Plague Diary 16: The World Is On Fire

A couple weeks ago I started a blog entry about supermarkets, and how we have all just managed to get used to the idea that the stores are going to be out of things regularly. I feel like it’s important to remember that up until oh just six fucking months ago this was unheard of, by and large, and stores, big stores, did not regularly have big empty spaces on the shelves and weeks that went by when you just couldn’t get x (in my case, plain seltzer in cans, WTF?) But now that happens and we all just act like it’s normal because it is, now.

Oh well! that no longer rates a whole blog post. It probably should!

Meanwhile, the first week of September I loaded up the camper and the dogs and we went up to Olympic National Park for a couple days of camping. It was mostly awesome but I was hoping to do a bit more hiking; unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take dogs hiking at Olympic National Park. I need to do more research before I blithely strike out for parts unknown, clearly. So we stayed by the beach, which was beautiful and actually it was great; no phone! No computer! No internet! I read and reread a whole bunch of Joan Aiken and I wrote actual letters on paper.

Then we came back to Astoria and shortly thereafter the fires started. We are lucky enough not to be near any fires but unlucky enough that the wild west winds that started the fires in the first place – no, you goddamn morons, it was not “Antifa”, we are smart enough not to burn down the places that we live, unlike you – blew all the smoke to the coast, where it has mostly remained. We are better off than Portland and other places in the middle of the state, but not by much: our air quality is hovering around the 200 AQI mark, which means it’s very unhealthy and you shouldn’t go outside. I have a Harvey so I have to go outside and I can feel it, a heaviness in my chest, my eyes start stinging, I get a headache. And the air was yellow, now is white, but you can’t see very far and everything is muted and thick. It sucks. I hate it. It has kicked my anxiety into high gear and I can’t do anything at all. The recommendations, such as they are, even tell us not to vacuum. I have never been forbidden to vacuum before and it turns out it’s a sure way to make me yearn to do it.

I followed the advice of this tutorial and created an air purifier and I dipped into savings and bought the cheapest HEPA air purifier I could find on Amazon. It turned out to be tiny so it’s in the bedroom. If I spend an hour or two in there I can emerge with a little energy, unlike the rest of the time when I just want to lie on the couch and play fish game (fishdom, don’t do it, you will end up like me, on level 972 and actually caring that you have been demoted yet again to silver league) or watch weird reality TV. Yet again things are piling up undone and I get the uneasy feeling that I have slipped out of the depressed, but coping section and into the depressed and not coping one.

But what the hell does it matter? The world is burning. In the fire zones, there are armed people stopping traffic and accusing others of being antifa, as if anyone with a brain and a heart isn’t anti fascist. The cops are continuing to shoot black people with impunity. The protests in Portland have gone on so long they no longer mean anything. Homeless people are stuck breathing poison air and there is nowhere for them to go. We’re all breathing poison air; the skies are yellow or red; you can look directly at the sun without hurting your eyes. And the seagulls, last week, slept all through the dark day.

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Plague Diary 15: Things Do Not Get Better, But Worse

My daughter informs me that I have become longwinded with age and so nobody can read this blog anymore. She is right! It is true! And it is even more true in this time of decreasing attention, when none of us can even muster up the concentration of a goldfish. It is hard to maintain interest in more than a paragraph when your morning doom scrolling is so, well, doom laden. My doom has been interrupted by more doom! I no longer remember last week’s doom! From now on, I’m going short and choppy. Like the headsman’s axe.

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Visitors!

A family member came to stay for 10 days. Yes, thank you, I know we are not supposed to be traveling and I don’t want to hear about it. Like lemmings, we’re all going off the cliff together. At least we’re doing it the public mask wearing, socially distant way.  It was good to see them and it was fun to play tour guide and they were impressed, as who could not be, by the scenery and the cool breezes and the obligatory drive down to Nehalem Bay with a stop at Cannon Beach and the crabs and crossing the river to Cape Disappointment and Josephson’s Smokehouse and the eclectic mix that is downtown Astoria on an Artwalk afternoon. Then, out of the blue – the literal blue; the weather has been unsettlingly beautiful, just clear, clear blue skies, day after day – two old friends from originally Baltimore and then Western North Carolina (they’re going to have to move here, we’ve been moving around each other for twenty years; can’t stop now) arrived with their dog Chauncy. They only stayed overnight but we drove up to the Column and did some driving around Astoria and then a morning beach visit and it was lovely. I like showing off my house and my adopted home town.

 

And, well, hopefully none of us will die from this. None of us are actually particularly social even in the non plague times, let’s be honest, so we are probably somewhat less at risk than many. It’s worth it, maybe: even crabbed old hermits like me enjoy speaking with other humans now and then and humans who have known you most of your life are a special kind of beloved. I don’t know. I do know the campgrounds are packed and the beaches are busier than you would think they should be and there are lines around the block for the Bowpicker just like any ordinary August, so, here we are in the sixth month of the end of the world as we know it. Add a few middle aged people sitting outside on the patio and chatting to the mix and, yes, doom, doom, doom but at least we go with love in our hearts.

 

Of course when another friend called and asked about coming down for the day in the middle of all this I howled NO. Then two days later when I put the last visitor on the train in Portland I called her back and said, I am so sorry, yes, please, I was just having a company overdose. Introverts unite! She completely understood. And I am ready now for more people. I’ve had three days of glorious solitude: lying on the couch, eating too much, drinking too much and talking to the dogs about politics.

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okay maybe we did have one day with mist in the morning. Look! Friends!

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Weather! Plants!

1O0A5228The sun just keeps on shining. I miss the fog and rain, to be honest, but I’m weird. Meanwhile, I am harvesting cucumbers – you can, in fact, grow cucumbers in a deck box perched on top of a rickety 7′ wooden fence – and I even got one relatively decent, if small, tomato. I have dill coming out my ears and there is a birdbath with a working fountain in the garden! I did that before the plague dollars stopped coming but it still cost only $40 – half for the tacky ass white plastic birdbath and half for the magical solar ever burbling fountain – and an afternoon of painting it and filling the hollow plastic base with concrete so that it looked better and would not fly away in the first gust of wind. I am mightily pleased with it, myself, although I have yet to see a bird making use of the facilities.

But it is too hot. I hate the heat; I still get hot flashes; they apparently will never end. I lay here last night and thought I was going to die in the heat as the hot flashes took me over, 82 degrees in the house and I feel like I’m dying. Pacific northwest houses are not built with heat in mind; they have no idea of airflow, no fans, no shutters, no ways to beat this kind of heavy weather.  I watched some v shaped flights of small birds this morning, heading due south down 101, twittering – no, in the old sense, not, I think, on tiny phones – and I thought, please, yes, draw in the days, bring back the long fog and the gray mist and the soft autumn rain.

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The World At Large

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the world might end but there is always cannon beach

Yeah, okay, this is the end of the world as we know it. The plague dollars are gone; we’re all desperately poor now except for the people the ruling party cares about and they’re rolling in the dough. When I finish posting this blog I am going to apply for foodstamps. And for jobs but I have more hope for the foodstamps, honestly. People are dying every day in the hundreds, the thousands, of Covid 19 but the schools are reopening, because the rich have realized that this plague isn’t really touching them except for Herman Cain and he’s tweeting from beyond the grave anyway. Mammon must be appeased with the bodies of the poor and Herman Cain. The rest of the world wants no part of us and all the borders are closed so there is nowhere to flee. The battles continue in Portland and they are being taken up at Stone Mountain and elsewhere; the cops have come out for Trump, surprising exactly nobody, and the current scandal is the evil dismantling of the Post Office. They can’t DO that, shout people, disregarding that we are about four years into them doing exactly what they want with no accountability whatsoever – turns out that running a government on the honor system doesn’t work when the real crooks come in – and here we are. Is there going to be an election in 80 days? Do you believe, like I do, that he stole the last one? Do you think he’s going to steal this one too? Does it even matter because the planet is dying? Why is Biden such a drag? What about Harris? Does the VP even matter? Are we going to vote for them anyway with grim desperation? Should we have dismantled the electoral college in 2000 when it robbed us of President Gore and a chance to stop the arctic from burning? YES, is the fucking answer to the last two and for the rest, I despair and all I can do is lie on the couch, drink sun tea and read terrible novels on the iPad, enriching Jeff Bezos by $10 a month so I can lose myself in unending streams of poorly written paranormal cozy mystery romances. Bring me a goddamn werewolf, somebody, anybody, and together we will take on this mess. Or at least flee together, our hair: perfect.

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and also there is cape disappointment which would be an awesome place for a getaway with my werewolf lover

 

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Plague Diary 14: Solutions

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Prints available for sale. Apropos of our times, is it not?

This morning I figured out how to open schools safely. I did this in two hours while lying in bed trying to get back to sleep without falling back into nightmare (my dreams are reflecting the world outside my head again and it’s not. . . pretty.) My daughter just called to tell me that she solved the world’s economic crisis and also that she has been exposed to Covid – again, but quite definitely this time – and is getting tested again.

Gods forbid we stop reopening the bars and restaurants and everything else; the rich might be inconvenienced. They might lose a tiny fraction of their wealth if the serfs aren’t out there every day dying for the economy.  In just a few short days, the extra unemployment goes away and then people will begin to starve. More people, that is. There are a fair number already there.  And there are federal troops disappearing people in Portland and soon, Trumpacabra promises, there will be more: in Chicago, in Baltimore, in Philadelphia, in Oakland, in LA, in NYC. In everywhere, actually, that might be counted on to vote against the idiot orange criminal in DC. Including, of course, DC.

I cannot think about it. I want to go to Portland and join the Moms – I too am a Mom, after all, and it’s only two hours away – but I have no one to watch the dogs and I need to take my immune system, or current lack thereof (between the blood thinners and the surgery three weeks ago, I basically don’t have one) seriously. Which sucks. I feel helpless, hopeless and terrified and I don’t have any solutions. Except for the schools, that is.

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Foggy mornings at the beach lately. Yay!

Hear my school solution! The answer is this: we must hire hundreds of thousands of teachers. Everyone who is unemployed and seems reasonable should be hired. Me, for example. I actually have a background in education that I’m not using and I can’t be the only one. Schools get broken into bubble groups of 8 – 10 kids. The parents and neighbors and so on get a say in who is in their bubbles, thus lessening the chance for outside contamination. Each bubble group of kids has 2 teachers. All the school buses get turned into housing for the houseless (hire more people to convert them) and we buy fleets of 10 passenger vans, one for each group, or, okay, two groups can share one, I guess. The bubble groups go all over the place, learning about nature out in the woods, about construction on construction sites, about trains in the trainyards. The unemployed people at the airport get to show them the airport and the planes. They go out on fishing boats. They go to farms and volunteer. They go, if they are in Baltimore, to the Golden Eggs of Poo, a beloved and memorable field trip for many young Baltimoreans. Meanwhile, set up big tents around the schools. That’s where your bubble group goes for meals and reading time – each kid has their own reading beanbag to lie on; it travels with them. The bathrooms are port a potties. Each one is cleaned between kids. That’s the worst job, so the person who does that makes the most money. The school day runs from 10 am to 4 pm. When the weather is too cold to be outside, then school is over until it gets warm again. The school buildings get turned into a combination of intensified social service agency – we also need to hire thousands of social workers – and emergency family housing.

Now we have revolutionized education in a good way.  However, that’s the solution for younger kids. For high school kids, we go full metal Hogwarts. High school kids and their teachers go to boarding school. Everybody lives there. Nobody leaves, nobody comes in. Where are these schools? Hotels. Mansions. All nationalized for the greater good and now an educational Covid free zone! And what do the kids do all day? They farm, thus ensuring that our food supply doesn’t go away (this incorporates my daughter’s plan, which involved paying the unemployed to farm.) They go on massive nature oriented field trips and multi day backpacking adventures. And, they do WPA style infrastructure projects, learning trades in the process. Who cleans up Flint’s water? High school kids! Who converts massive plants to solar? High school kids! Who converts all those school buses to housing? High school kids! And every day they work is applied towards college tuition, so when the pandemic is over, if they want to go to college, they can go for free.

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Eligible bachelor elk.

I believe this all has a chance of being enacted roughly equivalent to that of the proverbial snowball in hell. This is too bad, because the course we are on is going to kill hundreds of thousands more people and the trauma of that is – already has – going to permanently scar a generation or two. And the hell of it all, the true hell, is that all of this could have been avoided if we had fixed our fucking rigged election system after Bush the Second. If we truly lived in a democratic society and truly had one person, one vote, then I honestly believe we’d have a sane adult human being in the White House right now and representatives in the Senate and Congress who actually gave a shit about the people they are supposed to be representing.

But, you know, that would have inconvenienced the rich and we cannot have that.

PS in other news, I can and am walking again, huzzah; the bachelor elk herd is in Fort Stevens with fuzzy new immense antlers, see above; I have decided to bake all my own bread, which is not going swimmingly – I had to off my sourdough starter and I nearly cried; I think naming it may have been a step too far – and I have discovered that I can, in fact, eat All the Fat now and this is not, probably, a good thing. But oh gods grits are just better with cheese and tofu is better fried than baked, oh yes it is.

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Plague Diary 13: Through It and Over It

I survived surgery! My gallbladder is gone! It has been 12 days and I am actually finally feeling mostly better. It was a long twelve days and I don’t EVER want to do that again. I always knew I was not brave enough for plastic surgery and my god, I really know it now. Go through that when you don’t absolutely have to? FUCK NO. It was horrible. I’ve been exhausted and motionless and lying on the couch watching home renovation shows for days. I was too out of it to play Minecraft. That, my friends, is out of it. Healing, it turns out, is hard when you are suddenly, inexplicably, not 27 anymore. And every time I think I’m better I end up sleeping away the whole next day. But on the bright side, I have interesting new scars on my belly; I am halfway done with a respectable scarf; I have watched every episode of Flipping Boston and learned a lot about joists, beams and how to hate dark cabinetry; I have cautiously eaten potato chips and been fine, hallelujah; I have drunk wine and been fine, double hallelujah (I tried a little earlier in the week and couldn’t drink it, just couldn’t get it down and thought with horror that maybe I would never be able to drink again and honestly I am not up for going through the rest of the pandemic sober, sorry, no) and I have even had pasta with parmigiana and been fine, whoa. First cheese since February! I lost almost 30 pounds! Maybe I shouldn’t leap right back on the cheese bandwagon, hmmm.

The picture on the left is right after surgery when my belly was still all inflated from the gas they pump into it – yes, it’s creepy. The picture on the right was taken just now. As you see the scars are fading! What you do not see is the incision complete with stitches that is actually IN my belly button. The stitches come out tomorrow. I feel very brave or possibly shameless or possibly stupid  posting pictures of my stomach like this, by the way.

 

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phone pic from this mornings walk!

So, now I am mostly better – and thinner – and the plague continues apace. The tourists have descended full force and in deference to my still compromised immune system, I am quarantined AF. Because of that and because I still am not back up to pre operation walking levels (this morning I made it approximately 1/2 the way of our usual dike trail walk and that is a new record) I have even ventured into the wild world of curbside pickup groceries. In the interest of journalism and also because it just worked out that way, I have now done curbside pickup with three grocery stores: the Astoria Coop, Wal Mart (I know, I know) and Fred Meyer. Turns out that, like surgery, curbside pickup basically sucks. I am unenthused. Not surprisingly, the Astoria Coop had the best interface, the best products and the best overall experience, which may have been helped by the fact that I did not go pick up the groceries; my wonderful friend Shawna did. She is also the friend who took me to the hospital, picked me up and called me every day to see how I was doing and without her I think I would probably be dead. Or at least wish I was. She is AMAZING. I absolutely could not have done this without my friends and Jolleywagz dog walking, who you should utterly hire if you need help with your impossible Harvey.  When she couldn’t do it, my friends Kelly and Jeff filled in by taking Harvey over to play with their chickens. Harvey LOVES chickens.

Returning to the groceries, though, this is about the groceries: in case you have not done it, this is how it works. You go to the store’s website and pick out your groceries. This can be daunting – Fred Meyer has a LOT of groceries – and kind of misleading: it was very difficult to tell which size of something you’re getting at Wal Mart, which is why I now own a 2 lb bag of Beggin’ Strips junk food treats for dogs. Or possibly Harvey changed the order, who knows? They ask you if you accept substitutions, and I said yes, which is how Harvey ended up with small dog toys instead of large dog toys from Wal Mart. Fred Meyer lets you check out your substitutions in the parking lot, which is why I do NOT now own unsalted Saltines because seriously? Get real. Eww. Salt is right there in the name. Wal Mart does not offer to let you check out your substitutes, just dumps them in your car. I didn’t try the substitution thing at the Coop. After you are done with your grocery list, which is not a short procedure (like I said, there is a lot to pick from and it’s sort of difficult, in that you, or at least me, get filled with terrible ennui at least three times and have to walk away for a while) you pick a time that you will be there to get them. You choose an hour time slot and at all three stores, there were time slots available the next day. They don’t charge your card until that day.  I had to wait about 30 minutes at both Wal Mart and Fred Meyer – and at Fred Meyer, I had already gotten a panicky phone call when my order was supposed to be ready. The girl on the line sounded as if she was about 14 and ready to cry when she asked if I could come in three hours later. “Yes,” I said, “Of course,” secretly relieved that I wouldn’t have to leave the couch and she sounded so happy. So I got there three hours later and still had to wait half an hour and that was somewhat irksome but, well, whatever. Fred Meyer bags your groceries in nice paper bags with handles; Wal Mart uses plastic; the Coop gives you small paper bags without handles. The people who brought it to the car were tired and disgruntled and I don’t blame them one bit. I probably should have tipped but the websites tell you not to, so I didn’t.

Then you get home and see what you have got. The garlic Fred Meyer sent me is a sin and a shame

but the green beans were fine. The tomatoes from Wal Mart were not all that but they will do, in a pinch. It turns out I have much more willpower online than I do in the store and so I didn’t buy any cookies or ice cream or chips, which was really stupid. And I was hoping that I would get some kind of crazy wonderful substitution random item – instead of pasta, here are poptarts! – but, no, it was all just regular boring groceries.

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Harvey had an extremely rough time with the fireworks all weekend and here he is in Perdita’s green hoodie, which did not help. Perdita even got rattled, which is not like her, and I had to dig out the tranquilizers from our cross country road trip in 2018.

In other pandemic news, 3 million Americans have now been infected with the coronavirus but the federal government, or what’s left of it since the grifters took over, are doing nothing but fanning the crazy flames. In Oregon, we have stopped at Phase Two of reopening and I suspect we will have to close up again.  The numbers go up and the people still don’t get it. I am not naming names, but there was a woman at a doctor’s office- a woman who WORKED THERE, who took my blood pressure and asked me a bunch of inane pointless questions (yes I am coughing, yes that’s why I’m here, no I don’t have coronavirus, I just had SURGERY, I can’t BREATHE because of the fucking breathing tube*) was “wearing” a mask by, basically, dangling it from her head, like, it barely barely covered anything. I said, “Uh, your mask, it’s not. . secure.” and she tore me a new one about how she had a rash behind her ears and it was perfectly secure. From the side I could see her mouth moving furiously. It was a small exam room. I probably have the damn thing now.

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This is the view from the doctor’s office. I haven’t actually used my real camera in twelve days, go figure.

Anyway, the plague dollars are going to stop flowing at the end of this month and that is when shit is going to get real. This household, for one, will be plunged into some seriously dire poverty unless I can find a decent job, which I am trying to do. I’m also painting, which is nice and if I keep it up maybe I can sell a couple, which would also be nice. And that’s all good in the realm of pipe dreams but it would probably be more useful to come up with some recipes for rat on a stick, cooked over an oil drum fire in the wreckage. I do not think the loss of the plague dollars, the $600 a week that suddenly taught so many Americans, including me, what it is like to actually make a living wage – you can breathe! it’s fucking crazy! You can pay your bills AND buy food! – is going to go well at all. The protests continue and nothing happens but lip service – painting Black Lives Matter on the street is nice and all but it’s just not the same as arresting the cops who killed Breonna Taylor – and, well, we’ll see.

However! I’m still alive! That is excellent! And I don’t have a gall bladder and while I don’t feel all that different, I don’t miss the sucker.

 

  • I didn’t have pneumonia but it was a near thing.
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Plague Diary 12: Near Brushes

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America! Fuck yeah!

Last week, my daughter called to tell me that she had probably been exposed and she was on her way to get a COVID test. Fear concentrates the mind wonderfully, somebody said once, but mine just started spinning and it hasn’t really stopped yet, although we now know that actually, she wasn’t exposed, or at least not by the person who supposedly was the vector. Although, of course, she might still have been exposed: my daughter has been back at work at a restaurant along with so many people as the economy reopens and the hospitals fill up. She will get her test results* back this week and I will get mine as well: I’m going to be tested tomorrow morning. I am scared. I am panicked, actually, but I’m not sure whether the panic is coming from the COVID test** or from the upcoming surgery – FOUR DAYS OUT AND COUNTING – or because I am so damn worried about my daughter and my son, both out there working service jobs in this new and unforgiving world.

Speaking of unforgiving, in any other nation I think Trump and his cabinet and his family would be in prison right now where they belong. Or possibly marched through the streets, tarred, feathered, strung up barbarically, hung at high noon – I know, I don’t endorse that sort of thing normally, BUT. Almost every other single nation in the world has managed to control this pandemic but not only has the US not controlled it, nor done anything to mitigate the effects, nor marshaled an effective defense much less come up with a coherent plan or guidance, they have actively encouraged it becoming a political football and now we have a complete breakdown in public health. This should never have been allowed. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, political in this: wearing a mask can save your life and other people’s lives. It’s really fucking simple and straightforward. But it has become the latest casualty of the culture wars and, well, that’s all she wrote. Yesterday, at the grocery store, hardly anyone was wearing masks. I watched a family – mother, father, little girl – move from aisle to aisle. “I love you!” said the mom, poking the little girl in the stomach as she giggled. And it was all I could do not to turn and say, “Really? Do you? Then why aren’t you wearing a mask? Who is going to take care of her when you die from this? How can you take this risk?” May the best immune system win, indeed.

Meanwhile, as the country continues reopening apace despite skyrocketing COVID numbers, here

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Melancholy!

we are at the end of June. Father’s Day always brings up a lot of conflicting emotions for me and this year particularly, since in just a few days it will be 20 years since my father died. My dad was basically Don Draper from Mad Men (and I can’t watch that show.) He was a white upper middle class man who fought in WWII, which, I believe, left him with a lifetime of undiagnosed and untreated PTSD and then became a successful businessman in the postwar economy. He would not, I keep thinking, recognize this America. Our relationship was not wonderful but he was a complicated and smart man. I keep remembering a fight we had once when I said something slighting about the USA and he furiously told me it was the best country on earth. And you know, for him it actually was. It has not been so kind to his children and there are a multitude of reasons for that but a big one is that the country really has changed. The US has indeed always been a cesspit of racism and destruction but, for a little while there in the middle of the 20th century, it was possible for many people, particularly white people, to live and do well. While I obviously do not know, I think that had a pandemic come along in the 50s, people would probably have worn masks. It is the kernel of truth in the Maga madness: it is true that up until the 90s or so you could support a whole family on one paycheck. You could buy a house. You could send your children to college and they would not be burdened with a lifetime of debt. That this was true is of course due partly to the legacy of FDR and the new deal, partly to strong unions and very largely to a progressive and sane tax policy that charged rich people and corporations a righteous 70% of their income. Maga people never want to talk about that. And it is all over now, just a remnant of decaying memory: in the before times, when you could sort of live okay without working five jobs which expose you daily to a deadly disease that could have been controlled and was not. Reagan started the destruction and Trump is finishing it and I have no hope left for the USA.

HOWEVER! In other plague related depressing news! The supermarket is weirdly denuded again. For a while there it was as if things were back to normal at old Fred Meyer but now? Nope, the canned soups are gone, there are warnings of limits by the chickens and the powers that be have apparently decided that the best thing to do is fill up empty shelves with potato chips. There is apparently no shortage of potato chips. So the paper aisle is 1/4 giant overpriced things of paper towels, POTATO CHIPS!, some random toilet paper, POTATO CHIPS!, fancy paper napkins and, inexplicably, wooden matches, POTATO CHIPS! It makes for a more interesting shopping experience. And I bought a bag of potato chips, even though I can’t eat them. Yet.

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This is to show you that the next bit is really different! Also it was a lovely foggy day the other day.

****************IN OTHER OTHER NEWS BECAUSE A DAY OR SO HAS PASSED***************

I got my COVID test today. I went into the hospital affiliated Urgent Care, conveniently located next to the hospital, as I had been instructed to do. The Urgent Care is kind of wild, in that they make everyone sit down six feet away from the receptionist and sort of shout their answers back and forth.
“And what are you here for?”
“Well I fell down the goddamn stairs and I’m pretty sure I broke a damn rib or somethin’! And my last time I saw somebody they said my blood pressure was 190 over somethin’! You got somebody here can check that?”

As I sat there I learned things. It turns out that COVID tests are sent off to a lab for processing. It also turns out that that lab is having trouble – their machines are broken (look, don’t you eavesdrop at the doctor’s office too?) and they’re having trouble fixing them and everybody who got their tests done at the end of last week is going to have to have them done again. This does not, you know, inspire joy in one’s heart when one is sitting in a chair in a mask playing word games on one’s phone.
“And what are you here for?”
“Well I knew it was probably stupid to borrow his glasses but I did and now I think I have pinkeye.”

“Look,” said the super nice nurse with the totally gorgeous glitter eyeshadow, “I’m trying to get it authorized so you can get the special test that comes back in an hour or two. But we don’t have a lot of them so I’m on the phone with my boss and she’s on the phone with the head of the hospital, and anyway, can you come back in an hour or two? I’ll call you when I know anything.”

Several hours later, after I had a long phone conversation about my medical history with another hospital person –
“Do you have an advance directive?”
“Uh. . . no. . . . I guess I should?”
And in which it transpired that I am probably the only person who has ever not had anesthesia by my advanced age, Eyeshadow Nurse called back. “I’ve got you authorized!” she said, “And you can come back any time.”

So I went back, which, by the way, took some SERIOUS GUTS, because I have now convinced myself that the postnasal drip and endless sore throat I have had in flareups since probably 2016 or so is actually COVID and that if I tested positive they would probably disappear me. And also, the test was going to hurt. It did in fact hurt. It is seriously no fun. I banged my heels on the table like an angry little kid; I couldn’t help it. But it was mercifully brief and afterwards I talked to the nurse practitioner about my toe, which I whanged into the steel table in the kitchen last night because, you know, my life is not complicated enough. She offered to X ray it and I talked myself out of it quickly. I can move it. It hurts like hell when I walk on it, but, whatever.

Anyway, now I am home. I limped Harvey around the block; I have a glass of wine; I have not yet heard from the hospital about the results of the test and I am going, in the absence of news, to assume it was negative and I will be having an operation on Friday. I’m still scared, but what the hell. I’m deep in the grasp of the medical/industrial complex now and all I can do is hope I float to the top by Friday afternoon.

Hey! If I do shuffle off this mortal coil, while what I really want is a Viking funeral, and after that a green burial, I suspect all that would be too hard on my kids, who will be having a rough time anyway as they attempt to shuffle through decades worth of half finished artwork and paperback science fiction novels. So cremate me, toss half my ashes in the Pacific and the other half in the Atlantic and I loved you all. Throw a goddamn party and have a raging hangover in my honor.

 

  • She got a bag of schwag when she got her test! It had stickers and badges and helpful pamphlets and I think a t-shirt and I am just in awe: corona schwag, covid collectibles, truly we have jumped the entire fucking shark now, as a country, as a people and as a zeitgeist.

 

  • I doubt I have COVID but as soon as I think about it I panic and am convinced that I do. I have a sore throat, but realistically I have sort of had a sore throat for months, possibly years. I have headaches, but I always have headaches. And I don’t have any other symptoms but I am afraid, afraid of the disease, afraid of having it and having passed it along, afraid of the test, which I know is going to be horrible, and just, oh gods, so afraid. My anxiety is basically stratospheric right now; I am a walking, breathing panic attack. No wonder I can’t sleep.
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Plague Diary 11: High Risk

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I may bitch but I have been able to walk alone in places like this almost every day since this all began and I know how incredibly lucky I am. 

Finally, my gall bladder operation has been scheduled: June 26, which is to say, 13 days from now. I went in to see the surgeon for a pre op appointment – my second pre op appointment, because the first one, which was just as everything shut down, was deemed too long ago. Things have changed a bit. It turns out that if you must have surgery during the plague times, then you must also get a covid test 72 hours before the surgery and then isolate for those 72 hours. This is because if you have covid-19 while you have surgery, the survival rates, which for gallbladder surgery are like 98%, plummet to about 50% or less. Ha ha! Don’t worry! It will be fine!

WELL YES I’M FUCKING FREAKED OUT AND SCARED NOW.

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Fort Stevens has reopened (yay!) but they are rebuilding the jetty and this is where I used to walk every day. I am unenthused. 

I have been trying to be fairly smart about the whole pandemic / quarantine thing without going completely nuts. I keep thinking of a Bruce Sterling line from a 90s sci fi novel that offhandedly mentioned that people with indifferent hygiene practices had all been eliminated by the first wave of pandemics in the 2020s. I may have mentioned this before. It has been floating near the top of my cluttered junk shop brain since early March. Anyway, to be completely honest and out front: I am not the greatest at hygiene. My house is usually kind of a mess. There is dog hair. There is cat hair. There is what I call dog silt, which is a sort of grunge that builds up on things – I don’t know where it comes from and I don’t want to know. The floors are a bit sticky pretty regularly and they occasionally sprout those black blobs my darling friend Noelle used to call floor cancer. I do not vacuum enough. Sometimes the dishes sit for 24 hours. And etc. Basically, let’s face it: I am just not the kind of person who is capable of cleaning all her groceries with bleach. After one attempt, which led to despair – there is nothing like sitting on the kitchen floor, surrounded by groceries, with a bottle of bleach spray, crying, to bring the whole damn thing home – I gave up. I have made my peace with that reality and tried to be smart: masks and social distancing and washing my hands a lot and not having a social life, which, frankly, I didn’t have much of before the plague anyway. And so far, so good, or at least I think so good. I am on blood thinners, which makes me sort of high risk, but I’m not 60 yet nor will be for a few years, so I thought I was basically okay. Now, however, I am suddenly high risk and I must reassess.

This is complicated because my co-quarantiner, my son, has returned from several weeks of being not exactly the most quarantined person in Oregon. He had adventures and I’m glad for him, but not really glad enough to kick the bucket. He is back to help me out with the whole surgery thing but if he has brought covid with him, it is obviously not so good. So he needs to quarantine as well and take it seriously and I am not entirely sure this message is getting all the way through. It is difficult to get the message through when almost everything is open, the tourists are descending on us like locusts and the general feeling in this godsforsaken nation is that hey, plague time over, party time on! Or, as my son darkly just said, may the best immune system win.

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My sign, less artsy than some I have done but to the point. It got wet at the protest because Oregon. 

The US has apparently decided they are just going to let people die, which shouldn’t really be surprising, since it’s what they decided long ago about BIPOC (which, it turns out, does not mean Bi People of Color, but Black, Indigenous and People of Color, which I guess includes bi people of color, so, excellent.) We haven’t yet quite gotten to the point where people with covid are encouraged to die, but I won’t be shocked if we get there sooner rather than later. Too dark? Well, think about the BIPOC who are continuing to die every day at the hands of police while the protests are continuing. The USA is pretty goddamn dark right now. I can only take hope from the fact that the protests are continuing, that people have not yet given up. But as someone on Twitter pointed out, the protestors are pretty much the only people wearing masks right now. The people in bars, the people partying at the beaches – and the tourists are full force at Fort Stephens, it’s terrifying – and the people shopping their cares away are unmasked and uninterested in social distance. When Ross Dress for Less reopened I went to the health food store next door and looked on as Ross shoppers tossed their masks on the ground when they walked out. We are so screwed. I went to the new Grocery Outlet in Seaside when it opened on Thursday and masks? There were very, very few but high risk people? There were many. I give up.

Here in this tiny town, the protests are continuing but given my scary new status, I am sadly not going to be participating. This sucks so I will say, if you can protest, please do. Protest for me. I will get better and be back out there, I swear, but for the next three weeks at least, I’m doing what I’ve been doing plus some: staying home, walking the dogs at times and places where social distancing of about 300 yards is a given, and, uh, for a change, cleaning. Oh, and exploring the world of curbside grocery pickup.

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Home is where the plants and dogs are. 

 

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Plague Diary 10.5: Death Snitch of Benson Beach

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Benson Beach at Cape Disappointment in its usual postcard amazingness beauty. 

This has very little to do with Covid-19 OR with the waves of civil unrest currently sweeping the country. Therefore, I will keep it short and to the point: the dogs and I went to Benson Beach today, which is to say the beach at Cape Disappointment State Park (it was another amazingly beautiful day) and we saw a DEAD ELK. Fortunately, nobody rolled on or ate any of the dead elk.

OK! So, about 20 months ago when I first moved to this area, I lived for about 3 months in my tiny camper with two large dogs, a cat and eventually, my son, who slept in the back of the truck. It was a suboptimal situation. We moved back and forth between Fort Stevens, where you can stay up to two weeks at a time and Cape Disappointment, where you can stay up to three weeks at a time. And once we went to Newport and for the three days before the closing on this house we stayed at the KOA and swam in the heated pool like billionaires, but that is neither here nor there.

The thing that IS here or there is that the first time I found a dead seal on the beach on Cape Disappointment, I promptly reported it to the rangers. I felt that I was doing my civic duty of, um, exactly what I do not know. Look, I grew up near the Atlantic from Charleston to Connecticut and points in between and I never saw a dead seal before.  It seemed important, somehow. And I don’t know what I expected the Cape Disappointment rangers to do, hold a funeral? Conduct an autopsy? They looked at me in mild pacific northwest wonder and said, yeah, animals die. It happens. Then they waited and I waited and when it was awkwardly clear that that was it and nobody actually cared about the dead seal, I left.

Now that I have lived here on the coast of the Pacific for twenty entire months, I am a seasoned veteran of dead seals and dead sea lions and dead birds and once, a sturgeon and often, smaller fish, although not often enough, because I want to make more gyotaku prints. I have seen – and chatted with! – lots and lots of live elk. But I have never seen a dead elk on the beach or anywhere else. This elk, to my eye, looked quite recently dead. There was blood on her face. She had not been torn open. She was not covered with vultures. So after we had looked briefly at the elk – and took a picture yes, of course – and then went on the rest of our beach walk (on leash this time because JESUS, please, no more rolling in the dead things, I’m out of dog shampoo) I stopped by the ranger station and reported a dead elk.

“Yeah,” said the ranger, “We know, it washed up a couple days ago. Washed in and out, then up.” We looked at each other and I, at least, thought about that image. “Okay then!” I said brightly, “Washed up, huh!”

And I left, realizing that in my late middle age I have become the Dead Animal Snitch of Benson Beach. Dead animal? Got a dead animal on the beach? I’m telling the authorities, by Jove! I’m REPORTING IT.

oh god.

The thing is, though, I doubt his story. Washed up? From where? How would an elk wash up on an ocean beach? Elk don’t go surfing. Elk are not noted for their oceanic prowess. Where did it come from? And that elk was in pretty good shape for something that was washing around in the ocean for a couple days. Now, I grant you that I am not an elk pathologist and IN FACT all my experience with dead anything comes from reading way too many bad mystery novels but STILL. And also granted the ranger had no reason to lie, I mean, none. But STILL. I do not really think there is an elk murderer running loose and being covered up at Cape Disappointment. BUT. Who knows, eh? Who really knows?

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OK look this is about as tasteful as a photo of a dead elk on the beach can get. 

 

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Plague Diary 10: I Am Not Hopeful

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the shining city on a hill where I live, which, like the rest of this country, needs to examine and fix its own institutionalized racism. 

Over the course of the last few days, I, like most Americans, have been watching in despair as Minneapolis – and Atlanta, LA, NYC, etc., everywhere – burns. If you know me at all you know that my sympathies are wholly and utterly with the protesters, with Black Lives Matter, because they do, and with all of us who are angry and poor and suffering and dying in what I suspect are the death throes of the fever dream that was the USA. Turns out you can have all the noble ideals in the world but you can’t build a shining city on a hill when the hill is made of POC bodies and oppression.

We’ve had a lot of chances to fix this over the years and we’ve fucked every single one of them up until we finally got to now, when we have an openly racist grifter in the White House egging the violent police on against journalists and POC. There is nothing I can say, really: as a white woman in a small rural enclave far from the riots I am pretty useless. I could send money, but I don’t have any; I could drive to Portland and be useless there, which seems counterproductive – I am in the land of thoughts and prayers and we all know just how helpful they are. So all I can do or say is, well, this is overdue and I hope some justice comes from it but I am not hopeful; I wish I was. In a small action I will virtually march with Rev. Dr. Barber and the Poor People’s Campaign on June 20 and I hope you will join me, even though, again, I am not hopeful.

I am very conscious of my own privilege right now: I live in what I think is probably the

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Everybody deserves a patio and a place to snooze in the sunshine. 

most beautiful place in the country if not the world and all through these days of plague I have been able to leave my house and walk along the ocean or the river or into the woods. I’m poor now but I have been rich in the past and even my poverty is not so bad: I have a house, I have furniture and food and even healthcare (OK I haven’t paid any of the bills and I don’t know how I’m going to do that, but I was able to access it when I needed it) and all of this is mine only because I was born an upper middle class white child in the 1960s in the USA. That’s it, that’s all, that’s really the whole reason I live pretty comfortably in a place I want to live now. Luck of the draw, just as my access to decent education and good housing and so on is also luck of the fucking draw. It is important to recognize that and to try to use that privilege so that everyone, everyone has the same: a place they love, a home, food to eat, healthcare. Human rights should not be assigned to only a few at birth.

 

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In other news apparently the plague is over. Wow! And all it took were thoughts and prayers! Isn’t that special! Add that to my list of things I am not hopeful about: I somehow do not think that the coronavirus has gone away just because Americans got tired of staying home. But everyone is saying that it is gone and certainly acting as if it is gone, so I suppose it is gone. Just a bad dream! Just another little plot twist from 2020, the most interesting of times! I do not know if it is gone or not but I do know I’m still wearing a mask at Fred Meyer and that’s not just because I got a couple of quite chic ones with galaxies on them from Etsy.

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Cape Disappointment! 

In local news, another beach has opened up: Cape Disappointment is now open. I took the dogs there last Wednesday on an utterly beautiful day and it was perfect: sun, sand, waves and no people anywhere. Only bones. Those bones – on the left, below – at least were sun polished and mostly bare (I thought about taking one but quailed at the logistics, which would include touching them because ewww and also I do not carry a bone saw, I am so useless) but the bones from yesterday – on the right, like you couldn’t figure that out, ewwwwww – at Sunset Beach were still covered with, uh, alien flesh and horrible bits of fur. Harvey naturally found that corpse of whatever the hell it was before I did and got a couple of good rolls in. Whoo hoo! I covered this on Twitter and on Instagram but let me just say again that the smell was really quite indescribable and it is not, alas, quite gone. After all the excitement of yesterday morning it rained all afternoon and both the dogs slept all day, which is probably why Harvey started bouncing around at about 10 pm. He had horrible gas – I could hear his stomach from across the room – and he was whining so my anxiety decided he had been poisoned by the Dead Thing and was dying. I mean, what else could it be? And that’s why I gave him activated charcoal at midnight, which, thank the gods, doesn’t seem to have had any effect on him whatsoever: he’s fine and I am tired.

My camera is broken and I can’t even think about that, so I’m not. My desktop computer is in the shop – I am writing this on the laptop, which is fine but sloooooooow. I still don’t have an oven but! I do have a sourdough starter. Yes, I jumped on the bandwagon and I am about 9 days in of making my own starter outdoors. It smells amazing in a good way and I have named it The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but I call it The for short. I am looking forward to baking a small loaf of sourdough bread in the toaster oven with it sometime soon. And this week I get to find out when my gallbladder will go away, so that is all good news, to end on a precarious high note. I hope you and yours, whoever you are, are all well and that we weather these storms and come out stronger. Unfortunately I am not, well, very hopeful.

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Plague Diary 9: Layoff

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Clouds on the horizon! Happy clouds or scary clouds? Who knows! The symbolism, it is heavyhanded here.

Well, my employer and I have negotiated a parting of the ways. It was a mutual decision, an acknowledgement that a Volunteer & Event Coordinator is not exactly a crucial, essential position in Pandemic World, where there are no events and there are no volunteers. I am both sort of excited: hey look! I too am participating in the 2nd Great Depression! Also I will finally have time to putter around the house to my heart’s content! Which is a LOT of puttering! and abject fear: well, I’ll probably never get another job which means I will end up pushing a shopping cart piled with trash bags through ruined streets lit by trash fires forever. In the short term, however, before the trash fires and the haunted empty windows and the shopping cart, I may be in better shape than I was before. The CARES act extra unemployment (they are paying us, I suspect, to keep us from rioting and part of me wishes it wasn’t working) will add up to more than I was making working almost full time – at least through the end of July – and with a little luck from the social services gods, I may be able to get on the Oregon Health Plan. That, the closest thing this benighted country has to civilized healthcare, will probably pay for my upcoming gall bladder surgery and the tests that I still need to figure out just why the hell exactly I ended up in the ER in late February with a pulmonary embolism for which I had no risk factors at all.

On Monday I am having a telehealth conference with my doctor – oh brave new world that has such, um, telephones in it! – and at that point I will gingerly bring up the possibility that this crazy fucking virus has been known to cause sudden inexplicable blood clots and my entire office was sick as hell through mid February with at least one colleague with pneumonia and, huh. Probably he will laugh it off or maybe not. Either way it doesn’t matter, because as usual there are no tests – no antibody tests, anyway – and all the tests we do have are notoriously unreliable. Also, they are not free. The county is now holding drive through testing at the city dump (ha ha! The new world, it delivers such jokes!) but, while the administration of the test (a harried CNA with a long swab, I suspect, making $12 an hour and no benefits, but essential) is free, the processing of it (AKA the lab fees) is not. So if you do not have insurance, or if you have the kind of jesus christ don’t you people know the meaning of shame insurance I do, it might or, as we like to say, probably won’t, be covered. This must be why they’re doing it at the dump – if you’re poor you can just jump on the trashpile and save the gravediggers the trouble.

As many more serious and eloquent people have now pointed out, the entire REASON for

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America! Fuck yeah! This bird would be a much better president than Trumpacabra!

the last two months of all of us staying home, going slowly stir crazy – my son just WASHED THE DOG without prompting; look for the silver linings and ignore the 2″ of water in the bathroom is our current national slogan – was so the country could create a plan, make tests, make PPE (that’s personal protective equipment, an abbreviation nobody knew just 2 1/2 short and vastly long months ago) and so on. Well. Of course none of that has happened and Cheeto Benito in the White House just gets crazier and crazier, accountability falls by the wayside, the states form coalitions or don’t, the governors are on their own and a bunch of racist Nazi MAGA assholes from hell or Vancouver, WA, whichever, are due to descend on Seaside, Oregon – aka the next town down – tomorrow to protest the closed beaches which are reopening on Monday.

It is difficult to convey the actual rate of crazy nowadays! I don’t really know who I am writing this blog for – in a fit of hubris I shared the URL with my now ex coworkers yesterday, so, uh, hey – but most of the time I think it is just for some undefined posterity. The world has gone insane and it seems as if I should chronicle that for my nonexistent grandchildren or some monk in a Canticle for Leibowitz type scenario in 800 years.

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Look at that dignified matron. You would not believe she could do anything wrong, would you?

We are supposed to be in Stage One of Reopening starting, uh, today. Certainly there is more traffic and the really good Mexican restaurant down the street seems to be open, but otherwise I am not sure exactly what that means. Granted I have only left the house to spend the morning at the beach with Harvey. Perdita did not get to come along because yesterday evening, when we went to the beach so I could drink a gin and tonic while walking along the ocean and committing my last job to the waves – goodbye, office! Goodbye, the great things I was planning and the bitter taste of my own failures! Goodbye, all that work shit that sits in the back of your head muttering! – Perdita took off for 45 entire minutes and just when I had given her up for dead she reappeared literally and liberally coated with elk shit from head to toe. She is more than 12 years old and one would expect more decorum. Therefore she did not go on any walks today. I know she doesn’t get the connection but it makes me feel better and also, after her wanderjahr she was limping badly, so she needed a day of rest.

That was Friday and now it is Saturday. Day 61! Last night I made vegan pesto – which is really really good, this is the recipe, the nutritional yeast is not optional – and potato salad with fat free mayonnaise and tabbouleh with half the oil the box requests and it was all extremely yum. I am thinking about putting together a cookbook tentatively titled “So Your Gallbladder Doesn’t Work.” This morning I made strawberry pancakes and the leftover strawberries are simmering away on the stove, turning into syrup or jam, depending on how long I leave them there. Maybe later there will be cake. Or not.

I went looking back through my pictures because #lastnormalpicture is trending on twitter and I was a little dismayed but not surprised to find that my pictures have not changed in these 61 days. Empty beaches with distant tiny people: yup, got it covered. Here for all your empty beach needs!

I have new masks. I finally got the one I ordered from Threadless and I got the gaiter mask with skeletons and guillotines on it that I ordered. I love it. The gaiter masks are by far the most comfortable – so comfortable that it almost feels like cheating, like, are you really doing your part if your ears aren’t bleeding? Unfortunately it was expensive so I can only have the one, which means I should be washing it all the time and, honestly? Not going to happen. I have good intentions but when we get right down to it I am bone lazy and washing things is a big pain in the ass. But I have it, I have worn it to Fred Meyer, where, by the way, as in all supermarkets across this nation of ours, grocery prices have had their steepest rise in 50 years. That is FIFTY fucking YEARS. As usual this is getting little to no coverage because it would mean admitting that people are poor and grocery prices matter and we cannot do that, we are all eternally rich and we laugh at such minor details. It’s a problem for the poors, alright! Over to Kathy with the weather.

And that’s all I got, right now. Day 61 since the world changed! Here we go, once more into the breach, I guess.

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PS I burned the strawberry jam.

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Plague Diary 8: Birthday

IMG_4015Yesterday was my birthday. I took a couple days off – staycation! All the cations are stay now, no more vay. Ordinarily I would go out to dinner or go out drinking or, you know, ideally both! But of course here we are, day 48 or whatever it is, and nobody is going nowhere. Which is fine with me, honestly, because we suddenly shot from 7 cases in this county to 18 and I do not want to be number 19. The national drumbeat of open up! open up! Kill your grandma for capitalism! is increasingly loud – but I am not listening. I am not alone in not listening either; polls and so on keep right on showing that most people are in fact sane and do not want to reopen the country just yet, as people are dying in record numbers. But the attention all goes to the lunatic few. I don’t know. This country is at this point I think irreparably broken and I have no solutions. Well, I do, actually: a Green New Deal, medicare for all, tax the rich until they scream for mercy, break up big tech, stop giving corporations a voice, universal basic income, free college and so on. The usual progressive laundry list which would, you know, work. But I don’t think any of it is likely to be enacted soon. I don’t know what will happen. But I seriously think (and have for some years, although my belief gets stronger all the time) that I may well outlive the USA as a country. And I am not young. This is one of the reasons I moved to the Pacific northwest and while I try to downplay that, since I know it sounds bonkers, and also it is just one of many reasons, still, there it is: I think the country will break apart soon. I don’t know how. I don’t know what will happen, but I do not think we can go on like this – divided, antagonistic and nobody at the wheel except a third rate crime family doing their best to sell off the Republic for scrap – much longer.

20200504_135222-01Downer Debbie! I will stop! Yesterday I had a fight with my son in which he accused me of being too negative, which is to say, good lord, hello pot, kettle, etc. But he was right. We had planned to celebrate my birthday by cooking out on the beach. In Oregon, you see, you can not only drive on the beach, you can have fires on it. It’s crazy! To an east coaster such as myself it feels just shocking, that the beach is not hemmed about with rules and regulations. But then there are a lot less people here than there are in the east. Thank the gods. Anyway, we had these plans but then we, or rather I, got off to a slow start yesterday, partly because I was opening my birthday presents from my daughter while on the phone with my daughter. She sent me a big box full of wonderful stuff!  Including this fantastic T-shirt, which says Collards and Cornbread (I want my daughter to move here. She wants me to return to North Carolina. We are both really stubborn so we keep sending each other passive aggressive gifts like this one 😀 ) and a magnet that says Cherie Berry Lifts Me Up, which you will understand if you are from NC,** and socks with pickles on them and, wonder of wonders, the horribly grotty but much beloved blank book cookbook that I have been writing recipes down in for the past decade or so. I left it with her but decided I needed it back and here it is, hurrah!

Then I puttered around in the courtyard, which is coming along. I got the little flower garden in the center of the yard all cleaned out and mostly planted on Sunday and my butt is still killing me. Yesterday it was much worse and just another reason I was moving a little more slowly than usual and also being, okay, a bit more cantankerous than usual. Then I decided I was making a swiss roll cake, despite never having made one before and by god I was making the jam for it too.* At any rate, the hour grew later and later and the sky grew darker and darker. I had by this time decided I didn’t really want to go anyway but at the same time I did. That is the danger for me in social distancing and staying at home: I like it too much. I like it so much that it starts to get really hard for me to leave the house at all and when I do, I get scared. Agoraphobia! Fear of the marketplace and nowadays, yeah, the marketplace is in fact terrifying.

Despite the threatening weather and my moaning, we loaded the truck and set out, me kvetching all the way. The rain started coming down. Now the20200504_190057 coast of Oregon is really not unlike the mountains of Western North Carolina in that weather often tends to be highly localized, as in, don’t like the weather? Drive for five minutes. This time that trick, well, didn’t work so much. It was also raining at the beach. We stopped for charcoal and gas and a few other things, which felt just wrong, simply dropping by the supermarket for less than two weeks worth of stuff, but, okay, needs must. Somehow, in all this, we forgot matches or a lighter and this small fact did not come to light until we had not just gotten to the beach but driven down it some considerable way. I pitched, at this point, a small fit. This sucks, I said, or words to that effect, and it is cold, and windy, and raining, and I have to drive so I can’t even drink too much, and I don’t want to sit outside on the beach in the cold wind and rain. I don’t want to drive back to Wal Mart and then back. Waaaaah, I said. This, said my son, is the Pacific Northwest you wanted to move to, and if you stop being so negative you will see that it is beautiful and that this is great.

20200504_192115-01And he was right. It didn’t take very long to go get a lighter. When we got back, there was a heron! Wading in the surf! And a tiny bit of sunset crept through the clouds. The rain came off and on and yes, I was soaked, but then I took off my wet raincoat and my wet hoodie and put on the ski sweater that I am so glad lives in the truck and it was fine. The dogs had a wonderful time, even Perdita who hates the rain but was delighted to have the truck right there to jump into whenever it started coming down again. Harvey was a very very good boy; the grilled chicken was amazing (somehow I am slowly getting less vegetarian lately, still 90% though) the grilled veggies were amazing; everything was totally beautiful and we had a lovely time. Then we came on home in the dark and then today everyone, including the dogs, has been just wiped out tired and that’s been okay too. It was a really good birthday.

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  • * the cake was horrible. Like, inedible horrible. Like tennis shoes horrible. The jam, however, was fantastic.
  • ** Cherie Berry was for decades the secretary of something or other, in NC. Somehow her job entailed inspecting all the elevators in the entire state, or, well, I don’t think she personally inspected all of them, but at any rate in every elevator in North Carolina there is a certificate of safety inspection and on that certificate is a little picture of Cherie Berry and her signature. So every time you ride the elevator, if you are me, you read the certificate and look at Cherie Berry because really, what else is there to do in an elevator?
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