Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
March, April, May and now June, this shutdown seems like it has been going on forever, but it's been only about one-third of a percent of our lives. Less than 1% of the time since our wedding. Less than 2% of the time we lived in Europe. Why does it feel like it has lasted "forever"? I think it's because of the sameness of the days, especially now that routines are set in stone. It could be worse, at least Fresno has managed the current street situation with demonstrations, but not destruction.
I will continue these daily writings, not because I expect much difference (could I just copy-and-paste from past days?), but because I believe it will be useful to have a personal record of these tumultuous times and a daily requirement creates the discipline needed for a complete record.
Past pandemic diaries highlighted the more-serious struggles of Marianne's mother's early life in war and its wake. Other diaries pointed to the events that may have helped define our own resilience, such as it is. Now, there will be an addition at the end of the daily entry, a link back to old travels. Our March 10 plan had been to drive around the US in 2020 and return to Germany and Europe in 2021. In place of diaries of new travel, I will point back to past US and European tourism.
"Don't cry because it's over (for the moment), smile because it happened (and will again)".
Monday, June 1, Day 80 of our isolation
Our first event of the day was another trip to the Fresno Kaiser Medical Center. This was just routine physical therapy for our normal patient, but I tagged along to keep her company. Of course, I wasn't allowed inside the building, so I used the time to get in my Fitbit-steps and take a few pictures. On my walk, I went past the Emergency Department and got chastised by the guard for taking pictures, although he softened when I explained that I felt this was "our" ER and wanted to show our patient the changes. (Hopefully, we won't need to see this side of the facility up close again.)
The rest of my waiting time was spent taking flower pictures, because that's all there is. To make it harder, I work with manual focus and close-ups. The skills may be useful in more interesting future locations.
After physical therapy, Marianne needed some food: groceries from The Market. This is what passes for excitement nowadays. In mid-days past, after Kaiser trips, I'm sure we would have stopped for a bakery snack or a restaurant lunch, but not for now. Darn
At home, there was more nothing-new. Marianne gets distracted by calls to friends and her not-blank-anymore paintings. I putter with diaries, and photos. I read the NY Times and was yet again discouraged by the state of the country. We have a pandemic, street demonstrations, sometimes violent, evolving international collapses, a budding recession/depression, an early hurricane season, and a federal administration that is and was ready for none of it.
Maybe in honor of difficult times of past generations, we had Spam for dinner. I had bought some of the ground meat-like substance when the rumor was that packing plant closures would cause meat to disappear like toilet paper. Fortunately, our cook can make a good meal even of less than prime steak.
Afterwards, we returned to our normal distractions: Marianne to paint and me to walk. On my stroll, I saw another garage sign, this time in honor of nearby Fresno High School's Class of 2020. This neighbor definitely gets the award for civic spirit and creativity.
Otherwise, I found little to photograph that I had not seen a dozen times. I did walk into a front yard garden to snap a yellow rose that had nice back-lighting. Coming out of the flower bed, a neighbor stopped to chat and we introduced ourselves. We chatted for almost a half-hour and I learned that Steve is a semi-retired landscape architect (it showed in his meticulous front yard) who works part-time at the zoo. He was also a very tolerant listener, a trait I value now more than ever.
That was Day 80.
US Travel History: For a US travel review, I'll start with National Parks, because that's where we had intended to start on our REAL 2020 travel (now 2021?). Joshua Tree NP.
Tuesday, June 2, Day 81
After the absolutely-set-in-stone rituals of coffee, NYT, and breakfast, we headed out on a big excursion: grocery shopping. Actually, not real, full-scope shopping, just fruits and vegetables at Gabby's Fruit Basket and meat at Chase's Chop Shop. We often stop at Gabby's coming back from travels north of Fresno, when we take the Avenue 12 "short cut". It's not really shorter, just less industrial than the more direct route via Highway 99, one of the most dangerous and ugly highways in California. We had not been here since the Great Shutdown and it was good to see that the single-person fruit and vegetable stand was still prospering.
Our goal was Chase's, a butcher shop owned by sister-in-law Leisa's family. This is also regular stop when returning to Fresno, but it had been even longer since we had passed this way. Again, if was good to the Chase family operation still in business. That's not a given nowadays. We loaded up on home made sausage, a rack of pork spare ribs, a few hot dogs, and some pieces of beef chuck that the young woman behind the glass counter said would be good for barbecue. More on that later.
Back home it was completely forgettable chores and things. I know it was forgettable, because as I write this, I have completely forgotten. That is becoming a feature of these days. No pictures, no memory.
I do have pictures AND memories of dinner. Marianne's parts were the mashed potatoes, beans, salad, and fruit dessert. All were just fine. My job was barbecuing the chuck steak. It was absolutely inedible, tough and gristly. We gave up and cooked Chase's Chop Shop hot dogs, which were perfect. Lesson learned.
No sooner were we done with the multi-course dinner, than it was time for the weekly Zoom cocktail party with Adrienne, Rita (and Pete), and our Gabby. Each Zoom meeting starts with about five minutes of technology struggle, but I think we're getting better. This really is fun, even if I can't honestly remember anything earth shaking that was exchanged. What happens on Zoom, stays on Zoom.
Ava and Sam made a short appearance after the main show. No question, these are the friends we are missing the most. It seems that's true of all grandparents, certainly of everyone in our cocktail party, although Adrienne and Rita at least get to see their little kids since they live closer. When we feel comfortable visiting and hugging and playing?
After Zoom, Marianne and I did what we always seem to do in the evening, I walk and she paints. I took flower pictures and one shot of a very-California house a few blocks away. Our neighborhood has dozens of small jewels of similar vintage, some rougher than others, I must admit.
That was Day 81 of isolation, Day 8 of street demonstrations.
Europe Travel History: In our four years in Kiev, Ukraine, we seldom had tourist excursions, but here's one down to the city of Odessa on the Black Sea.
Wednesday, June 3, Day 82 of isolation. Day 9 of street demonstrations
This may have been the record so far for uneventful lock-down days. NYT, coffee, breakfast, go get the car washed, stop at the Post Office, and walk in a square in the Fig Garden area.
Pictures? Two, if I include a daily test shot out the office window. This is standard practice to make sure I have loaded film in the camera. Oops, not film, a chip and a battery.
The other pictures was a tree on my Fig Garden walk. FG is one of the nicest housing areas around and it is filled with big, old trees and the big, old houses the trees shelter. One of these days I should start recording the nice homes I pass by on my walks. I need to get more varied than just flowers, trees, shadows, and bugs.
Twenty-four hours later, I once again can not remember much of what went on. Internet browsing, art work (Marianne), dinner, a trip to the drug store, and watch some news. This last, news, has added to the malaise of the novel Coronavirus pandemic. Justifiable anger has filled American streets and spilled over into unjustifiable street destruction.
The president has come completely unhinged as he sees the crop his rhetoric has fertilized in the fields of American racism. The problem's root cause may be centuries old, but the increase in bigotry seems to be a reaction to changes of the last decade or two, reactions that the Trumpians foster and promote.
That was Day 82 of isolation, 9 of demonstration.
US Travel History: Yosemite, our most-often-visited National Park. (Nov. 2012, Jan 2015, Jan 2016, Oct 2016 (stars), Nov. 2016 (moon), Jan 2017, June 2017(with guide), Oct 2017, April 2018, Sep 2018)
Thursday, June 4, Day 83 of isolation.
The day promised to be Fresno-hot, so I walked early. Besides, the sun gives nicer light when it has just come from behind the Sierras. My pictures were limited to houses and just one flower. Nice neighborhood.
The heat ended up determining our activity. No gardening, for sure. Marianne and her art video-partner Claudia worked their way through the start of their on-line course and Marianne stayed at painting until the little air conditioner in the uninsulated art hut could not keep up.
I stayed inside, catching up on diaries and watching episodes from Sandy Munro, a 71-year-old car guru who is making a name in the YouTube world for his shows analyzing Tesla products. I like it because of an interest in the future Tesla pickup truck and because Munro shows that even old engineers can have new success.
Our back yard roses are entering their summer phase when they whither and dry. These aren't the pictures that go on post cards, but I like them. Another attraction to graceful aging.
Dinner came and went. I'm sure it was good, because we have an excellent chef on staff, but without a picture, my memory fails me. Another age thing.
We did go out for an after-sundown walk. I know, because I have pictures: a flower pair, a neighbor house, and the Strawberry Moon. I will try to get a more interesting moon picture tomorrow, when I can plan to have something else in the frame besides the glowing sphere.
That was Day 83 of isolation.
European Travel History: Goodness, so much to choose from. How about a two-week swing through Hungary?
Friday, June 5, Day 84 of isolation, Day 11 of Street Demonstrations
We have not joined the local George Floyd demonstrations, in part because we are still hyper-careful about crowds, old and infirm, you know. However, the week has drawn me back to watching TV news and reading internet reports. It is discouraging, particularly when force-as-the-solution rears its ugly head (yellow-coiffed and otherwise). Racial prejudice is everywhere, maybe not always violent or blatant, but inherent in day-to-day behaviors and in the justice system.
This is a chance to change, but many of us are wondering what can WE do. The internet is filled with lists, but most seem to have elements such as these:
- Donate to worthy causes, both charitable and political
- Sign petitions and demonstrate locally (if you can)
- Vote, at every opportunity
- Educate yourself on Racism, Black History, Black Literature.
Seems doable and we all need to act. That's what America and Americans need to be about.
Back at the diary, Friday was another day: a morning walk and quick shopping for office supplies. These simple tasks have become a big deal. At home, Marianne got some time for art. Pictures prove it all happened.
Mid-afternoon dinner was good. Of course. It was disturbed a bit by a chainsaw across the street where a tree was being cut down. This guy was either brave or foolish, but he survived. Again, more pictures for proof.
After dinner, I worked in another walk and snapped a couple of fliers: neighbor Hazel and her new drone and a big, black, bee.
As sunset and moon-rise approached, I set up for a more technical picture of the Strawberry Moon (a traditional name for the full moon that occurs in strawberry season). These shots are more complex than one would think, with tripod set-up, testing manual camera controls, and sipping red wine while waiting. Besides, our back yard does not have unobstructed views, so I had to trim a few tree limbs. After an hour or two, I was ready, but by then clouds had blocked what little view I might have had. I'll just offer yesterday's view. (Yes, I did use my new Photoshop training to get rid of phone lines.)
And that was Day 84 of isolation
US Travel History: An almost-urban National Park - Great Falls NP
Saturday, June 6, Day 85
Annually, usually in early April, Cambridge Avenue has a big yard sale. This year, the organizers delayed it until June 6, thinking things would be more normal by then. They hung a street sign, but only one or two homeowners participated. And no one wore masks. We left before we saw if many customers showed up. I wonder if this portends anything for this week's general opening, stores are allowed, but customers stay away.
We went out for a drive, partially because the house cleaner was returning and it felt better to continue keeping our distance, for everyone's sake. On the first part of our trip we tried to follow the Fresno Fruit Trail, a summer reincarnation of the springtime Blossom Trail. We did not hit many open fruit stands, just one fixed market in Centerville for corn and peaches and a guy in a tent selling cherries from Stockton. They were among the sweetest I have ever had, so we considered the long drive a success.
Our next goal was lunch, our first sit-down restaurant meal in almost three months. Even though it was an hour north of the Fruit Trail, we chose The Wild Fig Kitchen in Coarsegold. It is a favorite for any time we pass through, usually for its imaginative food, but we also knew we could find an outdoor table, a requirement for the next few weeks. The table was properly situated (upwind) and the food was as tasty as we remembered. A good first start in reintroduction to "normal" socialization.
Back home, we again went to our normal corners, Marianne's in her art hut and me in my office. Our distractions have served us well and we might even miss our ability to spend so much time on them, whenever that becomes possible. With a couple of weeks of radiation treatment pending, we won't rejoin society completely for awhile, and if California and Fresno don't stop increasing their COVID-19 cases, that may be quite a long while.
On my afternoon walk, I did chat with a few dog owners in the neighborhood. I guess that's socializing too. (What will all these dogs do when their handlers go back to work?)
That was Day 85
European History: Bamberg, Germany, one of our favorite cities. From July 2004, to November 2013 (plus: Oct 2005, Dec 2005, Aug 2008, Feb 2009, Oct 2011) The best part was that it was just 20 minutes from home.
Sunday, June 7, Day 86 of isolation, Day 13 of street protests
I usually look forward to a Sunday morning of sipping coffee and reading the Fresno Bee and New York Times, and maybe I still do, but current news is anything but positive. The optimist in me hopes broad demonstrations will lead to better opportunities and less oppression of minorities, especially African-Americans. That same optimism wonders if the poor US response to the novel coronavirus will lead toward better health care for all Americans. Then there is the pessimistic, skeptical view.
Marianne suggested a morning walk outside our neighborhood, so we drove north to a walking and bicycle path above the San Joaquin River. Other people had had the same idea, but the space was open enough that social distancing was not difficult. Like most walkers and riders, we brought masks, but did not wear them. Besides, it was windy enough that those little viruses didn't stand a chance of ganging up on us.
As plain as the path might seem, we enjoyed it. We learned that the valley below had originally been home to a forest of Valley Oaks, before farms took over. Now, a conservancy is sponsoring replanting of the river bottom with native oaks and other trees and plants. We just have to wait a few decades to see what happens. Photo opportunities were limited, but I shot what was in front of me.
At home, we had ambitious barbecue dinner plans. Marianne found a three- or four-step recipe for St Louis pork ribs which I thought I might be able to handle. She whipped up potato salad and we threw fresh corn from yesterday's farm market on the grill. It seemed like it would be yet another in our string of great quarantine meals. Everything certainly looked right.
Then, while eating, we had to acknowledge a shortcoming or two. The ribs were not quite done enough and I had gone too light on the basting sauce. The corn was a little too cooked, as had been the potatoes for the salad. The patio temperature was pleasant, but the wind was not. We both over indulged on the banana bread and Cool Whip dessert. But, you know what? The intentions were good and the company was great!
After cleanup, we went about our separate ways, Marianne to the Hut and me, with camera, to the neighborhood streets. One neighbor was polishing his boat, now that the local mountain lakes had been opened. That was a good sign. Further away, another neighborhood was showing signs of local strife. Neighbors had complained in social media about the new purple paint on this stately old home, but the most recent reply had been erection of multi-color flags. I don't know, I kind of like it. It's more interesting than yet one more blossom picture.
Back home, I needed to water our own garden, a task only allowed on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, after 6pm. Going out, I saw that our roses had recovered enough for a second season, something Fresno summers don't normally allow. The evening light and shadows were nice enough for another round of pictures. I think this makes eight zillion flower pictures during the stay-near-home order.
And that was Day 86
Our US History: Rocky Mountain National Park in May, 2017 and August, 2018.
Monday, June 8, Day 87
An unplanned day and not much happened. Our cactus gave one more fancy red flower to decorate the patio at breakfast. Afterwards, Marianne went shopping at Whole Foods and I went to the bank. (I feel like there's a joke in there, but it isn't happening.) Going on separate errands felt a bit like the old normal, except we were in masks. Nowadays we HAVE to put on a mask to get money from the bank. That's a change.
After the bank , I went for a walk in nearby Old Fig Garden. We drive through here all the time, since it is in between our house and most of the nicer shopping in town. Walking was different, however, and it gave me a chance to see just how big and fancy some of the homes are. I was reluctant to take pictures, for fear of being stopped by the local crime prevention folks. That thought made me wonder how much worse it would be if I was African-American. Central Park bird watching came to mind.
One home in particular stood out, in part because the huge backyard was decorated for a 2020 graduation party. I wondered if the gathering really happened? Probably, because this did not look like the house of someone who takes limits personally. (It is the house in the upper left of this Google Maps image. The other properties in the picture are big lots, just not the biggest. It's safe to take pictures from Google, no vigilantes.)
After my walk and Marianne's shopping, it was chores: ironing for Marianne and updating her computer software for me. I don't know who likes which chore least. From there it was "dinner out", Pho-to-go from a nearby Vietnamese restaurant. Not a recommendation, so it's name will remain secret. When will we feel comfortable at regular restaurants?
Nothing else happened.
That was Day 87
Our European History: One of our best trips ever, was a month in northern Italy, from July 9 through August 14, 2003. (24 diaries!)
Tuesday, June 9, Day 88
To squeeze in a little variety in our isolated days, I took a different camera and lens on my early morning walk. It worked, at least to get me to look around. For me, a major benefit of photography is that it forces observation, something even more important in our every-day-is-the-same, COVID-19 life. This morning, I found myself observing very normal things: birds-on-wires, squirrel-with-stick, flowers (again), ordinary houses, yard art, and a fading moon. I'm not sure there's a picture here that I would class as "interesting", but I enjoyed the process by which I shot them all. Would I have preferred a city waterfront or a medieval village? Probably, but this was good enough. Our new mantra: "Good Enough".
Back home, I checked on our back-porch dove pair and they are still just sitting and setting. Does anyone know how long she/he has to do this? More boring than quarantine.
Marianne and Claudia were busy with their art class, excellent use of isolation time. Right after class, Marianne ran off to have new hearing devices tuned and tested. These little gadgets are pretty amazing and, with Bluetooth connection, they now make AirPods unnecessary.
My only pre-Zoom duty was to deliver the New York Times to neighbor Vern and sit and chat a spell. First, however, I followed Joan and a beekeeper out to the garage where a bunch of little critters had set up housekeeping. Yesterday, one of the dogs had upset the hive, resulting in stings all around and trips to the emergency vet and doctor as well. When he arrived yesterday, this keeper took out 36 pounds of honey and about 20,000 bees, but there were still a fair number of the little guys left. I snapped pictures and left!
Our 5pm Zoom cocktail party was not too well attended, just us, Adrienne, and Tony. Our other regulars were busy, hopefully involving real wine or cocktails. It was fun, in any event, and there are always things to catch up on.
After Zoom, Marianne returned to her on-line class. She is one serious student. That probably comes from being on the teaching side for so long, so she needs to hold up the profession's reputation. This is a practice piece, in progress.
I then did my normal, a short walk to finish my 10,000 steps for the day. I would have made it, but Ruthie was out walking her master Ethan and we needed to talk a little about current events. Ethan and Wife Blain are both FSU history professors, with views about current events.
That was Day 88
Our US history: The next National Park? How about the Grand Canyon?
Wednesday, June 10, Day 89
Our plans seemed limited, but the day turned out to be "busy", or at least what passes for it nowadays.
I started with an early morning walk-with-camera. Wednesday's are watering day on our side of the street, so that was my first picture. Then, I crossed the Fresno Community College campus and took more of the pictures I have done before. The options are limited.
My morning walks are good for thinking, quiet and comfortable. The artist with a garage blackboard changed his posting to provide even more to think about. Back home, I would read the New York Times and try to understand a little more of what is happening in the world, in America, in California, and in Fresno.
I remember when 9/11 happened, I was sitting in a difficult business meeting at a hotel bar in Kiev. My project manager was politely telling me I was not doing my job as I should. He was right. Notified by an urgent call from his office in London, we had the barman turn on the television in time to see the second plane impact. We watched for an amount of time I can not even remember and then we parted, agreeing that the world had changed in that hour, in that day. The current crises are evolving much more slowly, but we must all agree again that the world has changed.
At a more everyday level, we did our own grocery shopping, first at Whole Foods and later at the Wednesday farmer's market. Masks and spaced lines everywhere. At least in these places, people have accepted changes. Virus infection is growing in Fresno, and in California, and we can only imagine it will increase more from "opening up" and from street marches. (Personally, I think opening up is more dangerous, because it involves increased risk for millions versus the thousand that are marching.)
Back home, we welcomed new grand-chicks. Two new back-porch doves have hatched and are huddled under mom (or dad?). Their life has not changed, and it's somehow reassuring.
Dinner was Salade Nicoise, with salmon left over from the last dinner and other fixings fresh from the morning shopping. Great mid-afternoon meals are a change we can accept!
Mixed in our day were two "Zoom" sessions, definitely a change from our pre-COVID pattern. The first was courtesy of Leica's StayAtHome initiative and provided an introductory course for Instagram. After a jargon-filled, hour-long, rambling demonstration, I came away thinking this social media platform is not for me (or Marianne, imo). Expanding attention to creation of a "presence" on Instagram, Facebook, Etsy, Pinterest, Flickr, etc., etc., etc. is too much of a change for me. I'll stick with our old-fashioned, twenty-year old website: trotter.ws.
The second Zoom session was a reading by one of Marianne's students, from a sixth grade class twenty years ago. Alysia had written a book of essays and it was being published today, but instead of a book tour, she and her publicist were having to make do with Zoom. Congratulations are in order! (Book : A Fish Growing Lungs, available at Books Are Magic in Brooklyn.)
My evening walk was short, because I needed only a few hundred steps to make my 10,000 goal. The Fitbit is a real task master. I started with the back yard and moved out to Cambridge Avenue. I chatted with Blain and Ethan and complimented puppy Ruthie on her decent behavior tonight. She normally does not like me anywhere near her own yard, but maybe she's weakening by allowing me to stand in the nearby street. My last stop was the big Magnolia tree at the far corner. One blossom was just perfect. (In regular daylight, the white blossom is so bright the inner stamen never shows up in pictures. Evening shadows were better.)
That was Isolation Day 89, Protest Day 16
Our European (almost) History. We visited Turkey three times during Spring Breaks from Kiev: 1999, 2000, and 2001. Every time we wanted to go back. Still do.
Thursday, June 11, Day 90 of COVID and Day 17 of BLM2020
Breakfast on the patio was a cornucopia from yesterday's shopping. This is a nice time for Fresno fresh fruit fans. After eating, I pushed aside the seeds and stems and started writing my diary. A new red blossom kept me company.
While I was "working", Marianne chatted with friend Dale and they compared California and Bavaria art and news and health and friends and families. The quiet of worldwide isolation at least makes it easier to stay in touch across the miles/kilometers and time zones.
Speaking of Germany, we would occasionally have a mid-morning meal there called "second breakfast", traditionally a roll, butter, and a glass of beer. Today we were more French. At the Parisien Bakery in Clovis, we picked sweet baked goods, for probably the same number of calories.
The Bakery and many of the restaurants in Clovis have opened for inside or outside dining, but we avoided crowds and used a park bench fifty feet away. I'm not sure when this self-distancing will end. The virus' second wave is starting before the first wave broke, so it's hard to go along with the "All clear" freedoms.
After both breakfasts, there was not much to do before the next meal. It was too hot for me to walk and even Marianne eschewed the art hut when the ac failed to keep things reasonable. She ended up napping upstairs and I read, a little, in my big comfy chair. I can imagine later in the summer when this will become our pattern.
Dinner, whatever it was, was great. Then we checked in on the new family additions. They're fine. Not fluffy feathers yet, but beady, attentive eyes like mom.
And that was Day 90. Three months.
Our US history: Maybe my favorite lodge and scenery: Glacier Lake NP.
Friday, June 12, Day 91 of isolation
We started isolation three months ago. Two weeks in, I speculated that it might end June 1, worried that "popular support for continued shutdown of the economy will be under assault. Unfortunately, I believe The Trump Party may be reading this better than the Democrats." The June 1 guess was wrong, but the rest was pretty close.
COVID19 cases continue to rise in California and Fresno. Businesses are opening up and I have no reason to think these numbers will do anything but get worse. Soon, we too may give up.
Now, what happened on Friday? Marianne met with the radiation team at the Cancer Center and they drafted a treatment plan. Sixteen sessions will start June 22 and finish July 13, one month from now. It seems doable, and then she can start officially calling herself a cancer survivor. As the oncology nurse noted in the beginning, it's a long road.
I could not accompany Marianne inside the Center and that too is unsettling. Almost all patients must face hospitals and exams alone in this time of Cornavirus, and I'm sure everyone is as bothered by that as we are. Over the years, I have been at Marianne's side for heart and cancer treatments and it hurts to send her in by herself.
On this day, my distraction was walking and clicking, as it often is nowadays. A local business provided a water feature for practice. Mostly, I varied the shutter speed, from 1/2000th of a second up to a quarter second. This later speed was the slowest I could manage and hold the camera steady, but it's probably good enough. I'll remember that when we next see Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite. (When ?)
Back home I finished reading the New York Times, not something that raises my spirits, and then delivered it to neighbor Vern. We talked, mostly me telling stories of Ukraine and Germany and Pennsylvania. I am reluctant to tell stories, because experience tells me people don't really want to hear more than a little, but Vern is a great audience. Besides, he too has stories from 90+ years on this earth. Conversations do raise my spirits. Thanks.
We had before dinner drinks, wine for me and a large Manhattan for Marianne. She was having a worse day than I was, I think, with the renewed attention to cancer and all. We talked about life, short term and longer, appreciating the time our isolation lifestyle provides. But, when will it be over?
For dessert, we walked to the little Food King for ice cream. On the way back, we stopped by Annie and Debbie to hear the story of the tree that had fallen on their house the night before. Dramatic, but fortunately without building damage. They rewarded our stop with garden veggies. We need to chat more with neighbors.
Back home, we said good night to our little dove family, and settled into evening TV, some news for me and a movie for Marianne.
That was Day 91.
Our European History: We visited Finland a few times, once for (negative) cancer diagnosis and later for work, but our October, 2001 drive was the most interesting.
Saturday, June 13, Day 92
Our worst day of the COVID era, at least it seemed so. Friday's re-immersion in the world of cancer treatment was a reminder that there is even more to worry about than the worst pandemic in 100 years and (needed) revolution in the streets. Marianne woke up more discouraged than I have seen her in months, and I was not far behind. We both imagined how things were months or a year ago and were overwhelmed. Older, weaker, frailer, all without proper notice. It's just not fair.
We tried our escapes, painting for Marianne and pictures for me. She liked the blue and pink back-yard flowers. Not so much, for me.
We went through the regular day steps, normal in the "new normal" way. Walking, reading, Internet-classes, and a meal. Chicken barbecue was OK, but dinner conversation turned to the question of when were we rejoining society. No answers.
After dinner, it was more new-normal: paint, walk, TV, and www.something.or.other.com. The back porch family was a cute distraction. Thanks.
That was Day 92
Our US History: Death Valley, another of our "local" parks, in 2015 and 2017.
Sunday, June 14, Day 93 of isolation
Saturday had been bad, but Sunday was good, good enough anyway. Reading the Sunday New York Times and Fresno Bee took a couple of hours and was more educational than depressing (although, the death at the Atlanta Wendy's was discouraging.)
On Sunday we can water plants and trees, so I did some in the morning and some in the evening. As the weather starts to get warmer, I think they say "thank you".
Marianne worked on art, some in the morning and some in the afternoon. I walked while she painted. Good therapy for each of us, good enough anyway.
Courtesy of Leica again, I "attended" an hour-long Zoom session with photographer Ruddy Roye. Roye was born in Jamaica, lives in Brooklyn, and has been a nationally-know photographer "of the human condition" for 15 or 20 years. He is another of the documentary photographers in the on-line series. While I have no chance to come close to his daring or style or insightful photographs, his words and pictures of current events were well worth the time.
Marianne and I discussed those events over pre-dinner cocktails, our own version of Brazilian caipirinhas. The discussion and drinks were as good as ever. (The drink was so good that I didn't get around to a photograph until all that was left were lime dregs.)
Our chicken dinner was followed by freshly baked clafoutis, from our head chef. It was all good.
Sunday pictures were flowers and birds. Our dove chicks are sometimes left alone by mom and dad, although one parent generally hangs around in case the kids need help. No flight yet.
Flowers were flowers, plus one bee. I like the colors and I like the details of the centers. You?
That was Isolation Day 93 and counting. Always counting.
Our Europe History: Portugal was another favorite, on our own in spring or with friends at Christmas.
Monday, June 15, Day 94
The end of this set of diaries. Another pretty simple day. The morning highlight may have been just delivering the NYT to Vern and chatting with him. Izzy listened. Like Vern, a good listener to whatever stories bounce out of my head.
Then there was the back yard tour. Our Mourning Dove family was active, a little. Mom and Dad had been leaving the kids alone for large parts of the day, apparently trying to get them to leave the nest. They're thinking about it.
The back yard flowers are hanging in there since the weather isn't yet Fresno-summer-hot. Pretty soon, they will all give up and hibernate for a couple of months. Flies are currently common, but even these guys tend to disappear with days above 100F. Soon.
Dinner was barbecue: steak and German sausage. Pretty good this time, although American butchers still haven't managed to recreate the Bavarian taste we would prefer. American steaks are, as a rule, better than those in the old country. We knew a German farmer/rancher who raised high quality Hereford beef cattle and he used to complain that his countrymen would not pay for quality meat, so very few ranches could afford to go to too much trouble. (He sold meat to pricey Berlin and Frankfurt restaurants.)
Then, like usual, Marianne went back to art work and I went out for a long walk. Ninety minutes of walking tired me out. When I returned home, Marianne said she was tired too, since she spent the entire time walking - inside her little art hut. Fair enough.
That was Day 94
Our US History: Blue Ridge Parkway, Fall Pictures.
So, stay healthy. Wear masks. Stay distant. Do something for those who have less. Donate to charities and politicians you favor. Demonstrate in the street if you want. Vote when the time comes.
John and Marianne