed worth the Oh, dear, REALLY!?!

Up until last week, that is. 

The fact that I knew nothing about Newsmax is a measure of the fracturing of our society.  Searching the interwebs told me that they get more views than the Huffington Post. It's a right-wing or Conservative or conservative or Republican multi-platform news outlet, and it's what pushed me over the edge.

We were in a mini-controversy about wearing masks.  He posted an article defending his position, but I don't know what it said.  I was distracted by the headline just above his article: Famous Jew Says

The rest was cut off by an ad.  But I'd seen enough.

Now, if you can't or don't want to click through to Facebook for that link, you'll be hard pressed to find any "print" coverage of this on the interwebs.  This is the link to the article Mr. Google gave me; it's a dead end, with nothing to show for itself.  It's lost in the ether.

But the Famous Jew is David Horowitz, about whom I know nothing except that he is the author of Dark Agenda: The War To Destroy Christian America.   His thesis in the Newsmax piece (that lockdown orders prohibiting church attendance are ......) is his opinion and he's entitled to it and I can ignore it if I want. 

It's his billing that offends me.

Famous Jew.

It rang all my bells.  It's a trope that sends chills up and down my spine.  That my former friend wasn't appalled showed me a hole in his experience that, by his 70th year or se he should have been able to fill in.

He blew me off when I pointed this out, calling me out for automatically discounting anything that's not on CNN. 

But CNN isn't posting Famous Jew headlines.  And my former friend is not posting anything anywhere that I am likely to see it ever again. 

I'm sure he doesn't get it.  At this point, I have no further interest in trying to explain it to him.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Doing What I Can

I paid attention to the PSA running between Ken Burns' Baseball which TBG is watching on MLB Network rather than PBS.  Extolling the virtues - and there are many - of the front line workers keeping our country humming while the rest of us shelter in place, the ad featured nurses and firefighters and EMT's and trash collectors.

I have thanked the medical professionals I know.  I've sent stay-safe-vibes to the firefighters in my life.  But the trash collectors have been ignored.

I am abashed.  Big Cuter was an early rising toddler; 5am and he was ready and raring to go. He would lead me around our city block, climbing on the security railings guarding the basement windows, making faces back at the gargoyles on the buildings' surrounds, and jumping up and down, waving his arms and screeching when the babage tuck came into view.  

His joy was contagious.  Commuters and dog walkers and the babage tuck men themselves shared the smiles.  It made being out and about before breakfast a lot more palatable.  So, when the PSA reminded me that my trash was, in fact, being picked up, and that I should be grateful for that fact, and that I should express my gratitude for that fact, I brought the roll of unused newsprint (they gave away the unusable ends to anyone who wanted it) I took from the Star's offices before the printing process moved to Phoenix, and wrote a note:
It's not flying the flag, but the message is the same.
I'm proud to live in a place where the plague may rage, but the trash is collected.
Way to go!

Friday, May 8, 2020

Happy Birthday, Big Cuter

(I liked it when I first wrote it, and I like it this year, too.)

You've been a cheetah and a ninja.

You've been Robin Hood and Zorro.

You've worn capes and baseball caps and a fools cap.

For a while, we wore the same size clothes; I'm still happy with your hand-me-downs.

You introduced me to Ender's Game and George RRRRRRRR Martin and the Old Man's War series.

You are always willing to Be A Tall Person, to Do The Heavy Lifting, to explain.

How is it possible that you have grown to be a man while I, most certainly, haven't changed a bit?

 O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! 

Happy Birthday, my Mothers Day bundle of joy.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Wearing a Mask - My Solution

No, it's not about whether to wear one.  That is a given.  It's how to wear one that's the issue.

First of all, wearing this most attractive one Mei-Mei made for me makes me smile.... which you can't see because my mouth is covered.
But the elastic goes behind my ears.... and so do my h earing aids.... and the two are, unfortunately, incompatible.  This would not be a deal breaker, since I usually leave my hearing aids at home when I venture out into the world so that I don't have to disinfect them when I return to my burrow.  But without them, and with everyone I encounter also wearing a mask, I can barely figure out what anyone is telling me.

Today, Big Cuter was describing the pull-on tube mask he's expecting in the mail.  Like a neck warmer on the ski slopes, he'll pull it up over his nose and mouth because the environment is not conducive to anything else.  It seemed like a sensible solution so I went to Mr. Google to see what there was to see.  And what I saw made me smile. 

Apparently, bandanas are appropriate face gear.  There are websites describing folding a triangle and putting the center of the long side on top of your nose and tying a square knot (with instructions there, too) behind your head.  I knew how to do that, which fact gave me hope.  I'd mastered step one; having tied my Mt. Tam hiking map scarf (the perfect map... all the trails clear enough to hike with, on an extra large, extra soft, extra quick drying square of cloth) over my face the last time I interacted with humans other than TBG.

And then Mr. Google mentioned oblong scarf tying.  

I love my extra long, extra soft, extra spiffy scarves; they are the perfect accessory for Tucson and I have lots of them.  Mr. Google tells me that if I wrap several layers and cover tightly and carefully, I can decorate my face with my favorite add-ons.  

Not that I am planning to go anyplace anytime soon.  My children forbid it and I am as obedient as they were when they were asked to stay home for their own safety.  

Really.  We're in; there's no excuse for us to be intersecting with the world.  

And, now that I've reassured my most treasured readers, let me end where I started:

 There is absolutely no excuse for anyone to be bare-face naked.  

That sounds like something I'd have told them.  I'm glad I haven't lost my touch.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

I Just Want To Know

I'd like to know that there is a plan. 

Big Cuter tells me that the Bay Area is reopening in phases, permitting pets in parks and people with masks to enjoy the great outdoors, gently expanding the definition of safety while watching the numbers.

Ah, the numbers. 

Without the requisite decrease in cases (whatever that might really mean), without sufficient testing capacity, without anything resembling a sense that we have a handle on the contagion,  Arizona is reopening beauty parlors and restaurants and retail establishments over the next two weeks. 

In Indiana, Little Cuter's gigantic indoor mall reopened last weekend; the line was around the parking lots before the doors opened.

There's a Darwinian certainty to it all that seemed fairly comical until I listed to Our Commander In Chief.  I say Our because, in case you missed it, you've been enlisted... entrapped... impressed... drafted... drug-in-without-your-say-so. 

Private Bone Spurs says we are all warriors in this war to reopen our economy, because we have to reopen the economy, and sure, warriors die, but we're all in this together to get this economy going because that's what America does.

The estimates are 3,000 bodies a day to get this economy going and reelect Our President.

So I say: Fine.  Go.  Shop.  Dine. Spend time with many others, indoors, using plates and cutlery washed by someone who cannot afford to stay home, handling merchandise while remembering to keep your hands away from your face. 

As for me and mine, we're staying put, recognizing that we are lucky to be able to do so and glad to be part of the solution.  We're not eliminating the virus, we are managing the load on our medical system until a treatment or a vaccine is available. 

My grandchildren jump from the couch to the ottoman to the ground and leap back again as Little Cuter reminds them: Be Careful! No Hospitals!  

Giblet, with 22 months of life experience, shies away from the containers under the kitchen sink with an overly dramatic but absolutely appropriate OH NO!!!!

If they can understand it and you can't, I have no pity.

I am dodging the draft.  I'm staying home.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

One Of Those Days

I should have planned for it.   It was obviously coming.  I picked up the nightshirt that was on its way to the hamper and threw it over my head last night.  I brushed my teeth, splashed water on my face, and was asleep pretty much as soon as my head hit the pillow. 

I slept into the 9's.

I was hungry, but had no interest in making myself breakfast.  TBG suggested pancakes, and, since Kodiak pancake mix is irresistible, I was up and at the kitchen in a flash.  I heated and stirred and poured and turned and buttered and ate and cleaned and then I was back on the couch. 

I had nothing in my hands.  The tv wasn't on (TBG was in the bedroom).  I wasn't even facing outside.  It didn't matter.  I had no energy, no enthusiasm, no oomph.

Yes, I was oomph-less.

I bailed on Pilates On-Line.  I opened a container of yogurt for lunch, made sure the bills were paid, and went back to the couch. 

My Kindle book is okay, but eminently put-down-able.  FaceTiming with the grandkids and Little Cuter amused me for an hour or so, rousing me from my stupor to come to the table and play some mah jongg with Scarlet. 

And then the iPad died.  The game is not much fun when she's not sighing on FaceTime on the screen to my left, so we signed off until tomorrow.

And now, I'm back on the couch.  Fortunately, it feels psychologically appropriate to watch tv, and we have 7 more episodes of Billions to crush.  I'm off to wake TBG from his post-swim nap, making the most out of not very much of anything day.

Then, again, all of mine are safe and healthy.  It's a pretty good day, at that.

Monday, May 4, 2020


I've been paying attention. Really, I have. 

I've been skeptical of the numbers, since we were not and are not doing enough testing (even though the President says we have plenty of tests) we have no idea if the rate of infection has slowed, or if there has been a decline in the numbers for 14 straight days.

In fact, there are now places where the infection rate is skyrocketing.  Are we getting sicker, or, as more tests become available and we test more people, are we finding that the virus is lurking even if symptoms aren't showing up?  Was this always the case?  We'll never know.  That window has closed.

And now, states are opening up.  Gov. Kemp even took it on the chin from his President, but the order is still in place.  Neighboring counties have opened/kept closed their beaches; the lines of demarcation are stark.  Local officials are struggling with keeping the people they know, the ones they see everyday, wearing masks and staying distant as higher ups in their states refuse to let them make stricter rules. 

Our own Governor Ducey surprised most of us by actually appearing gubernatorial and thoughtful and relying on science as he relaxed some restrictions toward the end of this week.  Among those businesses opening up is my Pilates studio.  No group classes at first; just private sessions.  Coretets, classes of 4 or 5 on the reformers and cadillacs and pedi poles, will resume a few weeks later.

Now, I love my studio.  I love the teachers and the members and the owner and the staff.  I love the setting and the quality of the instruction and the attention to detail.  I love that we clean our equipment after we use it.  Mostly, I love the hands on experience, using the machines with an instructor correcting the little mistakes by placing her fingers where movement ought to occur.

I don't know how to do that from 6' away. 

I don't know how to breathe deeply, filling my lungs front, sides, and back, with a mask covering my face.  The work itself is sweat inducing; it doesn't need a mask to add to the situation.

I don't know how many sessions will be held at the same time, and neither did the scheduler who called to enroll me.  Passing others who are breathing heavily, dripping sweat, using machines that they'll clean before moving on..... it just feels like a breeding ground for unhealthy living.

The instructors are young.  Some are young parents, with babies at home.  The clientele is a mixture of ages and ethnicities and political sensibilities, but many are old.... older than I am.... recovering from this that and the other thing..... at risk. 

I've been SIP for 7 weeks.... 19 days in March, 30 days of April, and May isn't looking much more sociable to me.  Pima County's numbers are very low (again, see rant above about lack of testing) and our hospitals are not overwhelmed.  Elective surgeries are beginning to be rescheduled.  I'm glad that my friend can have her (we hope) pain relieving procedure and go on to resume her life without crying at every step.  That seems like a useful reopening activity.

But going to the studio and working on equipment that was sprayed and wiped but not in every corner, underneath, in the cracks, sanitized to within an inch of its life the way I take care of everything that comes into my house.... well, that makes me anxious.

Will there be a requirement that every client wear a mask?  I didn't ask.  I was too stressed about the whole conversation to think calmly.  As the scheduler was happily describing all the options at my disposal, she assumed that I was processing the information. 

I was not. 

It was too early for me to make that decision.  I didn't have enough facts.  I was feeling pressed, pushed to agree to something that felt wrong.  She did nothing untoward; the business was opening and she was helping it to prepare. 

What I was thinking about had nothing to do with private vs Coretet, with Tuesday vs Wednesday, with weekly vs twice weekly.  I was wondering if temperatures were to be taken at the door.  I was wondering about night time decontamination procedures.  I was wondering if I could trust the hundreds of people who would be using that same space.

Interrupting her presentation, I declined her kind offer. 

I have spent the following days mulling my decision.  The owner's a good friend, a well-educated, thoughtful, smart, kind, right-minded person.  The fact that she thinks it is safe to reopen sits heavily on the Do It side of the scale.

That's the only thing there.

The rest of me is not willing to risk inhaling a pre-symptomatic-but-highly-contagious-exhalation.  The breath propels our movements in Fletcher Pilates.  It's essential.  I don't know how I'd do the work if I were afraid to breathe.

And yet, I'm feeling foolish.  I'm having a hard time shaking the feeling that I'm being silly, that I'm overreacting, that if the studio thinks it's safe then I ought to pull up my big girl panties and dive right in. 

Just typing that ..... NO.

I'm reminded of the Asch conformity experiments, where subjects were found agreeing with the majority, even when a different reality was staring them in the face, empirically proving that the majority was wrong.  I'm falling off the deep edge, denizens, not trusting my instincts, being swayed by others.

Can I stay isolated until there's a vaccine?  Probably not.  I don't want to miss years of hugging my grandchildren.  On the other hand, I do want to be around to hug them at all, whenever that might be.  Pilates in the studio isn't essential in the way figuring out 1st grade for FlapJilly is essential.  I'm going to sit back and let others be guinea pigs, heeding the pleas of doctor friends begging, on Instagram and FaceBook and in phone calls - Stay Home For Me.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Grandma's Garden - A Study in Neglect

The playground was empty at noon today, the last day of April, a month that vanished without a trace.
It made me sad.  
I stood outside the silent garden, and smiled at the flowers towering over the wall. 
Then, I went inside.
This is what the wildflower bed looked like on March 4th, the last time I was at school.
This is what I came back to today. 
A week before that, on February 25th, the scallion and aloe vera bed looked like this.  The big leaves are borage, just starting to emerge.  
There's a real reason to thin your seedlings, as today's version aptly demonstrates:
Overgrown is too kind a descriptor.  
It's a soft, blue tufted hedge surrounded by scallions as thick as my ring finger.

I wanted to give the scholars plants-in-Solo-cups along with their end of year packets.
I'm not sure what can be rescued. I know that the kids would have a great time plucking their treasures themselves, wrestling with the prickly leaves in search of just exactly what they want to take home for the summer.  

I'm holding on to that thought, and keeping it just a thought.  This pandemic is laying waste to a lot of plans; I suppose I shouldn't whine that it's happening to me, too.