Archive | June 2020

Notes from a bell tent

A Tent in the Rockies, about 1916 by John Singer Sargent - Paper ...

A Tent in the Rockies, c. 1916. John Singer Sargent. At the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

The painting above is one of my all time favs. Some little girls grew up wanting to be princesses covered in silks and jewels, and maybe marrying a sheikh who lived in a fancy tent. Me? I grew up wanting to  go off into the Rockies with friends to live in a tent (in the summers, I was a romantic, not an idiot) and paint like Sargent used to do. And with that in mind, I’ll start with last Friday.

bell glamping tents

This is not a Sibley tent. It’s a bell tent (because it has sides). Some people call it a “Sibley bell tent,” which is even more confusing.

In the midst of making lunch last Friday, post pedicure, my mother called. Minka had killed again. Another young bunny. She wanted to know what to do, so I told her. Ziplock (body) bags, of the appropriate size were in the drawer near the oven for just such occasions.

Once bagged, the bodybag needed to go into a Hefty bag filled with Gran’s used Depends. California is hot. The trash wouldn’t be picked up till Tuesday. It’s important to cover the smell of dead bunny so as not to draw coyotes to the yard.

Although if a coyote hopped into the yard and took Minka out, I’d be inclined to think “karma.” Mutti then mentioned finding parts of a rat in two different bird baths, and what did one do about that? So I told her.

You’d think that would put me off lunch, but no.

10 Vegetarian Lunches You'll Never Get Tired of Eating | Cooking Light

Does not look like bunny entrails. Slightly does look like rat gizzard. I’m eating it anyway.

There was then a pause in conversation, after which she, apropos of nothing, apologized. She said she didn’t realise that Gran was so much work. Apology accepted, I replied. Then she asked why I never told her. I wasn’t sure how to answer that. I always told her. She just never believed me.

Maybe she never wanted to believe me. I can see that. Who wants to think about a loved one’s slow decline and death? It’s normal. It happens to everyone privileged to grow old. I don’t dwell on it. I know few people that do. But, to be fair, she has her viewpoint, coloring things as well.

From things she’s said in the past, when I’d mentioned the challenges I faced, she’d chalked my statements up “whinge.” She thinks the fact I don’t have children means that I’ve never understood the hard work of caring. Uh, yeah, sure.

Older people are not all as unhinged as the person above (lives in Gran’s county, and not in an institution). But they’re not easy. Mutti thought like caring for a very elderly adult was just like caring for a very young child. No. No it isn’t. Not at all. But now she had to deal with the situation, alone, she knew.

Now that she had to use the internet to figure out how to cut Gran’s hair or give pedicures because the podiatrist was closed or constantly have to adjust the temp in the house, buy and make food she didn’t eat, use hoyer lift on bad days, help her to brush her teeth, deal with doctors remotely and fears of bringing home SARS CoV 2?  Now she understood.

She said she was going to claim the annual family caregiver benefit from Gran’s LTC for me. It’s not a lot considering the months I was there caring. But I was there out of love and never expected anything. Also, when you haven’t worked in 6 weeks and don’t have a job lined up, every little helps. So, water under the bridge.

Water Under the Bridge | A foot bridge over Silver Creek at … | Flickr

Anyone for Pooh sticks?

We talked about the US-Canada border situation. As of now my parents can legally return to visit, but they’d have to spend two weeks in quarantine. I don’t see that happening. But I’m glad it’s possible. It means in the fall, they can come back before the second wave hits and the border closes again.

We don’t talk about it, but it’s inevitable they’ll be there and I’ll be back on the frontline. Gran wouldn’t do well if she, and Minka, moved up and in with my parents. Her house is all set up for her needs. Her doctors are there. There’s no point in wishful thinking. The US situation is out of control now. In a few months?

I sometimes wonder if the 50K of elderly dead were 50K white male GOP donors dead, that we’d see action. I’m not sure. The refusal to mandate basic, “easy to do” steps to stop transmission is mind boggling. But almost 120K are dead, and nothing. Worse than nothing. Leaders actively encouraging superspreading with rallies.

Abraham (With images) | Blacks in the bible, Black jesus, Bible ...

Abraham wasn’t white. Time to change it up.

It reminds me of the story of Abraham pleading for Sodom. Only now it’s God asking if people will change their ways, like wear a mask, to keep the losses to 10 dead? No? How about 1,000 dead? Surely 100K dead? No? What about to keep their parents alive? Where’s the line with this nation? Is there one?

I remember when Americans were slack-jawed at the idea people in Africa refused to modify their behavior to stop the spread of Ebola. I remember conservative news outlets saying if “those people are too stupid to take basic precautions, why should we send people and spend money to help them.” Racism was foundational to their reaction.

I hope now American people can see, in normal times, to change millennia of social practices is hard. Getting human beings to change social behaviors, when they can’t see imminent danger to themselves? Trying to get containment, when widespread poverty (or fear of falling into it) is not addressed? Eradicating a virus, when a lying, incompetent dictator and his weak, greedy toadies pretend there is no virus?

And these are not normal times. It’s not an outbreak confined to a few nations, on another continent. It’s a pandemic. It’s worst right here. Yet, no one in the US seems to understand even basic things like exponential growth.

On Weds the US, in the midst of its massive uncontrolled outbreak, decided to restart flights to China. On the same day, China to cope with a (comparatively speaking) small outbreak, grounded all its flights. The level of stupidity in the US is so high, even progressive states with large upticks, like California, fail to mandate wearing a mask in public.

Sidebar: The Australian prime minister, John Howard, stopped gun violence, that killed several hundred people each year, by committing political suicide.

The California governor, Gavin Newsom, to stop coronavirus killing tens of thousands this year, refused to risk doing the same till yesterday. Not in March at 1K test-proven cases a day.  Not in April at 2K. Not in May at 3K. Yesterday, when the horse has left the barn and there is vast unchecked community spread.

BTW, the “mandated” mask-wearing “guidance”? Not a law. There’s no punishment if you blow it off. And, there is no state program is handing out free masks to the homeless, the poor, or under-served communities.

People assume if Joe Biden wins things will get better. He wouldn’t take office till the end of January. That’s six months down the road. I’d bet, with winter second wave, by then, the human toll will be enormous and much of the country will be shut down. But it’s not a future that’s unexpected. In fact, it’s expected. Dems in office is just the start of a new cycle.

The GOP model of government has been destructive venture capitalism since at least the 70s. Strip all the assets of a company (or country, ie, the US) for the benefit of the rich and then dump broken bankrupt company (or country) back to the Dems to rebuild it. And each time it’s back on it’s feet….the GOP strips it again. With each cycle, more assets go to fewer people and wealth inequality gets worse.

Cycling Jersey | Cycling Kit | Cycling Couture

The only cycle I want to be stuck on.

I have concerns about November, but not for the reasons most people do. Lots of people are talking about vote by mail, which the GOP — with zero proof — claim disadvantages their party.  No one is talking about the Post Office, which delivers ballots to voters and make sure they get back in time to be counted.

The office of Postmaster General has been held by a female Democrat. The second in command was a black male Democrat. Also on the 6 person board, another Democrat. So 3 Dem and 3 GOP on the board. The USPS wasn’t worth bothering with by this administration for 3.5 years. The minute VBM became an issue, a white Republican man, major donor to the POTUS, gets appointed PMG.

The current second? He resigns so “the new PMG can have the second of his choice” aka another white male Republican donor.  That puts the number of Republicans on the USPS’s 6-person board at 5. If you think that’s not going to result in immediate cuts in service and closures that affect how fast things (like ballots) get delivered or picked up in non-white and Democrat-leaning communities, I suspect you’re paying attention.

File:USPS Mailbox.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

You put your ballot in that box? Oh that box only gets picked up biweekly. So your ballot? Not going to count.

I gave my mother the number of the Samaritans Helpline before I rang off. Sometimes, you just need to talk it out with someone. Someone not a friend or family member. There’s no shame in that. I came within a cat’s whisker of calling a few times. But I talked it out with Minka. She’s a good listener. On the other hand, maybe that’s why she suddenly became a spree killer?

Since I had some money coming in, I decided to make a health-positive investment, and signed up for the Diabetes Undone course. I only just started it, but it’s been good, and helpful. My friends were right about it. I’d say totally worth it.

I’m trying to get the Significant Other to help me test out recipes but the program is plant based and the cookery leans decidedly vegan. Not a stretch for me, but for him….no. And that’s okay. He does a lot to keep fit and stay well. That’s all I really care about. I can throw a little organic grass-fed meat into his portion.

Simple Arabic Henna Eid Mehndi Designs 2014 For Hands Images

Simple in some cases can be pretty elaborate.

I also decided with extra cash I’d splash out on a surprise for the SO. I called my Jordanian friend and got the number of the mehndi artist that did her Eid / wedding last year, when there were still weddings. Thankfully “Noor” wasn’t busy. She was delighted to book me an at home appointment for Monday morning.

Friday afternoon, just after lunch, I heard the Significant Other hove up. He rides his motorcycle these days. The lease on the company car was up in January and it was deemed better to let it go, for now. Which makes my old beater our only car, and not really worthy of a white-tie arrival anywhere. So, I did wonder about our Monday dinner destination.

After snagging a quick sandwich, I expected him to go to work in the sunroom. He works 50% of the time at home and 50% at the office, so he’s there every day. The 5-person staff came up with a rota. Each person is in the office 40% of the time over a 2-week period, but never with the same staffer. This way everyone gets a chance to connect with everyone else. Less cabin fever and less stress.

Reports of UFO sightings still swirl around from time to time in ...

I’m sorry, there’s a 2-week quarantine.

But no. He’d taken the afternoon off. Interesting. He spent an hour in the garage, banging around, then “Mattie” an Australian friend who does landscaping and trims our trees and bushes every fall arrived. A series of rectangular slate pavers were laid horizontally from the backdoor to a point of nothingness on the lawn.

Next they installed attractive copper lantern solar lights along the pathway. (They lit up the following night a lovely amber color.) After that they pulled out tape measures, power tools, then round stepping stones. It was looking very UFO landing site to be honest. However, once they started to lay the stones out in a familiar pattern, I knew exactly what they were up to.

On the wet soil and grass, the stones would act as footers for the portable deck on which the 6M bell tent could be raised. For a white tie event, it was genius really. Exotic locale, yet pandemic safe. And it didn’t cost him anything. He’d bought the tent for the company events and parties a few years ago. It’s even got a tent stove, for those colder, wetter days. And Monday was predicted to be cool and rainy.

Camping & Hiking Equipment 4M Canvas Camping Bell Tent Hunting ...

Bell tent sides drop down, so you can get more of a canopy effect.

The dogs were very excitedly running about. Something new to sniff! The cats and I watched from the air lock. I was intrigued. Sweaty shirtless men with power tools. Mattie is gay so …. just fantasizing. As Mattie himself might have been. Eventually the cats went out and sat on elevated, dry, lounge space to survey their servants wrestling canvas, pegs, and pole on the lawn of their petty kingdom.

By the end of the day, the bell was up. The half-moon screened air vents were left open so it could air out and the canvas could breath and relax. On Saturday Der tweaked the guylines till it was perfect in shape and form. Then he dragged out the tent stove. I couldn’t imagine him making a white tie worthy meal on a tent stove. Realistically? I suspected delivery from a favorite restaurant was planned.

Sunday morning the flaps over the vents facing the house were lowered. The cats, who had been quite happy in the tent, were removed to the house, under protest. The dogs were also shooed inside. A van arrived around brunch-time. Two attractive women in jeans appeared, carrying large boxes. The interior decorator, and her assistant, had been (willing they said) roped into his scheme. Although I’m sure he paid them something.

Never Assume That Loud Is Strong - Tiny Buddha

It’s always the quite ones.

Everything taken into the tent was wrapped up. Very frustrating. I was told not to peek and spoil the surprise. I disconnected the Nest camera in the basement and told his nibs the same. I can say various pictures were taken by the ladies. Before, during, and after the decorating of the interior. I was later informed the company tent is now part of their new business plan, at least for the summer.

I’m sure a per-event rental fee will come back to the company coffers. As I said, he’s intrepidly entrepreneurial, and every little helps. They told me the the platform, tend, and all its fittings, post our event, would be shipped off to Mattie. He’ll become the tent storage facility as well as set-up and break-down person, thus spreading the wealth around.

As the ladies were out decorating, the SO was in the house cleaning. I could hear the vacuum. He’s not a messy person. But really would you want to walk into your home after months away and have to clean everything? I heard some loud thumps. Possibly furniture moving. The dishwasher ran. I saw some mopping equipment leave the kitchen cupboard and heard it travel upstairs to the bathroom. All good things.

Vintage Evening Accessories — Gentleman's Gazette

Master of Elegance.

Monday, he left the house very early. I found note under my door saying he’d be back at 6, and pick me up at the basement door at 8. Seeing he was out, and there was so little time left on the quarantine clock, I opened the door and went into the house. It was spotless. My favorite little vase was on the kitchen sill with flowers in it. Just like always.

I went upstairs and took a shower. A real shower with all my best products. Heaven. Afterwards, I checked out “the attire” on his antique valet stand. It was très élégant. The box of shirt studs was open. His great-grandfather’s pinky ring case was there. His best cologne. Top hat. Kid gloves. Pocket square. Polished shoes. Tiny flower boutonniere. And of course, the tie.

Definitely he was dressing to the nines. Most people don’t understand how sartorially complex white-tie attire is for men. Silk stockings with garters. Silk suspenders. Cuff links. It’s a lot of fuss. Beautiful fuss. Der goes white tie once a year, at New Year’s, just to keep in practice. I was glad I’d opted to splurge for the surprise. I grabbed up all my best things and took them down to the basement to sort through while I waited for Noor to arrive.

Ginger Rogers SWING TIME 1936 | Hollywood Pinups Color Prints

Nice, but what’s left to be discovered here?

If a woman wants to hold her own in the sartorial department when he goes white tie, she has to plan ahead. If he puts on a lot of layers, she must as well. It makes for equal time spent undressing. So, because a floor-length gown is required, it was the perfect time for French silk knickers, a long silk chemise, the garter belt stockings, a corset and various bling for the hair and body.

You also have to build in a few surprises. Noor was my secret weapon there. She did a simple henna mehndi from my big toe over my foot to my ankle then up the leg the top of the thigh where the stockings would stop. Looks good under the stockings, but also adds interest when the stocking comes off.

Since I’d decided on champagne opera gloves, I had her put a pattern from my index finger, across the back of my hand, up my arms to wear the gloves end. Gloves come off for dinner. He’d see part of it then. After dinner, the gloves go back on. So he’d have to ponder if there was more, till later. Or not. He knows me. There’s always more.

Open Necklace Gold Necklace Statement Necklace Collar image 0

Lots of space to decorate around.

I also decided to mehndi my neck as well. I went with a turtle neck black velvet halter dress with a gold wire open necklace. The necklace looks fab on the black dress, but once the dress is off? The mehndi pattern enhances the necklace, post dress, and is still there when the necklace is removed. Memorable.

A white-tie romantic evening is all about the slow burn. And granted, we’ve been on slow burn for months, but it’s important to savor such occasions, so they linger in the mind years after. Sure, I could wear a chic black silk strapless corset with the zipper. But that’s speed over style. Better the deep blue satin with gold brocade decoration and back lacing of black ribbon. That’ll linger.

Kudos to Noor. She was so much fun. We had tea and talked for a couple hours. She had no place to be. I sure didn’t. Henna takes a while to dry and darken. I felt bad that she did so much work and I could only let it set for a good six hours before removing the paste. But she pointed out that it was better that way. He’d see it orange red, but the following morning, it’d be totally different. A gift that keeps on giving.

Tips - Mehndi Time

Pretty sure the cat was always that color.

After Noor left, I went through my checklist of all the things I had to do to get ready. Yes, a checklist. So I didn’t miss anything important. Like my special occasion nose bling. I heard the SO arrive at 6 pm, as stated, then dash upstairs. The final bejeweling of the updo was already well under way. By 8 on the dot, as I was spritzing my best perfume, he was there at knocking on my door.

He was the height of sophistication. But somewhat under wraps. He had on his white evening scarf and black overcoat. But he tipped debonairly tipped his hat, and returned it to his head at a jaunty angle. I of course was covered up as well. I had my good champagne silk evening cape with black velvet trim and high stand collar. If I wasn’t getting peek, neither was he.

He opened the dutch door, popped his umbrella, and stepped out. I have to say, it was thrill to step out and put my gloved hand on his proffered coat sleeve once I opened the door. Silly I know, but true. We strolled into the fairly clear twilight, across the softly light slate path to the tent, which glowed from within. He complimented my eyes and compared them to the sky.

traditional bedouin beach tent with lanterns and outdoor dining ...

Another week and he would have had great weather to do this, but….

When we reached the tent flap, he decorously paused and unzipped it. I wasn’t sure what I would find, but I was not disappointed. The tent is huge. Candelabras hung from the center post. The floor was awash in colorful patterned rugs and fluffy cushions. A low round teak table with low chairs, was perfectly laid with china, silver and crystal. Romantic Spanish guitar music was playing.

The stove was on. It was warm in the tent. He closed the flaps so it would stay that way. Credit where credit is due, there was not a bed in sight. Just a low white divan. A bed would have been vulgar. To “expect” that was where the evening would be insulting. I mean, after so many months? Too having empty space for dancing was a plus.

He took my cape politely, but I made sure he got good look at the skin that was there to see. He placed it casually on a fat pillow, along with his gloves, hat, coat, and scarf. I believe the word “spiffy” came to mind when he turned to me and I beheld him in his glory, in the golden glow of the lanterns.

14k solid gold stackable ring  ruby ring baguette ring image 3

It’s a modern minimalist maple leaf? Okay. Sure.

We sat down at the mother-of-pearl inlaid table and he made us French Martinis. We made urbane, scintillating, flirty conversation for a little while, till dinner arrived. Courtesy of DoorDash, from my favorite Lebanese restaurant. I think the driver was a bit perplexed on how to knock on a tent, and then of course, seeing people inside in formal wear? Well, I’m sure he’ll be telling some tales.

Der set the dinner out in the center of the table, and shoved all the paper trappings into the stove. He opened an excellent malbec and poured generously. I at last had the chance to open my mousquetaires, tuck up my gloves and show my hand, so to speak. He was delighted.

I think it was the henna, but it may have been the little ring he gave me after I told him I was applying for permanent resident status. It’s just a stacking ring, a small ruby baguette in a thin gold band. Not expensive, but meaningful. And now it was enhanced with henna patterning around it. He immediately noticed his name, written across my hand beside the ring.

Plan a Lebanese Feast for Your Next Dinner Party | Allrecipes

Too much of good thing can be wonderful. — Mae West

At some point I left my hand on the table too long after eating a piece of namoora and he reached out and touched me at last. Fingertips on fingertips. Thrilling! Now I know why all those girls in Austen novels were always swooning. But then something peaking out from under his crisp white cuff caught my eye.

He had no watch on. This was expected. It’s a pocket watch with white tie, never a wristwatch. But as he never takes his watch off, even in the bath or swimming (it was a gift from his parents when he graduated, which is why he owns a white tie suit to begin with, it’s a Dutch thing), I never see his wrist. Now it was off, and I could see.

There was a band of markings, lines, squiggles, and circles across the back of his wrist. It didn’t go all the way around to the inside of his wrist. It was more a thin tattoo cuff, in some weird writing I’d never seen. And this was on a man who told me he’d never get a tattoo. They were okay on other people, but it would make him feel…déclassé. His word.

Angga on Twitter:

Trying not to judge you on your worst mistakes. But it’s hard.

When I got my nose pierced he was upset. The D-word was spoken. I explained, my body, my choice. And if I pulled the stud at some point, there would be no mark left. The same could not be said for a tattoo. Why not talk about again in a few months? (That’s de-escalating.) After a few months, he found it charmingly eccentric. Now he thinks it’s beautiful and sexy, for a day two every time I change it out and he remembers it exists — on my face.

I had to ask, “Is that a tattoo?” It was. “When did it happen?” A month after he hit the Netherlands. “Why?” He wanted a way to remember me, always. “And what does it say?” He merely smiled. “What kind of writing is it?” He didn’t say. I sexily slipped off my heels and showed him a glimpse of my stockinged, painted feet. He caved. Not just the women swoon over a bit of flesh in the 18th century.

He said he’d only give me a hint. “Haply I’d bet the moon, you’ll never guess.” The word haply gave away the phrase instantly. Such a romantic choice!

All Is True': A master of Shakespeare, Kenneth Branagh, stumbles ...

More of a hint, I cannot under pain of oath, relay.

Did he regret doing it. Never once. Would he ever get another? No, “it would cheapen the meaning of the one to get another.” I nodded. “So, it hurt?” Yes, like hell. We had a good laugh. I put my gloves back on, and we danced. He’d made a nice mixtape (why are they still tapes?) of vocal and instrumental music to slow dance too.

He started to look quite nervous and overheated after a bit, odd considering we weren’t that actively dancing. I suggested he might want to repair to the divan and “lose a layer.” He removed his tailcoat. We sat down together. I peeled off my gloves, a racy move. He made a stifled whimper and bent to undo his shoelaces.

When he stood up, he offered his hand. So I gave him my naked hand. Flesh on flesh at last. I confess to blushing. He tugged on his collar slightly and pretended not to notice. We returned to dancing, but still he did seem nervous. Turns out there was a reason for it. He had a surprise of his own.

Night and Day came on and he sang it too me, as we danced. Highlight of the evening. And yes, he went the Fred Astaire version. And yes, Fred was not known for his voice, although Cole Porter liked it. But, the SO nailed it. And the dancing was pretty up to snuff as well. After which point, I might have collapsed on the divan. A cigarette was not offered, but there was a kiss. And that’s all I’ll say about that night.

He took off Tuesday so we spent the day together doing normal things. Strolling hand in hand on a walk around the block with the dogs for instance. Going to the grocery store. Picking up an order from Les Amis du Fromage (the Friends of Cheese). Cuddling and fondue on the tent divan. Watching a program from 2020 (instead of 1980-2000 because Gran couldn’t follow “new shows”). Never hearing, “Why do you like such weird stuff?”

Weds morning I cleaned the basement and got all my stuff moved back upstairs, reclaiming my closet space. Oh, so nice to have a selection of clothes again and access to different shoes and lots of socks….glorious socks. After that, though it took me a bit, I did finally track down Der’s moon hint and confirm the tattoo. Not that I doubted.

The decorator showed up. She and her assistant packed up all the cushions and paraphernalia. Off it went in a white van, to where I know not. She seemed really happy that I enjoyed her design work. Then Mattie rang the bell and, with “help” from the dogs and myself, took down the love shack. He drove it away, pavers, lights and all. Like a mirage, it was gone.

Light Weights:

To be fair, it does look like a meaty bone pile.

Late that afternoon, I went up to the attic and opened my art/yoga/everything studio up. I love the smell of an art studio. I could tell it missed me. The air rushed around me like a big warm hug when I stepped in. The Prussian blue was weeping (linseed oil, I may not have tightened the cap enough). Yep, now I was really home.

The studio had been shut up since I left, so of course, the cats ran in and reclaimed their fabled window perches. I sat in my squeaky captain’s chair, turned on the spattered radio, and scraped off the palette table. The dogs seized the moment to grab some hand weights and run, till the realised their error. I heard them drop down the wood staircase, thunk, thunk, thunk.

Thursday morning we discussed the financial situation. What it came down to was, he’d rather I spent the summer doing whatever at home and not working and we could afford it. He thought I needed time to decompress. Hmm, really? That’s what you’re going with? Another d-word. Personally, I thought he just wanted to spend as much time as possible together because, you know, stuff we don’t talk about.

Otter mug Cute couples mug Anniversary gift for boyfriend image 0

My Significant Otter mug, from wonderflies on etsy.

I was looking at my otter mug when he brought this up. Had it been a different mug, things might have ended differently. I said he was probably right and it was a great idea and I’d wait till fall to look for a job. He looked visibly relieved. Truthfully the unemployment rate is almost 12%, I’d have to quit in fall, so isn’t it better to let someone else get the job? I’ll look for something remote, that can travel.

That afternoon the man I rented the cabin from called. He said in case the province shut down because of an uptick in covid-19, he could refund all my money or refund half my money and pre-book me to next year, same week, for half price. My feeling was he probably needed to lockdown income since rental is his business.

If the province shut down, half returned and pre-booking worked for me, I said. He seemed happy. Der said it was a good deal. But he was thinking next year we’d gather up some of our arty outdoorsy friends and maybe, go to the Rockies, and paint and bird watch and… live my childhood fantasy. Maybe we’d take our parents. And Gran, on a donkey? She’d totally go.

30 Best Summer Quotes - Inspirational Warm-Weather Sayings

Happy summering.

Later today I have an appointment to get my hair cut, finally. My mask is pressed. My jeans are clean. My henna is looking delightful. It’ll be my first drive into the “city.” I’ll probably get lost again but I’m looking forward to it. Long hair is great but looking like Cousin It? Not so great.

Sorry about the length of this post today. I’m wrapping it up and signing off for the summer, maybe for longer. Who can say. Remember, despite obstacles or setbacks, heartbreak or separation, sickness or disaster, life (as in being alive) is still good, loving someone or something makes that life a wonderful thing worth living, and never use the word déclassé.

Seriously. Never.

Snoop Dogg is Cousin Itt in new Addams Family trailer




This entry was posted on June 19, 2020.

Notes from a bathtub

Dinner at Eight (1933 film) - Wikipedia

Ik heb voorpret.

This morning, when I went up the stairs to open the doors and allow the pets wander down, but I found a high-quality invitation envelope on the ground addressed to me in fancy script. Inside was a letterpress printed card, on very nice paper, that said Significant Other requests the honor of your presence Monday, June 15th, 2020, for Dinner at Eight. White tie. Please RSVP.

Goodness me!

“I shall be delighted to attend,” I wrote on the back of the card, using my finest penwomanship. Then I taped it to the kitchen door, so  he would see it and the pets wouldn’t trample it. It’s been a cool rainy week. If I allowed muddy pet paws on his pristine invite, how would that come across? I thought. Which got me thinking about my own little mitts.

Hmmm? No. Just no.

Clearly, a day of beauty was in order. Such high-hat events take days of personal preparation. One must arrive impeccable. Which of course brought up the tub issue.

I wasn’t raised with bathtubs. I come from a culture where water is precious. Baths were only for sick people. You had a high fever, you got an ice bath. So maybe there’s some psychological issue there as well. I’ll admit that. But I cannot see how one can ever get clean in a bathtub. It mystifies me.

Needless to say, I’m a shower person. The Significant Other? A bathtub person. I never foresaw myself using the basement regularly, so when we created the bathroom, we ended up installing a tub with a telephone hand shower. Happy compromise? Yes, at the time. Now? Not so happy.

Skippy Smooth Peanut Butter Creamy Roasted Nut Spread American ...

Not just smooth, also 100% nuts. Let’s not forget that. Don’t worry. You’ll understand this later.

And doing one’s hair in a bathtub? For me that’s a whole ‘nother level of hell. I use the bottle washer on the kitchenette instead. It works well. But my hair gets caught in the drain if I forget to use the mesh cover. At this point, I’m so tub averse, I’m currently sitting on the counter  soaking my feet in the kitchenette sink as a prelude to giving myself a pedicure.

My SO finds all this ridiculous and amusing, but the man has issues with gas ranges that make my tub issues look tame. He can’t understand why a person who has lived through multiple bad wildfires is in love with gas ranges. He wanted an electric range in the kitchen, I said “hard pass.”

Ok, so why am I banging on about bathtubs and cooktops? Just as when you’re only experience with something is negative (me and the bathtub), when you’re only experience is positive (Der and the electric range), you have to work hard not to end up with a viewpoint that’s distorted either way.

Five Iconic M.C. Escher Works – Canvas: A Blog By Saatchi Art

This is what distortion looks like.

If I want to live in harmony with my SO, I have to be willing to look at and accept his lived experiences. Our life is richer and better when accept our differing realities, jettison old ideas, embrace new ones, and create a new reality together. It’s not always easy, but this is the nature of living a common life. And love and respect make it possible.

I have no experience of racism. I have no negative experience with the police either. But I support Black Lives Matter. And the defund movement. I understand that systemic racism exists, it’s crippling our nation, and for the sake of every citizen it must stop. But let’s remember, the system, is local, state and federal government.

The word police, comes from the word policy, which comes from the Latin word politia (meaning state, government). Police exist to enforce the policies which government officials decide. And we the people decide via voting who those government officials are that make those policies that the police enforce.

Buffalo City Hall (Buffalo, New York) | Buffalo City Hall is… | Flickr

City Hall. You own it. So, own it.

The decision to send police into the streets against innocent lawfully protesting citizens the past two weeks in every case was made by elected officials, city mayors. We don’t talk about that for some reason. But we need to talk about it. Because it won’t change otherwise.

Local government said it’s “ok” to use choke holds, flash bangs, tear gas, batons, and tasers. Said it’s okay to treat peacefully protesting American civilians like hostile, foreign enemy combatants. Which brings me to Buffalo.

Buffalo’s mayor, Byron Brown, is a black male Democrat. He’s popular. He understands the BLM protests. But he made a decision to send in a special unit of “elite officers, trained in crowd control” into the streets, knowing what that unit was going to do.

The mayor knew this unit’s directive was to advance no matter what, like an army, and to hurt any people that stood in the way. This is why medics travel with this group. It’s assumed medics will be needed to treat the wounded folks left in this group’s wake.

Mayor Brown said all of this on national tv last Friday, on a segment of the Rachel Maddow Show.

Business Ikigai: 4 steps for driving organisational purpose and ...

If your reason for being is to serve and protect people, stop being a tool of any power that wants you to crush and attack those people.

The officers followed their orders. They advanced, hurting innocent unarmed people, like elderly white peaceful protester Martin Gugino, and then called the medics to tend to their victims. So, while I agree what the officers did was 100% wrong, it’s important not to turn a blind eye from this (or any) mayor’s role in choosing to put this specific unit on the street.

Watch the videos on that segment in slow mo. The officer that shoved the elderly Martin? He’s the same officer that tried to stop and render aid. The second officer involved, per his training, didn’t stop but kept advancing. Their superior officer, per his training, shoved the first officer onward so he’d advance as trained. The superior called for the medics, as he had been trained.

If there’s no compassion, why did the first officer try to stop?  And watch the second video of the event. Lots of cops on that line stopped and looked. Black, white, male, female. They stopped and looked. But ultimately they advance, as per their directive. To write all these cops off as evil and violent is to overlook the complicated truth.

Trump tweets about Martin Gugino, a Catholic peace activist, not ...

The officer who pushed him down, tried to stop and render aid.

Violence is the method third-rate governments use avoid real solutions. Racism and police violence is real, systemic, and must be stopped for the good of all society. But it starts with replacing those in government who think violence is a solution to avoid addressing racism. Yes, the policing paradigm has to shift. But those in government direct that shift.

When the two officers were charged with assault on Martin, the others in the unit resigned in protest. I understand why they resigned en masse. The others knew what the training was, what the directive was, and what the mayor had ordered them into the streets to do. The mayor is taking no blame, and he should.

They should not have pushed an elderly man, that is assault. It doesn’t matter they didn’t know he was frail and did not see his balance and walking ability was less than normal. They caused his injury. But that’s what the mayor knowingly put them on the street to do.

The knotted gun -

You know how violent your society is when its symbol for non-violence is a gun. Think about it.

I understand mayors wanting to stop looters. One of the stores I go to all the time when I’m in So Cal was looted. The people who own this store are the best. They’ve been 40 years in this spot, truly serving their whole community, the whole region. They support BLM.

Because the word “pharmacy” is in their name, they got looted. But it’s an alternative medicine store that only sells herbal medicines and vitamins and the like. The owner was even jumped and beaten by three looters while standing by the store. He’s like 70.

Floor, windows, cases, refrigerators, computers all need replacing now.And insurance? They said they aren’t covering the damages. I guess looting is an act of God now? The customers started them a gofundme page. You can see pictures and read about the damage there.

Pharmacy Owner Assaulted During Looting Gets Help Picking Up the ...

Looting sucks.

Could that store have used police protection? Sure. But would there have been looters if there had been no protests, if the current (or any previous) mayor had addressed the citizens concerns about racism and police violence long ago?

Honestly, people have to vote in mayors (insert any office) that are going to prioritize the concerns of the people. And in this day and age, small groups decide big races. There isn’t a large black population in the US, but when that population turns out to vote, it changes everything – in a good way.

I don’t see anyone in any of those massive protests out there handing out voter registration forms. Getting people registered so that in the next election the whole power structure can be changed is critical. I don’t see anybody doing it. But I hope to God it’s happening.

Know Your Voting Rights | ACLU of Michigan

They do.

People who protest with the expectation that people in power — the people who set the cops on them  — will change the system, are living in a fantasy. It’s like watching people take Mitt Romney seriously as a social activist. Walking with Christians for social change during a BLM protest, doesn’t meant you are a Christian for social change.

If you have to reach back to your father, 60 years ago, to find a instance of social activism to remotely connect to yourself? You aren’t interested in social activism. You’re senate record proves that. You’re just another Republican who rubber stamps everything the POTUS does.

Taking a walk doesn’t change who you really are, or what you really believe, or who you really represent when you sit in the senate. If anyone would like to know how Mitt really feels, please review his 2012 video. Nothing’s changed.

Social activism is a central tenet of Christianity. Just ask James, who grew up with Jesus for a big brother. James, Jesus’s younger half-brother, tells us about the criticality of social activism in his letter (James Chap 2).

You either walk the walk, or you’re just talking the talk. You’re doing the good you can, or your walking by on the other side. Faith without works is dead. The Significant Other never walks by. It’s one of my favorite things about him. He’s like my Da in that respect.

This week, he came across a woman with a box full of desk items crying in his building’s stairwell So he stopped and socially distanced, in a mask, sat with her. Her small interior design business was struggling. She was losing her office in the building on the 15th.

She couldn’t work from home for various reasons. She had an assistant. She needed a smaller, cheaper office. But with all the moving costs, and coronavirus, and …. it seemed like the end of her dream.

Attractive woman holding paper box with office stuff on street ...

Worse than being fired? Having to fire yourself.

Being intrepidly entrepreneurial himself, he understood. He asked how much essential space she would need for just herself and her employee. Not very much. So he took her up a couple floors to his office and showed her his small, glass-encased conference room, which had its own door to the main hallway.

“Would that be enough space?” It would. “You’d be in a fishbowl.” She could put up frosted window film on the glass. And the rent? Based on the footage, she could afford it to the end of the year. The building landlord was okay with the sublet. He’d even change the interior/exterior locks on the conference room and have a new plate made for the door, Suite ###B

If her business gets back on its feet, she’ll move into any suitable empty space in the building, if not, they’d at least all tried. Either way, Der would eventually get his conference room back. Meanwhile, he’d catch a break on his rent, she’d keep her business, and the landlord could rent her old much larger offices. Win, win, win.

Etched frosted glass vinyl window graphics with the FirstBank ...

Like you’re not even there.

Der’s office helped her move in the following day. They even gave her business website a big upgrade and suggested a new marketing strategy. All she had to do was transfer her phone and internet lines up a few floors and and hang some vinyl film. She was over the moon.

Someone made a choice not to pass a suffering person by. Someone stopped, listened, and tried to help in the way most appropriate. And because of that, two people kept their jobs, property got rented, money circulate, and the economy was helped along.

Not all social activism happens in the street. Sometimes, probably most of the time, it happens in stairwells. And the impact is so small, world never hears about it. But it’s the small kindness which keep the world turning in a positive spin.

here, take mine

No matter how small the kindness, it really does count.

I’d be up for talking to someone in the stairwell right now. I think talking to the public health officer now and then to confirm I’m still in quarantine is my biggest contribution to society right now.

Although, I bought a small piece of art to support a street artist I love, David Zinn. His mastery of color, design and perspective are incredible. He works out of Michigan, but sometimes he bounces into Canada.

And my old yoga studio in So Cal  recently started streaming their classes. Only $9 a class. So supporting them too. Real people doing real yoga. Honest thoughtful practice to slowly heal the body and soul. Love that place.

So, I’m doing small things to support great people out there doing wonderful things and that’s gotta count for something.

Easy Twisted Updo Tutorial. Hairstyles For Long Hair - YouTube

Elegant updo I’m thinking of.

Meanwhile, back to doing the good I can — in this case for the one I love. I’m going to spend the afternoon experimenting with hot rollers. There’s not much of a cut or style left to my hair after so many months without a salon trip. But I need to figure out a solid updo for Monday’s white tie affair.

Although how long really will the hair be up? The Friday love song (well, it’s a song, and it’s definitely about a kind of love) has got me thinking not long. Especially as his plan is to show up and show out, smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy. (See I got there.)

Better get my Hallelujah tuned up.

This entry was posted on June 12, 2020.

Notes from a basement

Happy New Year! | Official website of Nola Cross, Author


At last, I arrived home on Monday. It was strange to be back after so much time. I actually missed my exit, twice, too busy looking around. My neighborhood seemed utterly foreign. I’d left it in the dead of winter. Now it was summer. Everything was so green and lush, like Eden on a good day.

As I pulled into the drive, my significant threw up the sash of the sunroom and popped a bottle of well-shaken champagne, dousing the car. Then he vanished. The cats looked on, from the comfort of their window seat, too cozy to wish to move. They’d see me later, yawn, stretch, “what’s all the fuss?”

Everyone Needs To Stop What They're Doing And Admire These Cats ...

You’re back? Do I look like I care?

As I got out of the car, I heard the back door open. Shortly after I was enthusiastically greeted by the dogs. Der went into the garage and grabbed a large piece of 3′ by 3′ plexiglass, put it between our (masked) faces and kissed it. So I kissed the other side, a la prison visitation.

It was weird to be home and not to be able to hug or kiss or even shake hands. But that’s how it is, at least till the 15th. Provided neither of us comes down with something. In the interests of health, I had to schlep my own bags in but, we could face to face at least talk. Sort of. Masked and 2 meters apart.

Where We Got Our Dutch Doors + FAQ - The Inspired Room

I guess for Der, just …. a door.

I entered through the backyard, as I was going to be staying the next 2 weeks in the basement. The yard was a riot of color. I’d missed the azaleas blooming, but the peonies were bursting. There’s a Canadian Peony Society, that typically has a festival in June. I had thought to go this year. But …. covid. Suck it.

Some things were still as per usual. Der had put in the dutch door for the summer. We have a backdoor that’s solid wood, but in the summer we put in the dutch door. Good ventilation, cuts cooling costs down, and the pets like to run outside as they wont in good weather.

Coronavirus Quarantine and Eating Disorders: A Perfect Storm ...

Apart, together.

Once you enter the back door, you find yourself in a postage stamp foyer, with a wall before you and wooden doors both right and left. Right, takes you into the back of the kitchen (and if you’re not careful, you’ll bang the breakfast nook). Left opens onto the top of the stairs going down into the basement.

What I didn’t expect was the doors into the kitchen and basement having been replaced as well. This was not usual. He’d put in glass doors so we could see each other frequently through the “air lock” and have meals and talk “together-ish.”  It was brilliant. Only he would think to do something so pedestrian that would make so much difference.

Of  course, too, only he would think it funny to use my transparent medium cad red acrylic paint to stencil a bar across the basement glass door that read Quarantine. Or to hang a countdown clock on the wall facing the dutch door,  a clock which had apparently been started the moment I called to tell him I was over the border.

25 Simple & Cool Countdown Clock Designs With Pictures

OK, that’s ….helpful?

I went down to the basement, and found table set with a breakfast of pannekoek and a walkie-talkie. The basement is something we finished as a second living room / office / guest space. It has a three piece washroom, and a kitchenette complete with an electric cooktop, sink, and small fridge. It’s mostly a second living room.

We put in a wall unit that has shelves on each side and a large drop down desktop. But then the desk folds up and the middle section can pull down, as a Murphy bed, for guests. Or residents who might like watching really late or early live European sports.

Templeton Built In Murphy Bed - YouTube

I don’t know Murphy, but I love this thing! Furniture origami.

We often have guests (or used to). Sometimes planned, sometimes not.  It gets late, people are too tired to drive home. Sometimes we deem them too intoxicated. Sometimes the weather is bad and it just seems unwise to send them forth. So, we have this safe place to shelter those in need.

For a two-week stay, the basement is very livable. I can go out into the yard and garden, sun, read, play with the pets without putting anyone at risk. With my Gran I could never open a window, due to her asthma. I plan to spend a lot of my quarantine outside.

Decompressing and catching up on “me time seems” important. So yoga, meditation, and painting. Der scored me some fresh supplies from Rath’s, a really local excellent art shop. I’m also doing a 14-day Covid-19 Isolation Retreat, created by the Irish monks of Sacred Space.

I plan on lots of sleeping and listening to relaxing music. Minor attempts at finding employment will be made, but…. Major attempts at bird watching will happen. And I’m going to wok my heart out. My Gran abhors the smell of wok-ery, so I didn’t.

PHOTOS: Thousands gather at Vancouver Art Gallery to protest ...

Somewhat socially distanced crowd.

I feel bad that I haven’t been able to go to any of the protest rallies. And I doubt rallies will be happening two weeks from now, but you never know. Der went to rally at the local art museum with friends and coworkers on the weekend. It’s strange but when he told me, after the fact, I thought, “Wow, that was really brave.”

I wasn’t thinking about him getting beaten or catching covid. I was thinking if he’d protested in the US, as a green card holder, and been arrested, he’d likely have been deported and banned from re-entry. It didn’t used to be that way. But now, well…the US isn’t even allowing people who are qualified to be citizens to go ahead with the last ceremony to make it official.

In contrast to the US, Canada is going ahead with virtual naturalization ceremonies. My thinking is the current GOP administration in the US doesn’t want new voters registering, especially new immigrant voters who might value things like democracy, freedom of speech, and peaceful protest as a legitimate way to ask for change.

Fully Armed Rally-Goers Enter Kentucky's Capitol Building ...

So this is okay to do, inside the state house, because they’re white men?

It’s interesting that white men with assault rifles standing in state capitols in an attempt to intimate governors to lift life-saving restrictions during a pandemic is ok and applauded by the GOP, but non-violent unarmed people asking for justice in the public streets for a murder of a black man in the public streets demands a violent military response.

NYPD Cracks Down on George Floyd Protests After Curfew

But unarmed nonviolent protest over black men being murdered in a public street gets you arrested?

I don’t think the media has really understood the administration’s objective of putting down protests is strictly political. It’s a matter of “the GOP wants to run on the economy but they can’t do that if the economy is closed down, first because of covid, now because of people protesting.” This is about reelection. Not justice. They don’t give a toss about that.

For GOP leadership, the only thing that matters is money. It’s government of and for profit, not government of and for people. It’s not like this is news to anyone though, is it? It’s not like this hasn’t been happening for decades within the GOP. Power to the profit, not power to people.

How lessons from the Black Panthers could change the food movement ...

The second amendment is for everyone, till the GOP sees African Americans “exercise their right” and form “militias.” Then it’s a problem.

Is it really a surprise the Black Panther’s 10-point program is as relevant today as it was in 1968. Just look at point 7. We want an immediate end to POLICE BRUTALITY and MURDER of Black people. This is the only point where they used all caps. Look at the capped words. We’re 50+ years on and the demand is still the same.

If I were a US governor, I’d call the National Guard out, to walk with the protesters, as their escort to ensure they are safe and un-harrassed. I’d want my NG to have medics there to help anyone in need, to pass out water and masks, to remind everyone of social distancing. Using the NG in this way would free up local police to be elsewhere handling any crime, ie, regular police work.

You can have a safe rally, march, sit in, die in, etc. It’s possible. And you can have an opened economy at the same time. If protesters social distance and wear masks, then being outdoors (dispersed viral load) isn’t that much of a danger. If the NG are with the protesters, there’s no need for police to be there or reason for police-protester engagement.

How to De-escalate a Conflict Poster – Mendez Foundation

Seriously, if a stewardess can do it…..

To be honest, I don’t understand why it’s difficult to say “it’s against the law for police to touch anyone from the neck up.” Or to “it’s against the law to sit, kneel, stand on any part of any suspect, who is handcuffed and on the ground.” Or “all forms of choke hold are illegal.” I don’t see why any of these actions are legal or need to be.

But then again, I don’t see the need to knock a frail, white, male, 75 year old protester onto the cement ground where he hits his head so hard he bleeds from his ear and all the police do is walk by. Over 30 police walked by and did nothing. It took 15 seconds for a National Guard medic to tend him. My bet? Swelling on the brain, possible death. Best case scenario? He’ll go from functional adult to brain-injured dependent in care for the rest of his life.

There are systemic problems in our society. But they are problems we can change as a society. I don’t believe all police officers are racist, out of control, murders anymore than I believe all Muslims are terrorists or all immigrants are rapists, or all conservative republicans believe in unrestricted gun ownership. But I do believe that all groups have problems, systemic cultural problems, that need to be dealt with.

KinderKARE - An escalated adult cannot de-escalate an... | Facebook

government/public; protester/officer; you pick the pairing.

Change is hard, it can be costly, and some people will not be able to make that change. That doesn’t mean we can stick with the status quo. For the sake of a future America, and future Americans, we have to change and begin work on a better kind of policing, economy, justice system, education system, government, society… or risk collapse.

Sometimes a building needs a light remodel. Sometimes it’s a total gut job. Sometimes it’s been neglected so long, you’ve got to peel back to the foundation and even that needs to be jacked and leveled and put on new footings. But it’s all okay, because it’s what you’ve got to do to make the house sound and usable for another 50 or 100 years.

(Sorry, I binged on Maine Cabin Masters the other day.)

2020 Foundation Repair Costs | Cracks, Leaks, Leveling & More

This job looks a little sketchy to me.

At this point, I’m going to leave the foundational problems of race and police violence, and talk about another foundational issue facing the country, SARS CoV 2.  I’m actually going to talk about contact tracing in the US.

As you may remember, I took the free Coursea Covid 19 Tracing course. I learned a lot. But perhaps my biggest takeaway was that if the US doesn’t up its contact tracing game, it’s game over.

In BC contact tracers are asking people about their contacts two weeks before onset of symptoms, to try and back track to how the person caught it. In the US? They don’t do bother. They’re only asking about who the tested-positive person might have infected.

And then we wonder why things are so bad?

Inslee announces contact tracing initiative | Islands' Weekly

Washington state’s diagram. Not really in a box. More like caught in the wheel of karma, maybe?

China had a coordinated, national response based on coordinated and national standards of testing, tracing, and care. It had a mask-wearing public and lots of appropriate PPE. It had isolation hotels, so people didn’t transmit the virus inside or outside the home. It had hospitals dedicated to SARS CoV 2. It still has strict quarantine practices and  supervision of people coming in from abroad.

On top of all of that, China had 81 contact tracers per 100K people.

California, a state that’s trying to be science oriented in its response, doesn’t have a mask-wearing public with access to lots of appropriate, free PPE. Or isolation hotels. Or dedicated hospitals. As for quarantine / supervision practices of people coming from outside the state?

Shrug Hands Stock Photos - Download 1,207 Royalty Free Photos

I dunno, is not a good answer.

As for contact tracers in California? We had on the order of 2.8K as of May 4 for 39.5M people. That’s about 7 people per 100K. Less than a 10th of China’s contact tracing force. The governor wanted  to up the number of tracers to 20K. That’s about 50 tracers per 100K.

Contact tracing slowly taking shape | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

China asks contacts (5) of a contact (4a) to isolate. They don’t wait for the contact (4a) to show symptoms. That’s how they stay ahead of the virus.

Let me math it out for you. To be where China was on contact tracing, given our state’s population, we’d need 32K contact tracers. If I were the governor, I’d be training an army of 50K volunteer tracers (because you know some will get sick or have drop out) to be mobilized by any county that needs them at the drop of a hat and by the state at large.

Why? Because contact tracing is the only layer of protection we actually have. Testing is out-the-window bad. We don’t do hotel isolation. We don’t have dedicated hospitals for covid patients, which is part of why the nursing homes have been hit so bad. And we certainly don’t have PPE for the public or even a public that will wear it.

In short, California, a progressive science-based response state, lacks all the foundational layers of protection nations that are doing well, like China, have used so effectively. And to make matters worse, and this is true of all states in the US, we have county level public health and each county public health office makes different decisions.


Cutting transmission is only possible with isolation or quarantine given the long tail of this virus.

There are no coordinated standards. Not across California’s 58 counties. Not across the 50 US states. For example. One county in Iowa does contact tracing and considers only someone to have spent 30 minutes talking 6′ apart with a person diagnosed with covid as someone that needs to self quarantine.

That’s great. That’s what they decided. The CDC says 15 minutes of exposure and 6′. That means this county in Iowa is missing hundreds, maybe thousands, of people that should be in quarantine. They have no chance of stopping the spread. And they’re residents will spread it to other counties in Iowa and other states.

I guess if you’re a county in Iowa that wants the rate of transmission or cases to be low, because you have a county or state officials pushing to open the state economy, even if lots of people die, then having your public health officers choose to set their bar at 30 min and 6′ is a good way to do that. You can still pretend you’re protecting the public and display reassuring (but false) data to your citizens.

Chart: Americans Refuse Contact Tracing | Statista

Then there’s this problem.

I’m pretty sure any country that’s successfully beating SARS CoV 2 has nationwide coordinated efforts and standards. Federal government exits for just such occasions. The CDC used to exist for just such reason. There’s going to be wildly different levels of success, if you have wildly different standards.

Yes, you can have some cultural factors that make a difference. Norwegians speak very quietly. That’s going to slow the spread. In Japan, you have to be apart to bow to another person, built in social distance and no touching.

But in the US, in a state like California, where 144 languages are spoken and cultures blend freely….not to have statewide standards? Wow. So, so wrong. And ultimately so costly in both lives and livelihoods. Worse, it’s all completely unnecessary cost.

File:What is contact tracing COVID-19.png - Wikimedia Commons

You want an open economy, you need contact tracing. You want less people to get sick and die, you need contact tracing.

Santa Clara county in California is an interesting example of forward thinking that’s going to protect lives and livelihoods. They put out the call for volunteer tracers. I applaud this.

The only way you can safely reopen a county within California, or the entire state to the rest of the US and the world, is through testing and contact tracing. But our budgets, state, county and city budgets, are already in financial tatters.

How do you put the little money you have left where it’s going to be most effective? Well, you start by not spending money you don’t have to. You start by not paying for a whole lot of employees you don’t actually need.

Santa Clara county, by taking on volunteers and training them to be contact tracers, made the smart move. They’re protecting the health of their community while freeing up their budget to put dollars towards other vital needs. When fall comes, they’ll be sitting pretty.

Hourglass On the Beach Sand Stock Footage Video (100% Royalty ...

The time you have to prevent widespread death and economic loss in fall? It’s running out.

Once again, there is time to act, but that time is already slipping away, and people in charge are just pretending it’s all fine. It’s a repeat of the sequence of non-events and inactions that put us in this position in the first place.

You can see the water is pulling back from the shore. You know the tsunami is coming. Why are you just standing on the beach?

NWS JetStream - Tsunami Inundation

Huh? That’s strange. Where did all the water go?

Without contact tracing to follow up on people who have been tested and diagnosed with the virus, there’s no way to stop the spread. Without national standards, and integrated contract tracing ability, there’s no way to safely open the country. And that’s economically a hit.

Even if you have your state under control, what about when air/sea/land travel once again picks up between states, or between nations? What if the US is virus free, but the rest of the world still has ongoing outbreaks?

Kids yoga classes in San Diego County. - Yoga Rascals

Improve your coordination people, or it’s the kids who will suffer.

How are you going to open up economically without having a handle on virus control and international travel? What’s your coordinated response going to be with other countries, or the EU, or Latin American states? Right now, it’s all a hot mess.

The only answer the federal administration has is “close the borders.” That’s not a plan. That’s not facing the reality that you need to face in order to make good decisions. People aren’t paying attention to what they need to do now, to prepare for A) resurgence or B) opening the economy.

And, believe it or not, A and B require the same solution. It’s not a “we only have to do this if A happens” scenario. Contact tracing is something that’s going to be needed on an ongoing basis till there’s a vaccine that works and the larger part of the world has had it or till covid burns through the world and burns itself out.

If you want B, you need to avoid A, and to do that, you have one choice, C, Contact tracing.

Volunteer Opportunities: Creative Ways to Volunteer and Make a ...

We get through this together, or not at all.

Building a volunteer contact tracing army now, is what’s going to keep schools with teachers, hospitals with doctors and beds, and emergency services with supplies and vehicles to respond to those in need. It’s going to save live, livelihoods, and budgets. It’s what’s going to help us reopen the economy safely, nationally and internationally.

Okay, switching gears. The Friday love song. Still happening, just closer to home. He went with Can’t take my eyes off of you. Which is a great song. But I have to point up we do have a Nest camera installed in the basement as a safety feature, so the choice struck me as a bit stalker-creepy.

I almost picked up my walkie-talkie and mentioned this to him, but I sent him back a song instead. Come to think of it, Rev. Hammer’s song is probably be what every American law officer’s should be hearing in their head when they see a nonviolently protesting fellow American.

Peace Out Peeps Easter Shirt Tie Dye Hippie Bunny Gift Tee - Peace ...

And protest on.

This entry was posted on June 5, 2020.

Notes from a barn

Performance Quarter Horses

This is a blue roan. Never say you’re going grey, you’re just opting for roan.

Hmm, so….Enjoying a little dawn time in the barn with my pal Romeo, a roan gelding of 16 hands in the next stall, and two very friendly barn/house cats, Pumpkin (an orange tabby) and Pye (a piebald cat). I honestly didn’t think I’d make this far a couple days ago.

My Friday post, which should have gone up Friday at 9:40 am, got accidentally scheduled to post at 9:40 pm because 9:15 am is when my mother called, in a panic, because Gran’s blood pressure was 202/111 with a pulse of 55 and she didn’t know what to do, I just hit schedule and ran.

Talk about thrown in at the deep end. Poor Mutti. And at that, I went from chill mode to thrill mode in a split second. I called my Gran’s doctor’s office and set up a telemed appointment for 10 with another doctor who works Friday’s at the same practice. Then I got more details from my mother before the appointment. Then we did a 3 way meeting.

It went well. The doctor wanted Gran to take clonidine. She said if Gran’s pressure didn’t come down, she’d have to go to the ER. The ER, in a time of coronavirus. Um, no. After the doctor hung up to phone the prescription in, I talked my mother through everything she needed to do before going to the pharmacy and everything she needed to get.

By the time I hung up, my father was already in his suv with the engine warming up. I jumped in the back seat and off we went. I felt wiped out, and maybe a little hungover, so I understandably took a nap, hoping to be “fresh” and ready to hit the ground in caregiver mode when we arrived at Gran’s.

Dappled green leaves stock photo. Image of leaves, green - 168594638

The dappled leaves of a sycamore.

Hours later, I woke up to a soft breeze, the sound of birds, and the sight of green rustling leaves and dapples of sun. It seemed calm and oddly wrong. It was 3:32 pm. The car was parked. I sat up to find I’d been abandoned and the car was again in the drive of my parents’ house.  I wasn’t sure if that was a good or a bad sign.

Turned out, Gran’s BP had come down below 180/110 by the time my mother got backand the ER was off the table. She called my father with the news, and Da had turned around. He said Mutti was feeling much better, less panicked, more in control of the situation. She was doing laundry, load 8 of 10, to zen out. But Gran was having other problems and I should call.

I called. We went over sign and symptom, medication, O2 levels, everything, again. Gran said she felt cold, but Mutti said she felt really feverish, but the thermometer said Gran’s temp was normal. The BP was under stroke level but Gran’s pulse was low, too low to be able to give her more of her another dose of her regular BP med in the evening as the doctor had said to do.


Pedialyte Electrolyte Powder, Strawberry Lemonade, Packets | Milk ...

It’s a sad truth that I carry this stuff everywhere I go. I’m addicted.

I told Mutti to just try to keep up the pedialyte and ensure, take her vitals every hour or so and record them, along with any symptoms or signs, in case we had to tell the doctor, and continue bed rest till the morning. I asked her to call me early Saturday morning. Honestly, it was hard to sleep that night. Even hundreds of miles away….still caring.

The next morning, at 7, (ugh, but I did say early) we went through everything that had happened since the last call. Telemed is tough. Gran’s doctors are wonderful. They listen, they’re knowledgeable, they try really hard, but boots on the ground are always better. Sometimes, you gotta trust your own knowledge of a person and go off script. This was such a time.

After spending all night thinking about Gran’s case, and factoring in the new data, and reviewing all the symptoms, I told my mother it seemed like an infection. Maybe sinus, UTI. It was a reasonable explanation for high blood pressure, low heart rate, and fever. And for why BP meds were failing to do their job. Normally they work well. This time, not so much.

Ace Ventura Costume - Little Shop of Horrors Costumery - Costume ...

I’ll be calling an audible now.

Because of Gran’s many surgeries, her ortho surgeon makes her take antibiotics before she sees the dentist. I knew she had a bunch of antibiotics around. So, I called an audible. By that evening, my mother, with much effort, had Gran dressed, (semi) up in a recliner chair and fairly alert and coherent. Her blood pressure was okay again, her pulse had come back up and normalized, and her O2 levels were good.

By Sunday morning, Gran was improved. Her BP was a bit high, but with her pulse up as well, a half a blood pressure pill took care of everything. Even O2 levels were good –without the oxygen concentration. Best of all, she was well enough to complain. I’d call that crisis…. maybe averted? She 90. Who can say.

For the time being, I could however, as my Da likes to say “Go in peace.” So I went. There were no calls on the drive to Washington. I took that as a good sign. Speaking candidly though, I’m not sure my mother will be able to hack it 100 days with Gran, by herself. I did say she could reach out to my friend with the cat, offer to pay her to come do laundry in the garage, it wasn’t a big risk but it would be a big help.

Canvas Bed Roll Cowboy Roll Camping Bedroll (Red) | Emergency Packin'

It’s a bedroll, not a sleeping bag.

I took my own food, water, and camping bedroll from my parents’ house to Washington. I didn’t want to have to stop anywhere, for anything. Although I had my mask and gloves, and I did eventually have to stop for gas. It was late-ish when I pulled up to my friends’ barn. Still, my friends came out, with lawn chairs, and pie.

Barns are good places for socially distant socials. We sat and talked. It was nice to be with old friends and hear new stories from new places. I kind of see why long ago travelers were always mobbed when they reached a town. We must have sat there at least 2 or 3 hours. Till they began to worry about leaving their kiddos alone in the house, although you could easily see the house from the barn.

It’s a nice barn. Small as barns go, but it has a sink in the tackroom and there’s an outhouse not too far off. The hay bales made a nice rack once I threw my bedroll over them. I’ve slept indoors on much worse, in places with more mice. And I’ve had worse neighbors in the adjoining room, although Romeo was a little gassy and a loud pee-er (no prostate problems there).

Barn under the Stars Photograph by Bill Wakeley

Copyright, Bill Wakeley.

We said our fare thee wells that evening after the social as I planned to leave early to make it to the border by an hour or so after it opened. I didn’t want to get their too early and sit and big line of vehicles. And even after crossing, it was still going to be over an hour to reach my final destination, so….I wanted to pace my journey.

I’m still not sure they’ll let me cross. I’m like 90% sure. I say this because unlike the US, where people are freely moving between 50 states, and spreading virus, Canada took to locking down some provincial borders. People there are running into issues moving around within the country. And God help you if you plan to move across country. It’s like catch-22, especially for those of lower income. A friend sent me this sad story. Definitely praying for Kaden and his dog.

But I’m hopeful. Today starts a new month, and the summer season. I’m going to try to use my 100 days of summer well. Try to be good to myself. Enjoy a Summer of Love (even as I suspect it might become another long, hot summer).  Make it a summer of change, a summer of righteous commitment to doing the good that’s in front of me. A Look Back at the Summer of Love

Give peace, and social justice, a chance.

I didn’t talk about national events last week because personally so much has been going on. But also because much of what’s going on nationally has happened before, repeatedly. Trayvon Martin, 2012. Michael Brown, 2014, Eric Garner, 2014, Freddie Grey, 2015, Philando Castillo, 2016. Botham Jean, 2019, Aumaud Aubery, 2020, George Floyd, 2020. To name but a few.

Far too many American men are dead for no good reason. And if those men had just been white, they wouldn’t be dead at all. That’s the sad truth. People want to put brutal, in your face, racism in a box and not look at it. But, exactly like coronavirus, you have to look at a problem in order to be able to take steps to fix a problem.

The 'long, hot summer of 1967'

This was 1967. And 53 years later, just the fashions have changed.

In a weird way, our government coronavirus response is just like our government social justice response. And that shouldn’t be surprising. The same people, with the same mindsets, are in charge. They see the world a certain way and they like what they see. I feel like they’re channeling Louis XV “The monarchy is very old, but it will last my time.”

I’m going to now reference white evangelical Christians, because they are the ones that voted in the current administration and they 100% support this very old system of injustice. I’m a Christian, I’m allowed to make these observations.

The largest evangelical publication is called Our Daily Bread. It’s a free daily devotional. It’s very much designed to be an evangelical outreach. It’s got some good stuff, but it has a definite white evangelical conservative twist. If you know that, you can skip over the theo-politically tainted stuff.

On the other hand, sometimes you just can’t. The message for Sunday May 31, I kid you not, ended this way….

“But shouldn’t we hunger and thirst for righteousness?” you ask. Picture a small child trying to get a gift high on a shelf, his eyes glittering with desire. His father, sensing that desire, brings the gift down to him.

The work is God’s; the joy is ours. Easy does it. We shall get there some day.

This was written and printed months ago. But, kudos for divine timing. I can’t imagine a better example of “old white patriarchal evangelical” theology than this. And I mean no disrespect. But “righteousness” is not being viewed as a social good (what Jesus was talking about when he said to hunger an thirst for righteousness).

In this brand of theo-political thinking, righteousness is not seen as something to be actively fought for and sought after. It’s been reduced to a purely personal goal, that God will hand the faithful, someday, in time. Sorry, but that insular view goes against Jesus’s teaching.

Here’s reality. It’s a “pissed off at unrighteousness, aka social injustice” Jesus.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”

We have to go slow? We’ll get there someday? Really? Did the Founders wait around for King George to give them freedom, justice, or self-rule? I don’t think so. White male Christians of 18th century America didn’t wait on God to deliver them from British rule. They saw the social system was unrighteous and rigged against them. When peaceful protests didn’t change it, they picked up arms and fought it. Were they wrong?

Washington crossing the Delaware River, on Christmas Day, to take the people’s fight to the power’s stronghold.

And what did Jesus actually say? He said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”. It’s only the people who are actively hungry and thirsty for justice, that get satisfied. Why? Because, duh, they actively want it, they actively need it, and they actively go after it. They act, in faith. But they act, as individuals and as a society.

Ever been really hungry or really thirsty? Maybe stop eating and drinking the next few days. Hunger and thirst, those are real, basic needs. You will die if you go without food or water long enough. Just like societies die if they go without righteousness, ie, social and economic justice, long enough. You’re going to do whatever it takes to get what you need to survive, or die trying.

Black History Month — 2019: “Nah.” ~ Rosa Parks - Mark Ricks - Medium


Telling people who have endured centuries of injustice because of extra melanin in their skin: “Sorry, you little kids [citizens], you have to wait on your father [the government] to decide when you get your righteousness [justice/equality/rights]. It’s a gift [not a right, because you’re not white/male/christian/straight/etc]. He can withhold it as long as he likes, till he thinks you’re ready [which is never].” is just ludicrous.


Yet this is basically what’s happening. What’s been happening over and over again for decades. People’s just anger is devalued and ignored. Leaders hide behind bad theology and self-serving laws. It’s everything that’s wrong with white evangelical Christianity. It’s everything that’s wrong with American government.

Instead of dialogue, people get “Back of the bus. Wait your turn. Maybe if you stop protesting.” Then the national guard gets called in to put the people down with tear gas and bullets. There’s never dialogue, never justice, never change. So the next time the people in power visit death on their fellow citizens, anger that never went away boils up again.

We as a nation need to break the cycle. How do we do that? It’s not rocket science. The best thing I read all week was Sharon Salzberg‘s article about social activism (How to have the world – and the life – we want) in the July edition of Lion’s Roar (a Buddhist magazine). It really speaks to this moment. She said

Anger keeps us from being passive or complacent, and it gives us courage. It’s often the angriest person in the room who’s insisting everybody look at the problem while everyone else is determined to look the other way.

In other words, when you see angry people, stop and see them, stop and listen to them. Don’t hide in your mansion or make speeches from your podium. Get out there and face to face dialogue. Take a risk. The angry people did.

Sharon Salzberg - 1440 Multiversity.

Sharon Salzberg, wise woman.

She also said, and this is probably something I’ll frame and hang:

Underneath anger or feeling overwhelmed there is very often a sense of helplessness, and that’s a horribly uncomfortable thing to feel. But if we can face it and be with it, then we don’t do desperate acts to avoid it and we learn different relationship with it. It’s like “Okay, this feels really painful. But it’s not wrong. It’s just painful.

We develop compassion for ourselves and compassion for others, and then we realize, “Oh, if I take one small action, that will help ameliorate that feeling of helplessness.” It won’t dissolve this terrible system of suffering and oppression so many people experience, but it will bring back to life our sense of connection.”

When I see people take to the streets, I see people insisting we, as a society, stop and look at a real problem in our society. I see people taking the one small, very American, action they can to move from helplessness to hopefulness, they protest.

When we as a society refuse to look, refuse to listen, refuse to change to ensure every American is treated equally, we drive our fellow citizens desperate acts, to violence, to burning it all down because….maybe they’re convinced that’s the only way to get seen and heard.

If something is on fire, someone has to come put it out. If property is damaged or stolen (forget lives damaged or stolen), someone in authority sees it, and someone always shows up in person. But what if those in authority showed up early, to walk with the protesters and dialogue with them?

I recommend it, as a Christian.

I really don’t see a lot of showing up from the people in power. I don’t see mayors and governors walking in the streets, sans riot gear and sans national guard escorts, with the public. I don’t see peace summits happening on football fields, where you can social distance and talk with large groups.

Honestly, I see cowards with power. I see people hiding in their mansions and bunkers and press rooms. I don’t see them walking among the people to talk, risking catching coronavirus and dying because it’s that important to be out there, the way it’s that important to the citizens to be out there protesting.

Changing society takes sacrifice. If you love the people who voted for you, if you love your city or state, if you care for everyone’s well being, if you hope for peace and change, then it’s worth you getting out there and risking death for to save and to heal.

This entry was posted on June 1, 2020.