Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
Four-score-and-fifteen days ago we self-isolated and started this diary. I am weary of both isolation and daily reminding myself of just how repetitive this life has become. Since America, California, and Fresno have so many people who can't or won't self-isolate, or wear masks, or avoid large indoor groups, I can see a high level of infection continuing for dozens more weeks. ("N" is used in equations to represent an unknown factor. Hence the diary title.)The only good news is that it seems less certain that we, Marianne and I, would die if we catch COVID19, old and compromised though we may be. Small, but important, consolation.
What now? I asked that in early April, and my answer was close, but too optimistic:
I would guess we have two to eight weeks left of isolation. Make June 1st the target. People will still be dying of COVID-19, but 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.
One level of our patience may well run out in mid-July, after Marianne finishes radiation treatment and can be classified as a "cancer survivor", still old (like me), still compromised. At that point, we will likely expand our "bubble" to include Gabby and her family. After that, we may search for isolation up in the mountains or on the coast, to avoid the Fresno heat. Or?
But for now, more diaries of lives in repetition.
Tuesday, June 16, Day 95 of COVID19 Isolation
A standard, slow start. At least Marianne got productive quickly via a class session with artist and friend Claudia. I tried to use the time for another back-yard wild animal photo safari. I found this horned beast on the breakfast table and the squeaky squirrel in the jungle canopy over head. The almost-tame dove family was moving on, with just one chick left in the nest.
Pretty soon, Marianne had to leave for another physical therapy session, not fun but useful. I chose to stay home and walk, followed by a little on-line exploration of photography and Tesla trucks. This excess down time means I have hours to learn more about these subjects than I really need. I just hope it doesn't lead to even more I-can't-live-without-this gadgets and machines.
The afternoon included a simple "smorgasbrod" dinner, followed by Zoom cocktails with Rita, Peter, Adrienne, and Tony. This type of lunch-dinner is one of my favorites, although the calorie load can get pretty high (don't be misled by the lettuce and celery, there was also cheese and various animals fats). Cocktails were also fun, also despite calories. I think we are all getting this zoom-cocktails stuff down, we just need more practice. Practice, practice, practice.
Since weekly weigh-in is tomorrow, I did have to follow all this with an evening walk, while Marianne went back to the art hut. My one picture was from our almost-neighbor on Normal Street, the one who draws disappearing chalk art on his garage. Today's image and a poem by Kristina Kay Robinson called for celebration of Juneteenth, the June 19 anniversary of the 1865 announcement of their freedom for Galveston's slaves in Texas.
That was Day 95.
No travel history. Just stirs melancholy over the current situation.
Wednesday, June 17, Isolation Day 96
Writing this Wednesday diary entry two days later is hard, because I don't remember much and my cameras yield not a single picture as a hint. From my calendar, I do know I had a Leica on-line Zoom course from 9:00 to 2:30. I was exposed to all the various options of my almost-new Q2 camera. Nine months ago, I opted for this relatively simple, fixed-lens camera because I was getting tired of trying to understand all the various possibilities of my Canon gear. During the lock-down, I have taken pictures almost every day, but found I was not always understanding what I should be doing with the camera. The course helped, but now I need to practice!
Marianne's day was more complicated. She had a physical therapy session in the morning, addressing right arm surgery damage from the lumpectomy. Reportedly, PT does hurt, but it was also discouraging because the therapist said the exercises would need to be practiced forever, not just a few more weeks or months.
The rest of her day was art, dinner (prep and eat), Skype with Klarika (aka Monterey Mamo) on her 88th birthday, chat with Babi in her preparation for next week's trip for HER cancer treatment, and more art. Marianne's calendar also had a note that our second dove-chick left the nest. We're empty nesters again.
That was Day 96
Thursday, June 18, Day 97
I started the day at 5:30 with a walk north through the neighborhood. Early made sense because we are starting a ten day period with afternoon temperatures near and above 100F. Overnight lows will stay in the high 60s and low 70s, so this may have been my last cool stroll. I also resolved to take more pictures to make up for Wednesday, starting with this nice California-Spanish style home.
I passed by the vintage gas station that I have seen a hundred times, but this morning it was not blocked by old cars parked, waiting for repair, and I could see the plaque saying this was the first gas station in California and the second-oldest continuously-operated station in America. Right in our neighborhood!
The rest of my walk was nice, but no different from dozens over the last three months. For pictures, I continue to get distracted by flowers, my form of street photography, I suppose. None will make it to a magazine cover, but a little bit of colorful pretty is OK nowadays.
Back home, Marianne was chatting with Dale in Germany. I later asked what they had talked about and was told "oh, nothing in particular". Good friends can take and hour-and-a-half to cover nothing.
In fact, I covered similar "nothing" with Vern when I delivered yesterday's NYT. We didn't take quite so much time, but guys seldom do. He was being camera shy this morning, so all I snapped was a bouquet of flowers from Joan's birthday the day before. One can never have too many flowers, real or pictured.
In the afternoon, I had one more #StayHomeWithLeica event, a "conversation" with photographer Craig Semetko. This session was not as interesting as others, as the interviewer and interviewee spent too much time telling inside stories. My opinion, anyway. Semetko did have one interesting piece of advice for the young meeting attendee who asked how he could start making a living taking pictures. "Keep your day job". In today's world very, very few people are lucky enough to get paid for taking pictures, and not many are paid enough to buy both cameras and food. My day job is retirement. Food is a priority.
Speaking of food, dinner was leftovers, another feature of the good meals Marianne has time to make in stay-at-home. She often prepares recipes for a dinner party of four, two on one day and two on the next. That works for me.
After dinner, she joined me on an evening walk and posed at The Big Red Church, our other neighborhood historical landmark, since 1883 is about as far back as most towns in California go.
That was Day 97
Friday, June 19, Juneteenth 98th Isolation Day
I started the day with hanging the flag, since we need to start celebrating something positive. Like many white folks, I have a lifetime of ignorance when it comes to the African-American experience, but I'll try to learn. My first recommendation would be a book written by neighbors Ethan Kytle and Blain Roberts: Denmark Vesey's Garden / Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy. The back story they provide to Confederate monuments and what they really mean is particularly timely.
After breakfast, Marianne left for a cancer center appointment to get tattoos, just seven tiny dots, no goldfish or American flags. Actual zapping will start Monday.
I tried a morning walk-with-camera, but did not get far. First, there was wildlife on the front porch to track down and then a new set of blossoms on one of our own front yard trees.
A few doors down, I stopped to replenish neighbor Vern's supply of the New York Times, "All the News That's Fit to Print". Nowadays, there seem to be only a few stories, but pages and pages on each topic.
We talked about the neighborhood and the weather and the news, but I have to admit we solved no problems about any. In fact, our neighborhood has hardly any problems and for that we are grateful. And Fresno weather is what it is, currently nice, but with heat just around the corner. While we chatted, neighbor Bill and his grandson dropped by. Little Marcus had been jabbering a mile-a-minute moments before, but became as quiet as his little stuffed monkey when introduced to us old guys. We're scary, I guess.
I left the quiet porch and headed to Costco to fuel up the Jeep. We don't have to do that very much with our current driving, but we hope to get out this weekend, so we need to be prepared. The lock-down must be over because Costco was crowded. Surprise.
After fuel, I met Marianne over at Butterfish, our second restaurant dining experience in months, outside, of course. The food was decent, and the break from routine sounded nice, but I'll admit to missing the old days when we just thought about food and not about masks, cleanliness, and disease. Ruins the appetite.
The rest of the day was at home, a little camera and computer puttering for me and paint study for Marianne.
That was Day 98
Saturday, June 20, Isolation Day 99
My Saturday morning routine includes a Skype call with son Geoff to ask "What's new?". What a silly question nowadays, but he did report that Ryan and Sean had "finished" school for the year just the day before. In the strange world of on-the-fly-created distance learning, the last week or two sounded even more useless, but that may be more usual than not. The only other "new" was that puppy Jackson had gotten a haircut and looked quite spiffy.
I tried diary writing, but our Friday had been so uninspired and uninspiring, that I gave up. These diaries need to be more interesting, but that requires one or more of: 1) do more interesting; 2 photograph more interesting; 3) think more interesting. I'll try, but 100 days in, it may be more than I can manage. We'll see.
Today was cleaning person day, so after Marianne gave her instructions, we left the house for a few hours. The first stop was breakfast at Irene's, a regular local haunt for breakfast, but a place we'd not been in since COVID. It was good to see they were open, and that they had plenty of outdoor seating, albeit with lots of street noise. There was also a noisy table of a half-dozen "young people" drinking beer and talking loudly. They were 15 feet away and, so, following health protocol, but we found it unsettling. However, as I heard more of their conversation, it became clear it was a shift of medical personnel coming off an Emergency Room night shift. They've earned the right to have a beer or two and be a bit loud.
Our goal was a drive up to Sequoia and King's Canyon National Parks, an easy hour-long drive east. Somehow, I managed to start off lost, and wasted 20 minutes wandering around some of the seedier parts of Fresno. I could tell I hadn't gone on a road trip, even a short one, in months. Eventually, we got onto Highway 180, east through old-time Fresno County orchards. Nice drive, with an early stop or two to warm up the cameras. I have learned it's always better to first take pictures that don't matter before the time comes for THE shot. (As if that time would ever come.)
We checked in at the entrance gate with Marianne's $10 all-you-can-visit Senior Pass. I asked the masked ranger what was closed and he said: "hotels, restaurants, camp grounds, gift shops, and visitor centers." Only the roads, day trails, and some picnic grounds were open.
Without any excuse to do anything else, we headed to Grant's Grove. The parking lot was fairly full, though without tour buses. Normally, when we stop here, there would be several buses, each filled with passengers speaking English or French or Spanish or Japanese or Chinese or something we can't recognize. Apparently the bus tour business is gone, as is foreign tourism generally.
We put on our masks and started left, up the loop trail. Less than half of the other walkers were wearing masks and several seemed oblivious to the six-foot distancing rules. Some of these same folks ignored the signs about staying on the paths to protect young trees, apparently not wanting their personal liberty in any way limited. Sheesh.
For photography, it was hard to get inspired in the mid-day light, but still I clicked away. We have been here in Fall and snowy winter and those are better. Actually, seeing General Grant is good any day. I wonder, will the anti-monument fever hit locally, threatening all the Generals' monumental trees? Named in the 1860s and 1870s, only Union officers were so honored. Monuments elsewhere in the country to Confederate leaders came decades after the War of Insurrection, as part of white-washing history. Nevertheless, I suspect 19th Century Union officers might not meet 21st Century personal standards.
Our short hike done, we headed home, disappointed that Sequoia and Kings Canyon NPs will not be useful retreats as the valley heat arrives. No Park hotels or restaurants or camp sites mean no overnights. Day trails crowded with mask-less wanderers does not sound fun. Maybe in 2021.
We stopped at the Centerville Fruit Station to replenish our supply of local fruit. This little store has been on the road to the National Parks for many decades, but has just been bypassed by a new four-lane highway. It will be a shame if the traditional stop disappears. We did our part today.
Home by early afternoon, we went to our normal offices: Marianne's Art Hut and my Photo Cave. She worked learning new painting techniques, with minor detours into YouTube cooking shows. I watched a #StayHomeWithLeica conversation with Craig Semetko, an apparently famous photographer and art director, specializing in record material (covers, inserts, packaging, PR-material). He is undoubtedly talented, but his work was so much different from anything I would find myself doing, that I lasted only about a quarter of the way through before I too was distracted by competing YouTube offerings.
Marianne scheduled an 8pm date for drinks on our patio. Great idea. We reviewed our day and the most-recent news, including DT's sparsely-attended Tulsa rally. We can only hope it is a sign of the future.
And that was Day 99
Sunday, June 21, Day 100, Father's Day and the beginning of Summer
I got to do whatever I wanted, unless it involved people other than Marianne, my quarantine buddy. Good enough for me.
I started with an early walk, before the heat hit. My window for being outside is shorter now that summer is officially here. My observation has been that most places have at least three months of bad weather. Kyiv freezing cold had almost twice that. Germany's winter was shorter and less extreme, but still at least three months long. Fresno's bad weather is summer and starts about now and carries into September, a few days less than three months. Somewhere in those three months, we will have a couple of instances of two or three weeks straight with daytime temperature above 100F, often well above. Maybe it will kill the COVID?
I had seen houses listed for sale in our neighborhood and walked by to give my stroll some purpose. The bungalow on the left is asking $280,000 and is on a very busy intersection. The mid-century home in the middle is asking about $70,000 more, but it is still on a busy street. The last house is the size and vintage of ours, and is asking $450,000, a price we would like, but this location is much quieter than ours. That's what houses go for in the Fresno High area, in case you wondered.
Otherwise, my morning walk was distracted by flowers, again. The 15-foot tall, yellow-flowered cactus was amazing and the artichoke plant was an interesting choice for a parking strip.
Somewhere on Echo Street, I had to sneak up quietly for a wildlife shot. Later, on Normal, I passed a Cadillac Eldorado out of some sort of time warp. Added minor interest to a pleasant-enough walk.
Back home it was watering day. Now that summer is here, we need to do this two or three times a week. Once inside, I started getting Father's Day greetings, first text messages from Gabby and from Mamal and then a nice Facetime chat with Brian, Jen, and Rich. (Geoff's Skype call Saturday was considered a FD greeting too.) Everyone had quiet days planned for the resident fathers, but that may be the way it should be, virus or not.
Speaking of parents, our dove pair has reclaimed their nest, barely a week after kicking the last chicks out. At least it gives us something to look at and chat about. (And, yes, we ARE getting close to being stir-crazy.)
Father's Day dinner was wonderful, as I have come to expect and appreciate. We both commented that Mamo would have liked this meal. A real "Sunday Dinner" she would call it. We miss her.
The rest of the day was so quiet that we remarked about it. In the end, it may be the quiet that wears out our patience with self-isolation. It would be so much easier if we could know an end time.
That was Day 100 of isolation.
Monday, June 22, Isolation Day 101
A nice morning bouquet in the kitchen window, before we headed out to Marianne's first radiation therapy session. The treatment was painless and stressful only in that it exists, I think. Our patient is a good patient, and treatment will end, but 40 weeks is a long time from diagnosis to (mostly) ending treatment and each procedure comes with side effects.
We celebrated with breakfast out at Starbucks. Not IN Starbucks, but parked under a tree in the parking lot. It's what passes for dining out.
Then we shopped for bicycle shoes to go along with the fancy new Peloton exercise machine I had ordered at 6:00 am. I miss real cardio exercise, the heartrate-to-140 kind, and I do not see being in an inside gym for at least a year or two. Gabby recommended it and Marianne is enthusiastic, so the splurge is worthwhile, I think. Delivery is not until August 4, so I need to exercise to get ready. (Kind of like tidying up before the cleaning lady arrives.)
However, by the time we were home, it was too hot to walk or work outside. The forecast is for a solid week of above 100F days, so if I miss a 6am walk, that's it for outside.
I managed five minutes in the front yard, time for a single flower picture, and then retreated. Out in the back yard, it was just one dove picture, in order to keep an illustrated record of our third hatching pair.
Inside, Marianne holed up in the art room for as long as the hut's air conditioner could keep up. I did a little exercising, sit-ups and push-ups and such, and felt righteous, even if it wasn't much. I tried reading, but could not concentrate, my problem, not the book's. This isolation time is great for making resolutions, like exercise and read more, but not for keeping them.
Marianne's dinner experiment worked out great. She made testaroli, noodles from cut strips of thin pizza crust, with fresh pesto, pine nuts, and Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese. (My contribution was grating the cheese.) This is a recipe from the Lunigiana area of Italy, near Pontremoli, where we based one of our best vacations ever.
Smiles for it having happened ...
And that was Day 101.
Tuesday, June 23, Day 102 of isolation
Yesterday, my editor commented: "Your are good at making something out of nothing." Today, "nothing" may win.
Early, I tried a photo walk, but captured nothing more than my test shot of the white rose by the front door. After the non-productive walk, while Marianne was out getting zapped, I forced myself to exercise, just 15 minutes. Then I worked on the something-out-of-nothing diary. Otherwise, I can remember nothing from morning to evening, other than a check on Marianne in her art world.
She is working along at least two paths, a largish painting and the on-line technique course she does with Claudia. The painting went through the "scratching" stage, that's all the black marks. Next comes color, not just looking at what's in the bottles and tubes on the shelf, but deciding what selection of colors, or pallet, seems inspirational for the new work. For this, Marianne mixes swatches, and sees if anything jumps out. (There's probably a technical term for "jumps out", but I don't know it.) I'm not sure she could have done this long and detailed process in the pre-COVID days.
Promptly at 5pm, we started our weekly Zoom cocktail party, but half the folks could not make it. Rita was busy mending fences with a neighbor she had argued with earlier in the day. (Rita was right, neighbor wrong.) Meanwhile, Gabby had gotten tied up with tech support for both the vacation house in Truckee and Mamal's office back home. That left just Adrienne, Tony, Marianne, and John, but it was fun in any event. I know we would all prefer in-person chit chat, but Zoom worked OK today, until it didn't.
At 6:12, our power went out and the party ended. We received a text that a car had hit a pole nearby and 2864 PG&E customers were without electricity. A later text added that the power was expected to be restored at 3:12 the next morning. Suddenly, we had to patch together evening activities, made more difficult because it was still in the 90s, thus precluding outside activities. Fortunately, Marianne made do with iPad and iPhone movies and I read by the light of our little camp light. Then we settled in early in a hot bedroom and did the best we could at sleeping. At least it was something to talk (write) about.
That was Day 102
Wednesday, June 24, Isolation Day 103.
More of the same, with a little bit of "something". My morning walk started at 5:30 to avoid the heat and I chose standard route #3, Fresno City College Campus and Beyond - otherwise known as "East". And, yes, I have a route for each compass direction. I suppose there are at least 100 walks documented in these COVID diaries by now, and none are very exciting. But I keep trying. The pictures of the day were all from the FCC campus, nothing remarkable, just reminders of another early morning stroll. 4,000 steps.
After the walk, there was breakfast and a quick grocery store errand while Marianne went to her daily radiation. Three down, thirteen to go.
After I had finished reading it, I delivered the New York Times to neighbor Vern and joined him on his porch to solve world problems. We were working so hard on solutions that we missed an earthquake, one that brought Joan out of the house all excited. No sooner was she telling us what HAD happened, than my phone alarmed with an Emergency Alert. "Earthquake! Expect shaking. Drop, Cover, Hold On. Protect yourself now. - USGS ShakeAlert."
Marianne got the same alert and panicked. We messaged back and forth a few times before it was clear that the USGS warning was much ado about nothing. The earthquake was centered east of the Sierras, not far as the crow flies, if the crow can get over the Sierras. However, it was done before the warning went out. I think USGS needs to work on the technology.
The rest of the morning was mostly in preparation of PG&E's "Smart Day", an occasion when we need to turn off all appliances between 2 and 7pm. This means we need to pre-cool the house, since the AC can not be allowed to run in those five hours when our electric rate quadruples. It also meant Marianne needed a recipe she could cook ahead, so she found an Indian meatball recipe of a zillion steps, the last of which was "simmer for hours". That works.
We spent the first part of the power-off period out at Kaiser Medical Center where I received training on physical therapy following a lumpectomy. Since a lymph node had been removed, there is a massage routine that is necessary to keep the lymph system draining, but, meanwhile, our patient's other shoulder problem meant help was needed. My job, and happy to oblige. The training graphically illustrated to me the almost-forever character of breast cancer recovery. Marianne wants to be known as a wife, a mother, a grandmother, an artist, a sister, a friend, and a retired teacher, not defined as a "cancer survivor", but sometimes that darned elephant acts up.
Back home, the meatballs and rice were still warm enough to eat and were delicious. I know the picture may not look appetizing, but it was delightful. Not only that, but there are enough leftovers for another meal or two.
After dinner, we needed to wait for a few hours before air conditioning and televisions could be turned on, but we tried to be productive nonetheless. Marianne sat in her comfy chair and looked at movies on her iPad. I took a nap. That's about as productive as we could manage, without air conditioning.
And that was Day 103
Thursday, June 25, COVID Isolation Day 104
An early morning walk-with-camera turned into a full-fledged bird hunt. I walked out of the house, took a picture of my white test rose, and wandered north, no destination in mind. First, I was distracted by cute yard art. At 6am, almost anything distracts me.
At some point I was struck with how much bird sound there was, tweets everywhere. Soon, I was pointing the camera at the sounds and snapping. An hour later, I had accumulated a bunch of cute birds, a couple of bees, and a squirrel. Who needs Rocky Mountain National Park for wildlife?
All this was before 7:30. After breakfast, Marianne drove off to radiation (Day 4 of 16) and got back in time for "Whimsical Wednesday" art lessons with Ava and Sam. (One day delayed, but we are not on tight schedules!) This is a nice little bridge to grandkids and Ava remains enthusiastic. Sam is ... Sam. He does all the work, but he acts just like a nine-year-old, a little goofy. We miss them both.
After art teaching class, Marianne moved on to her collaborative art class with Claudia, while I went over to Vern's with the New York version of news. The artists seem to be quite productive with their time, while us porch-sitting old geezers just moan about the same things we moaned about the day before, COVID and DT, both disasters.
Today was another of those hot days when PG&E bribes us to turn everything off in the afternoon and early evening. A year ago, we would have visited Magdalena's pool, another reason to miss her.
Instead, we dined out, the first real restaurant meal in 105 days. (Breakfasts and take-out don't count.) We chose "The Elbow Room" because of their misted patio, hoping that they had properly implemented all the COVID precautions. They had. We had plenty of space and the mister fans were augmented with additional temporary air coolers to make it seem like we were in a moist and cool wind tunnel. Perfect for our concerns and, as a bonus, the food was decent.
To kill a bit more time, we drove the air conditioned Jeep through the Fresno area called "Van Ness Extension". This is where the showy, wealthy folks live, in massive homes with gardens that dwarf Fresno's public parks. I have never figured out how to photograph these places to give a real sense of how different this district is from ours. We have a number of decent-sized, early 20th Century mansions, but nothing as big as some of these homes and nowhere near the number of them. It's easy to see why this town has such a them-vs-us feel, north-vs-south.
Back home, we waited for 7pm, when we could turn back on the air conditioning. When we did, it was still 105F outside, so there was no sipping drinks on the patio while the system cooled the house back to where we like it.
Just before I turned in, I checked the front porch and saw that the red light of sunset (thanks to forest fires) gave my test white rose a nice look.
It occurred to me that June 25 was the day my Dad celebrated for his birthday. When he was 65, the Social Security folks pointed out that his birth certificate said "June 26", and he remembered changing it when he was a kid, so his birthday would be exactly six months from Christmas, both directions. Happy birthday, Dad.
That was Day 104
Friday, June 26, COVID Isolation Day 105
Same story as most days, starting with an early walk. I take pictures to pass the time and I repeat what I've shot before because the flower, or tree, or house, or church, or snail is still pretty or interesting or cute. I could almost leave the camera at home, if I limited myself to just new subjects. Some day, these will all be more interesting. I hope.
After the walk, I did some driving. Marianne had a radiation appointment, but was feeling puny. On the way out, we talked about a cinnamon roll as an after zap treat, but in the end she turned it down in favor of just going home. Like I said, she was feeling puny, so home it was.
While she rested much of the day, I puttered: diary-writing; reading, until my eyes were falling shut; photo "webinars", until they were just too boring; internet news, until I had lost all hope for America.
Dinner was left over Indian meatballs and ripe peaches for dessert. Easy, but tasty.
The rest of the day continued in the same vein, a vein with hardly any pulse. The evening highlight was saying good night to "spotty", our new back-porch Mourning Dove.
It could be worse.
Day 105, done
Saturday, June 27, Isolation #106
It HAD TO BE more exciting than Friday. I started with a Skype with son Geoff, always good even if we can never hold to our intention to not talk too much about C19. He had gone into his office to work on Friday for the first time as his firm shifted to one-day-a-week in the office. It's not set when they may expand more, but until that he's mostly at home.
Marianne did plan a big morning, starting at the Vineyard Farmers Market. We've actually gotten used to the new system, masks and distancing and lines. I'm glad my coffee lady opted for a clear visor, since she has a welcoming smile and keeps her personality this way. Otherwise, it's just masked folks selling unmasked fruits and veggies. The tomato guy is expensive, but sells ripe fruits that taste like ripe fruit.
We packed our perishables into an ice chest and headed out to breakfast at Wild Fig Kitchen, 33 miles north, in Coarsegold. This may seem a bit extreme for breakfast, but the food is good and they have a sizable number of outside tables. We were able to get our new favorite, in the upwind corner. I had chicken and waffles, not diet worthy, and Marianne had chicken and gravy, also a little rich. The food was good, as expected, with each sauce more interesting than one might think. We'll be back.
On the way home, we stopped at The Market for more dinner fixings and at the cleaners because we were close by. Wow, a four-stop morning, busier than we have been in months. Truly. What has our life become?
At home, we settled in to do whatever we could in the comfort of our air conditioning. At 3:30, I checked Wunderground for the nearest weather station report: "110F ... like 121". At least it said Sunday would be "MUCH COOLER". We can only hope.
Dinner started with wine and conversation. Marianne and I are so thankful that we do that well -- conversation. (Wine too, but that's not unique in the C19-affected population.)
Thanks to our extravagant Wild Fig brunch, dinner was a light and cold gazpacho. Perfect for "feels like 121".
After the sun went down, we walked as long as we could, all the way around one block. We were definitely ready for "MUCH COOLER".
That was Isolation Day 106.
Sunday, June 28, Day 107
Sunday was much cooler, indeed. That much I remember and it allowed me to work in the garden for four hours. It felt good to catch up on little chores without boiling. (Actually, I just don't go in the garden when it is hot. All plants can make it through one more day or week or summer. Or not.)
Beyond the outdoor activity, I think we did nothing, really nothing. I asked Marianne, and she remembers nothing. I asked the garden-wall gnome, and he just wrinkled his lips and stared. My cameras were almost empty. It was less than 24 hours ago, and Sunday is largely blank.
Somehow, I have a feeling that will happen more and more since isolation for Fresno County is being returned, bit by bit. Bars have been re-closed and restaurants are probably not far behind. (My favorite for what SHOULD be closed are singing churches, but that is way too political to touch.) Schools? Learning everything online does not seem 100% successful, but absent innoculations, does the community want all students to just get C19?
My single picture was of BBQ hamburgers and corn. The cooler weather let us reclaim the patio, although we did have to share the corn with the summer flies that invade about now.
So, I guess that was Day 107.
Monday, June 29, Isolation Day 108
Marianne's day started out with radiation, right-side physical therapy, and left shoulder physical therapy. Everything was nominal, a good sign, I suppose.
While she was keeping the Kaiser Medical Center in business, I went out in the neighborhood to try photos. I started with practicing "candid street shots", with the smallish Leica held inconspicuously, down at waist level. This was in preparation for more interesting streets in bigger or more exotic cities. With a little practice, I did better at holding the camera level, anyway.
Along the way, I also practiced wild animals (a giraffe!), a jungle flower, and an architectural monument. Again, all this is practice for future photo excursions in Africa, or Manaus, or New York. Soon.
After photos and breakfast, I read the New York Times, a ritual I enjoy after many years where English language newspapers were not available. Nonetheless, the reports of increased COVID-19 cases and the predictable re-closure of bars and such continue to be discouraging, as are revelations of racism, Russians, and Republicans. (Oops, may be too political.)
For retail therapy, I made a trip over to Fresno Ag, our local hardware store. In the pre-COVID times, I would go there a few times a week, but nowadays, it's less frequent than our bi-weekly grocery runs. The store was crowded, but everyone was following the rules and wearing masks and keeping reasonably distant.
Speaking of rules, after dinner, I went to a new-for-me dental office for a teeth cleaning. My old dentist (and neighbor) had retired and sold his practice to a younger dentist and I was more than due for a check-up. All the new people were properly masked, gowned, shielded, and armed with cleaning wipes. Like the trip to Fresno Ag, here was an absolutely normal event, that took on an "edge" in these times of virus worry.
On return home, Marianne and I spent a couple of hours in talk therapy on the back patio. The bad news is that we NEED more therapy, but the good news is that we have all the time in the world to do it now. (And we enjoy it too.)
Day 108 done
Tuesday, June 30, Isolation Day 109
Tuesday was much like all the other days. I started with a walk and Marianne with a radiation treatment. Walks are better. My camera captured a pair of wild animals and a flower. Petty standard.
When I came back I finished the newspaper and brought it over to neighbor Vern and we sat and talked a bit. Always good, but we never seem to solve the problems we discuss.
By then, Marianne was back doing art stuff. She had homework to do before a session with Claudia and this was followed by a Zoom class with the Montana-based instructor. The dozen (or more?) students were from all over the States and everyone was required to wave and say hello. Distance learning is now main stream education, even for something as hands-on as painting. Interesting. For forever?
I'm not sure what else I did, except I could safely say it was not exciting. Dinner was good, as it almost always is with our captured-at-home chef. Fresno summer was giving us a break too, as it was warm, not hot, and we could dine outside.
As we were finishing dessert, we started up the Tuesday Zoom cocktails-with-friends. Only Pete and Rita could make it this session, as Tony and Adrienne were up in far Northern California, where internet connections are not so good. It seems strange that the home state of the internet also still has poorly served areas. Anyway, chatting with just one other couplewas fun and we got to hear more from Pete this way. I'm not sure anyone had any special news, but it's the process that's important, not the product.
And that was it for June and our isolation Day 109.
I will start the new month with a new page, although I fear no content will be new for days, weeks, and months.
Patience is hard. Time drags. But wars and refugee escapes have taken longer. Emancipation of others, even longer, and real freedom for everyone may take generations. More months in COVID19 isolation MUST be doable.
Illigitimi non carborundum.
John and Marianne