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.


  • * 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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