Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving in the year of the virus


Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Despite the current situation, we do all have plenty to be thankful for. Number 1 on my list is Trump did not get re-elected.

We didn't do Thanksgiving at my house growing up. My mother said she wasn't doing all that food if she just had to do it again a month later for Christmas. The irony is that I don't ever remember her cooking our Christmas dinner, the maid did and another couple (who had their dinner on Christmas Day) came and served it and cleaned up afterwards, though she must have early on I suppose, and then when I was 12 my parents bought a lot in Sea Isle on Galveston's west end and built a beach house and forever after Thanksgiving weekend was spent there along with every other weekend and summers until I grew up and left home. After I married and the kids were young we would go to Marc's mother's house for a very laid back casual Thanksgiving except for the times we hosted it all formal like (had to use all that china and silver sometime) and even later as we all got older it became a smaller more casual affair at our house or later still when Sarah and her family were living next door, at her house or both houses. After our son got married the first time he abandoned us for his in-laws big gathering, the only time he got to see some of them whom he liked. We even joined them one year. Later still our son and his new real wife hosted Thanksgiving their first year of marriage, their one and only time to do that. After we bought the country house we would have it mostly out here. Since 2014 when we sold our city property and Sarah and her family moved into a bigger house she has been hosting it in the city. Until this year. Sarah and Mike moved out here on their land last January into a small manufactured home and so Thanksgiving was once again going to be moved to our house and then the virus hit.

Because Zoom Thanksgiving is better than ICU Christmas, the plan was that we would each still do our part of the cooking and share but eat at our respective homes. The grandgirls were coming in from three different cities (the grandboy going to Arkansas with his girlfriend) and even though they are all very careful, not going out and wearing masks when they do, we opted to follow the advice of the health care professionals. It's just one year after all out of many and considering the sacrifices and rationing our parents' and grandparents' generation endured during WWII to ensure that the war effort had all they needed, it seems a small effort to skip the big family gathering in order to insure that we are all here next year.

That was the plan. And then Sarah texted on Tuesday that one of her asymptomatic co-workers tested positive. The co-worker's father was planning to come in so she and her brother went and got tested just in case and, surprise!, she tested positive. My daughter got tested Wednesday morning but won't have the results for 2 – 4 days. Two of the grandgirls have opted to stay home, last minute ideas were tossed around but ultimately we decided not to do the massive amount of cooking and just skip that whole thing. Well, not skip the whole thing, Sarah got a turkey breast and is fixing small amounts of the traditional meal for her and Mike and Autumn. Marc and I are blowing it off altogether. We will have a meal, just the two of us, it just won't be turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, etc. but there will be dessert, that is if I get in the kitchen and make it.

We have no idea how long her co-worker was at work shedding virus. There's only 9 of them, all feeling well, all wearing masks at work, disinfecting surfaces every day, the building has an excellent ventilation system because of all the machines. Sarah has been going to yoga with us and a week ago last Wednesday was the last time she was in close quarters in the car with Pam and I, no masks. Both Pam and I feel fine and surely a week is long enough for us to feel ill if Sarah was shedding virus then and exposed us. Regardless, I cautioned all the neighbors I encountered when I walked the dog yesterday to stay far back while we chatted. Sarah feels confident her test will come back negative but even so the family decided to act as if she is positive. If her test does come back positive, then I'll get tested but like her, I don't think I've been infected. So for now it's just a wait and see.

From Thanksgivings past...

2018

2013

2016

2014

2017

2017

(Don't know what the fuck is up with blogger but it would not accept the first two years in my chosen font no matter how many times I tried to fix it.)




Tuesday, November 24, 2020

another leak, a craft show, a transition


My sister texted me at 8 AM Sunday morning...I think there's a leak at the water meter. That's how my day began. This is how it went...

weeded a flower bed, dug out the wet dirt in front of the water meter over at the shop to expose the new connection which ties in the water line to Pam's house and it is indeed seeping, turned the wheelbarrow of leaf mulch into the weeded flower bed, pruned the rose back some next to the same flower bed, picked up all the debris from weeding, pruning, and the pile of sticks accumulating in the little backyard, watered the little backyard, added water to the turtle tank and cleaned the filter basket on the pump, eradicated the ants in the flower bed I want to plant the pansies in, raked out about 60% of many years of leaf accumulation in the barn, bathed and walked the dog, washed Minnie's bed and blanket, swept the floor in the studio room in the house

...and then finally called it quits. It was just such a nice day to be outside Sunday and all the work wasn't too strenuous.

Yesterday morning started out with a call to the plumber. Basically, he just completely replaced all the work he had done to splice in the water line to Pam's house. I think I got it this time, Gunnar said. Third time's the charm, right?, I said. Let's hope so, he said.


As mentioned in my last post, Pam and I went to the first Holiday Market sponsored by Hesed House at Guffy Park(ing lot) late Saturday afternoon/early evening. Everyone refers to this spot as a park but really, it's just a parking lot behind a row of building right off the town Square, left over from more prosperous days pre-Walmart. The goods on offer were small town crafts with a few highlights here and there. The first being that we ran into my daughter and son-in-law so that was fun.

Stephanie from Hesed House


I thought these puzzles were clever


iced cookies


plants from the local wholesale nursery


kittens! the sweetie on the left looks like my Emma only she's gray instead of brown


Mexican pastries


handmade goat's milk soap, low inventory because they had had a good morning at the Farmer's Market and another show last weekend


took me a minute to figure out what these were...bottle openers



Got home from yoga last night (yay, Abby's back!) to find out that Emily Murphy finally authorized Biden's transition after enough states certified their elections to give Biden the minimum 270 electoral votes for victory though he will get over 300 when it's all said and done. This is likely the only concession Trump will give, allowing the transition to proceed. Now we wait to see how much more damage he will do before January 20. He's pulled us from the denuclearization Open Skies treaty and plans to have the observation planes scrapped making it extremely difficult for Biden to rejoin. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is also planning some dirty tricks to prevent Biden from using funds for a stimulus. These next two months are going to take forever but we will eventually be rid of Trump and his sycophants and their petty vindictiveness. It remains to be seen what will become of the Republican Party after his exit. Will they continue to support him as many people seem to think Trump will make good on his claims of running again in 2024 and his family's attempt to take over control of the GOP or will they drop the charade of their support as long as he was president. If the party splits like Heather Cox Richardson suggests, they may well lose their influence over national politics. We'll see. 




Saturday, November 21, 2020

more of the same

 
And the poison ivy has started breaking out. On my wrists, the base of my thumbs (from pulling my gloves off and on), a little on the backs of my hands, and even a little just above my knees where my jeans had tears in them. In other words all barely exposed parts of my body with the exception of my face. Not bad terrible outbreaks but itchy even so. I'm thinking now I'm going to put that pile of roots in the wheelbarrow and dump it on the far side of the field.

Yesterday after a leisurely morning catching up on blogs I raked the mountain of leaves off the concrete apron of the driveway (and the trees still have plenty of leaves they haven't discarded yet) moving some to the low spot under the magnolia and the rest to the low spot on the side of the house that gets standing water every time it rains hard. The idea is that doing this year after year eventually the ground level will rise though probably not in my lifetime. Then I got the flat square blade shovel and scooped up all the decayed leaf mulch that accumulates, once again exposing the edge of the concrete, 


and filled the wheel barrow with that to transfer to one of the flower beds to improve the soil. 


The only problem with that is that it's probably full of weed seeds as well. We'll see. Maybe next time I'll dump it in one of the low spots in the yard.

Having achieved hot and sweaty, I came in and made a blueberry crostata 


and then washed all the accumulated dishes and called myself done for the day. Later I did a group text to daughter and grandkids. I've decided to get rid of some of the camping gear from the river days starting with the down mummy bags. At this point in my life I don't think we will ever use any of it again so I sent out the text and before I could even get my phone set down on the table Jade responded with a claim. She and her SO have started going camping so I'm going to throw in the roll up table as well.

The heat and humidity have returned. I'm currently sitting here in shorts, tank top, and barefoot. I ran up to the feed store this morning and got 5 six packs, 3 of pansies and 2 of violas which I plan to get in the ground today or tomorrow. 


I say today or tomorrow because the floors are starting to reach critical mass and Pam and I are going to the little holiday market this afternoon sponsored by Hesed House (we did and more about that next post).

Before that, though, and after breakfast I cleaned the black baked on crud off the stove top under the trays under the burners of the front two burners. Suffice to say that the job involved Simple Green cleaner, a Scotch scrubby pad, a steel wool SOS pad, and finally a putty knife. The back two can wait until the next  time.

I've been trying not to pay too much attention to Trump's refusal to concede, his ridiculous lawsuits that keep getting thrown out, and the near complete silence from the Republican party about this attack on our democratic process which as far as I'm concerned further delegitimizes republicans. They can't won't stand up for this country or speak out against (with very few exceptions) this brazen lawless attempt by Trump to subvert the election with a very clear winner and have himself declared president by trying to get the swing states he lost to appoint republican electors, an illegal act, that will vote for Trump instead of the states' majority vote winner. So far this gambit has failed. The two republican lawmakers from Michigan whom he summoned to the White House to get their marching orders declined to play. While they may be willing to lie for Trump, they aren't willing to go to jail for Trump. Still he has a few sycophants willing to do his dirty work like Emily Murphy who refuses to sign the document that would allow Biden to begin his transition which puts America behind the 8-ball and jeopardizes our national security and then there is his hoard of cultists who send death threats to anyone and their families as well who speaks out against Trump or refuses to do his bidding as those few republicans like the Georgia Secretary of State is finding out. Democrats were already well aware. And then this...a reporter went among Texan militias and found out that they are just waiting for Trump to call on them to come and wage war against the government. Somehow I don't think it will end well for them if they do try it.

And all of this for what? Because Trump wants to be president and do the work of being president? He does not. He hates the job. He hates the restrictions. He hasn't 'presidented' since the election besides firing people he considers not loyal enough. He's doing this for two reasons. One, he is and has always been a vindictive asshole and so he is punishing those of us who didn't vote for him and wants to cripple Biden before he even gets inaugurated, and two, he knows he is facing legal actions and he's broke and will no longer have access to the national treasury.

Bottom line though...if Joe Biden isn't worried, I'm not worried.



Thursday, November 19, 2020

yoga, poison ivy, before and after


Since Abby's husband tested positive but she and the kids tested negative, Abby has been quarantining nevertheless and so I led the yoga classes this week and last Wednesday. It's a completely different experience. I go to class so that I don't have to decide what asanas (poses) to do, not having to decide is also why my morning routine is always the same. Not only do I have to decide which asanas to do, I have to instruct the proper positioning. Granted, most everyone who comes has been coming for years and knows the poses but it's still a good idea to remind. This week, instead of flying by the seat of my pants, I did an internet search for vinyasas (a series of asanas that 'flow' one into the other or that serve to focus on a particular goal) which made it a little less stressful. I'll be glad when Abby comes back next week.

vinyasa for releasing lower back tension via www.jasonyoga.com

I only did one section of fence Tuesday because while it wasn't very brushy along the fence, it was a section with a lot of poison ivy and while I had sprayed it with poison (ha! poison the poison) and the foliage was mostly dead, the bottom and sides of the ditch were thick with roots which I'm sure were not dead and they were tough to get pulled up and out. So even with long sleeves and gloves and coming in after and scrubbing my wrists that were often exposed I'm wondering if I'm going to break out a little. Not sure what to do with the pile of roots. 

The burn pile is the obvious option but I'll have to be indoors when it gets burned or at least across the street. Or I could dump them far into the field behind me which would be easy right now since they just recently mowed and baled the hay. Or I could bag it up for the dump but I hate to dump compostable trash in the landfill. I'll probably just dump it on the burn pile.

Here's the before and after pics of my haircut. It's a little different cut than the previous stylist does but the end result is basically the same, out of my face and off my neck though I hadn't meant to have it quite this short this time of year but I had showed her two pictures of days when it looked particularly good and this is what I got. I like it and will go back to her again. So, before...thin long and lank and makes me look old (well, yes I am old and no, I don't color my hair and yes, there is gray streaked through it),


and after...it will be a lot curlier when the humidity returns.


I did my grocery run yesterday and the cashier was just about done checking my stuff when I reached around to my back pocket to get my wallet and it wasn't there. Oh great, I left it at home but she was really nice about it, no problem, we'll hold your groceries til you get back, so a fast mad dash home and back. Actually, that's the second time I've done that.

Re the flies, I know where they came from, just don't know how that many got in the house. We have two big yew trees, one on each corner of the front of the house and their berries have dropped and are moldering on the ground and the flies have been having a fucking convention out there, like an annual gathering of the tribes so that the younguns can find a mate. I don't ever remember this happening before but the flies are gone now replaced by these teeny tiny red bugs about the size of the head of a pin.


No further work has been done on the ditch, on my wax model, or on my Square store but I did spend 4 hours up at SHARE today. They decided not to change decisions made at the previous meeting and opened today to the public as a trial run and masks are now mandatory for everyone in the building which I was glad to see as most of the volunteers did not routinely wear one though I always have.

No catchy ending to wrap it up but the camellia started blooming so I'll leave you with that.




Tuesday, November 17, 2020

just another day or two in the life

 
Another warm hot and humid day Saturday and while I didn't get over to the shop on Friday I did on Saturday for a couple of hours. Poured another wax log since the first one had little bits of wood imbedded in it that transferred from the latex mold the first time but I didn't like this one any better for a different reason so I'm going to try again. Third time's the charm, right? And I mixed up the pink and white modeling glass and rehydrated the mink (sort of a pale pinkish brown kind of like some of the tones in the picture below) that I'm going to need for this piece. I think anyway. I'm not satisfied with the test colors I already did for the lichen. I know, shop talk.

the evening sky last Saturday

The other thing I did on Saturday was wage war on the flies in the house. There must have been 100. Well, not a hundred, 75. OK, probably not 75 but at least 50. I do think I got them all chasing them around from window to window and then I had to clean all the windows and window sills of fly guts. I don't know how that many got in the house. I do keep the back door open when the weather is nice and there isn't a screen but this isn't something I've just started doing. We've never had 50 fucking flies in the house like this. It was sort of like that horror movie where the family moves into a house and there's one room that is always infested with flies no matter how many times they kill them.

Saturday was also our Farmer's Market, the fall version. It runs six or eight weeks in the spring and fall and was dying a slow death when someone took it over I guess, moved it back to a previous location and there have been many more booths. So far this fall, no fresh produce. People have planted their fall gardens but it's still too soon for any harvest so it's crafty stuff and baked and canned goods basically. We usually go for homemade tamales (sold out by the time we got there Saturday) and honey. I was trading a clean quart jar for an empty large squeeze bottle. I buy local honey in the quart jars but didn't have anything more user friendly for dispensing. We also return the canning jars to the lady we buy our pickles from and she gives us a dollar off. I haven't seen the noodle people so far who I buy homemade noodles from.

Sunday we finally got a cool front in that lowered the temperature and humidity instead of just lowering the humidity and so I got out in the ditch and did two more sections of the front fence, just six more to go. 

Then I bathed the dog, clipped her toenails, and poured another wax log.

Yesterday, two more fence sections where I rousted out this little garden snake.

Now just four more to go but the dead debris on those is sparse enough to only amount to two mildly dense sections. I might get it all done today but maybe not. I did pull the third wax log out of the mold and it was even less satisfactory because the cheapo latex mold I made to use just one time is continuing to deteriorate and mis-shape so I picked all the tiny wood bits out of the first one.

section of oak branch, mold, and wax model

Last Thursday, the morning of my supposed dermatologist appointment so I wasn't there that day, my neighbor told me they decided to have another meeting at SHARE this morning to revisit the decision to re-open December 1st. It sort of slipped my mind this morning and I didn't get up and moving soon enough to get out the door in time so, not going. I trust they'll make the right decision without me. Besides, I'm getting my hair cut later this morning.

My hair has not been this long in decades since I missed my spring cut (you might remember I only get one haircut a year, sometimes two), it's thin and lank and always in my face so it has to be pulled back in a bun or ponytail. I'm going to a new stylist, the one my sister goes to. I'm not dissatisfied with the cuts I've been getting from the woman I usually go to but she talks non-stop with a long litany of one complaint after another.

Signing off with this monarch I found sitting in the street while walking the dog the other evening. It looked newly hatched, it's colors vibrant. I carried it over to a neighbor's flower bed and left it there.





Sunday, November 15, 2020

week 34 and week 35



 The NYT reports that a study by the CDC found that symptomatic pregnant women were more likely to develop complications and die from covid than non pregnant women.

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Whole genome sequencing of SARS-COV-2 in the Netherlands on mink farms has revealed virus transmission from humans to minks and back to humans. 

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New research shows that 20% of those that recover from the coronavirus develop some form of mental illness...a psychiatric disorder, dementia, anxiety or insomnia...within two weeks to three months of testing positive. 

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Pfizer announced Nov. 9th that its vaccine in its latest trial looked to be 90% effective but there is still a lot they don't know like how long the immunity lasts, if it's as effective on older people as younger, if it will be effective if/when the virus mutates. Trials continue but once approved by the FDA it will still be April next year before it would be available to the general public. Trump, of course, took credit for the rapid development claiming it was part of his Operation Warp Speed vaccine development. Pfizer immediately denied Trump's claim. They do have a $1.95 Billion deal but it's an advance purchase agreement and Pfizer won't get paid until they deliver a vaccine. Pfizer took no money from Trump's administration to develop the vaccine. 

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The virus is expanding exponentially since the election and the US has seen new infections over 100,000 a day, each day higher than the day before (181,000 on Friday the 13th), soon to break over 200,000 a day at this trajectory, deaths have also been over a thousand every day since the election with an increase over the day before. Hospitals are nearing capacity with some cities like El Paso TX completely overwhelmed with a 20+% positivity rate. Trump's response? Nada, zero, zilch, not even lip service while Republicans in the White House and some state legislatures try to hide their infections purposely exposing Democrats across the aisle. On the other hand, President-elect Biden has put together an excellent pandemic team full of scientists and doctors and is developing a national response but we will have to wait til he's sworn in before they can get to work.

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The CDC now says that masks not only protect others, but protect the wearers as well. Can I get a big DUH!

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From Heather Cox Richardson's newsletter for today...”He (Trump) has not gone to a coronavirus task force meeting in at least five months, rarely reads the daily reports on the virus, and is no longer briefed about the crisis by doctors. He has apparently decided simply to let the conflagration burn. At the same time, he is refusing to let his staffers talk to incoming Biden staff about the pandemic.” 

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Texas and California each have over 1 million total infections.

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General wisdom gathered from doctors and nurses who tweet...some deniers who think covid is a hoax but sick with it enough to be in the hospital scream at them that it's just the flu and why are they dressed like that all the way up to when they are intubated; our health care professionals are exhausted; the virus is transmitted more by the aerosols in your exhale than the big droplets and the small ones don't fall to the ground but disperse into the air where they accumulate and 6' apart in an enclosed space will not protect an unmasked you; their pleas for help from the federal government fall on deaf ears; stay home because you won't like the ICU if they have any beds and if you think wearing a mask makes it hard to breathe you really won't like intubation; they don't want you to clap or honk in appreciation at some appointed hour, they want you to wear a mask and stay away from crowded places.

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Covid is rampant. Stay home, wear a mask when you do go out, keep your distance, do not attend group functions, limit your time in enclosed buildings, wash your hands, and seriously, tell your kids not to travel home for Thanksgiving or Christmas and if you do gather make it small and short. Visit via FaceTime or Zoom. One infected person went to a wedding in Maine with 55 attendees which resulted in 177 new infections and 7 deaths. None of the people who died attended the wedding. There is light at the end of the tunnel but we still have to get there.

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Current US statistics as of today 11/15/20, 16:35 GMT: cases – 11,237,159; deaths – 251,287.



Friday, November 13, 2020

aggravation and (no) motivation


It was raining this morning, a nice steady rain that we need though it's stopped now. The cat was not convinced that it was raining enough to be inside but I wouldn't let her lay out in the rain so she settled for laying on top of some of my paperwork.


So a nice laid back morning catching up on y'all's posts.

Yesterday morning though was anything but laid back. I had a 9:30 appointment with the dermatologist in El Campo 15 minutes down the road. About 3 months ago I contacted my primary care doc's office for a referral to the dermatologist. I had been to her years ago before Medicare and I was happy enough with her care but she's gone in the direction of skin care products and non-surgical procedures to reverse the effects of aging. I went to the other dermatologist in El Campo (none in Wharton) but he has since retired. So back to making an appointment. I checked my insurance to make sure she was in my network (yes), called my PCP for a referral and when they notified me it had been sent, I called for an appointment and the soonest I could get in was 2 1/2 months. So fast forward to yesterday when I showed up for my appointment and handed over my insurance card...oh, the office lady said, we don't take insurance from HMOs (despite my insurance company's web site telling me she was in the network) and you need a referral she says. Told her I had a referral and she had it when I made the appointment. Oh, she says, that referral expired. WTF?! An immediate frustrated and angry call to the insurance customer service line revealed that the doc is in my network but they can't make her take my particular HMO policy (they have others that are not HMO) and yes I would need a new referral and do you have the number of your PCP because this number is no good. Aaaargh! I finally told both parties never mind, I'd deal with it when I got home. Fine. I didn't want to go see that dermatologist in the first place.

So long story short, I called the old number (they recently closed the offices in Wharton and moved to Sugar Land 35 minutes down the road), got transferred to the new number, made an appointment for my annual physical and requested a referral to a dermatologist in Rosenberg 30 minutes down the road who does take my insurance (I called and checked) and whose lead time is only a couple of weeks and he's a good looking youngish man (anybody younger than 70 is youngish to me) instead of a woman whose main concern is fending off the visible effects of aging.

The rest of my day was just as unsatisfying. I went over to the shop determined to start on some new work and did spend a couple of hours repairing the toes on a wax lizard and thinking about how to proceed with this piece which the plan is to use both the glass casting and the modeling glass and I just didn't get very far. It's been so long since I've done any new work that I'm sluggish and uninspired. Not really excited or motivated. Still, I need to put in a couple of hours a day every day until it clicks. Having said that I may not get over there today. I want to finish my book and go to the library and I have to go to the store and get cat food and I'm sitting here writing this post and it's already noon. And now it's raining again.

As unproductive as yesterday was, my mood is still buoyant. Trump is done and has no possible chance of overturning the election no matter how much he and the Republicans try. Rumors trickling out of the White House describe him as financially broke and demoralized and depressed and afraid of being arrested spending his days watching TV or talking on the phone trying to get people to go to bat for him. Another of his law firms has quit. At this point it's not Trump so much as the Republicans refusing to concede that Biden is president elect and stonewalling the transition which is putting the country at risk as we no longer have a functioning president, as much as he ever functioned, all to keep their base ginned up for the two run-off elections in Georgia which they are desperate to win because if they lose then they won't have the ability to obstruct the Democrat agenda. And best of all, this past week has been mostly devoid of Trump...no rallies, no press conferences, no dominating the news with his lies and butthole pucker of a mouth and it has been wonderful. As a result, my afib hasn't been completely dormant but the few times it has tried have been mild and short and I really think even that will go away, that the medication will be able to do a better job.

And thanks for all the kind words about my work. I still have two pages to update on the website...the news page and the archive gallery. Both those pages still have the links to the carved glass commission work with which I made my living for over 40 years but I've removed them on all the others.