(Actually, October 12)
Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
We have done this COVID daily diary (is that redundant?) for more than 200 days, ever since March 14. Looking into a future of pandemic response that stretches for months and months, I have a hard time imaging diaries for the next 195 days. Or more. Or less. I'll try a few, just because I'm stubborn, but, seriously, skim through at most.
Formalities will remain: date, COVID count, a little text, pictures if there are any, and this-day-in-our-history. This last item is helpful for us to remember good times, something that is bittersweet, I'm afraid. Will we EVER travel to far-away interesting places and see family and friends?
Thursday, September 24, COVID Day 195
Having finished our ten-day, two trip experiment with travel, Marianne and I discussed impressions and "lessons learned".
Part One was four-and-a-half days in Truckee at the Rahimi Resort. The drives up and back were OK, but near our comfortable limit of 4 to 6 hours, especially with just one driver. Wildfire smoke kept us indoors much of the time. Our best meals were ones prepared at home, although Truckee seemed to offer plenty of outdoor venues, when the smoke is gone and before the cold arrives. Having a spacious, fully-equipped, house, with a known occupation history, was convenient and comforting. We entertained once, outside, and just one couple. We followed all protocols, even though our guests had gone though COVID and were probably non-contagious and not subject to re-infection.
I would assess our risk of catching the Coronavirus as no more than during our normal life, since we dealt with about as many people in Truckee as we do in Fresno.
Part Two, after a pass through Fresno to do laundry and such, was two days at a B&B in Cambria. The hotel had changed significantly, and negatively, since our last stay due to both COVID and a change in ownership. It may now represent what we would find at any decent small hotel in America, clean, trying to meet protocols, and not-too-crowded. The breakfast-in-a-box was good, not great, although it seemed the preparer had worked hard on the recipes.
In Cambria, we shopped much more than in Truckee and that was OK. There were limited crowds, lots of masks and hand sanitizer, and interesting wares. We went to one gallery-workshop and that was reasonably interesting and "safe" (no other visitors, masked staff). We had two restaurant meals on the coast, both outside and both tasty-enough. But still, it was eating in parking lots. We came away from the whole two-day experience saying we did not need to do that again soon.
I would assess that we increased our risk of infection compared to staying at home, just because we dealt with more people.
Main Experiment Results:
- Travel, without being able to see family, friends, galleries, museums, and tourist attractions generally, seemed pointless. Maybe if we were big outdoors people that could be different, but we are who we are.
- A week at a nice home was great, but not that much different from home.
- I appreciated the opportunity to photograph something different from our Fresno neighborhood.
- Hotel stays increase risk, but probably not too much.
- Outdoor dining may be a little more risky than shopping and then eating at home, but we haven't had outdoor meals that favorably compete with home cooking.
The whole point with a formal assessment of our "experiment" is to see if it helps us chart our future. Maybe it did, maybe not. In any event, I think these are the "new" experiences for which we need to decide our criteria.
- John get haircut in salon
- Visit kids, by car
- Visit kids, by plane
- Visit friends, by car
- Visit friends, by plane
- Entertain outdoors
- Entertain indoors
- Have overnight guests
- A photo trip of a couple days (mountains or coast or ??)
- A longer trip for available activities (= outdoors, currently)
- A longer trip for available activities (= indoors)
- Another Truckee trip
And that's all I can think of for Thursday
That was Day 195
(This day in our history: Frankfurt Auto Show in 2011)
Friday, September 25. Day 6
Friday was even less exciting, except for Game Night.
We caught up on chores, including phone calls to places where we have action pending: cabinet guy, Audi, Jeep, Kaiser (heart and hearing aids), J. Patrick B&B, and maybe some I have forgotten. Then there were also web-based contacts for buying or arranging. These may have been precisely the chores that made vacation better - we did not feel bad skipping them then.
We had dinner out(side) at Irene's, our Tower District regular restaurant. The food was good, as it usually is, but dining twelve feet from noisy cars, trucks, and motorcycles made it less fun. We missed our standard inside table.
At 5:45, we started Game Night with Brian, Jen, and Geoff. We play a not-too-tough word game and generally just catch up on the basics. Grandson Rich will be starting "hybrid" classes in a week, where he goes into the school two days a week but continues at-home classes the rest of the time. It's hard to see how this will work, but kids - and teachers - are remarkably adaptive. Meanwhile in Frederick, Maryland, Ryan and Sean continue at-home learning, with adequate results according to Geoff.
The highlight of the games was Geoff playing with an avatar in his Zoom window. Fun. We will have to join in by next week.
That was Day 196
(This Day in our history: General Life in 2019 Fresno)
Saturday, September 26, COVID Day 197
We started chores early. Marianne did her Peloton session and then went off to the Saturday Farmer's Market. She needed to get ready for her patio coffee and chat with neighbor Geri. The weather was perfect and they spent hours catching up. We won't wear out our new table at this rate, but at least it got a little bit of use.
Meanwhile, I took the Jeep in for engine service, another warranty-covered computer reprogramming. The regularity of needing service is making me wonder if the red car will last until the Cybertruck I have on order will actually be shipped. The factory won't even be done until late 2021! Maybe I need a different Tesla, sooner. (I spent a few hours catching up on Tesla news, so maybe I am just being sold on the electric-car hype.)
When I did get back home, I needed to check up on Vern, another neighbor. He's had a bad week, with a "mini-stroke" and a night in the hospital Tuesday and a fall in his kitchen Thursday evening. He and I chat on his porch most mornings, and we enjoy each other's stories (even ones we've told before), so I cautioned him to take better care of himself. He said he'd try. That's all any of us can do.
In the afternoon, we had before dinner drinks and then barbecued steaks and another chef-prepared salad. Home dinners are ALWAYS good. After cleanup, Marianne had some time to get back into the art studio to work on her art class. Reportedly, it was a satisfying return to her comfort space. We both remain thankful for her art avocation during the time of COVID.
As for me, I decided to take a neighborhood walk, my first in a couple of weeks. Summer heat, wildfire smoke, and time away had interrupted my normal COVID escape and it was nice to get back to a "normal" activity. I took pictures, of course, mostly of places that are landmarks on my walks: houses, a flower, an old car, and a sunset. Nothing special, but that's what normal is nowadays, nothing special.
And that was Day 197
(This day in our history: The Netherlands in 2004)
Sunday, September 27, COVID Day 198
This was a no-plan day that lived up to limited expectations. The day dawned with the yellow light we now associate with up-wind wildfires. Locally, the Creek and SQF fires have topped over 450,000 acres and are still less than half contained. Newer fires have sprouted up in Sonoma wine country and are chasing people out of their homes. Rain in our area is still several weeks away.
The highlight for activity was grocery shopping at Trader Joe's. The store was operating under controls for how many people could get inside, but it still seemed pretty crowded. We'll opt for The Market or Whole Foods next time, more money, but more comfortable.
Beyond that, the day was reading for me, starting with the Sunday Fresno Bee and New York Times. However, I'll admit, the experience is pretty discouraging, between disease and the be-very-afraid messages from all political and economic quarters in the US and the world. To cheer up I finished my current book: "How to be an Antiracist". Interesting, but hardly light. Tomorrow, a murder mystery.
Both Marianne and I did our daily Peloton sessions. When I checked who else was riding on my particular Peloton "tour", I noted that all but one were less than half our age. Somehow, we need to get points for that.
After Peloton and Trader Joe's, Marianne returned to the art studio and, eventually, the kitchen. Throughout the day, her heart beat pattern moved between irregular and regular. She's asked Kaiser for an appointment with her cardiologist, but the first availability is a phone call on October 15th, about a month after her original request. Just what she (and I) need, one more worry.
That was COVID Day 198
(This day in our history: Lecce, Italy, 2012)
Monday, September 28, 199 days in modified isolation
Monday morning was another yellow-sky start. Our skies have smoke from old fires nearby and new fires up in Sonoma and Butte counties. Santa Rosa is being evacuated, again. Summer heat is forecast to hang around for another week and rain is unlikely for at least a month. And COVID cases are increasing locally, state-wide, nationally, and around the world.
I start the day by reading the New York Times and the latest expose on Donald Trump. The paper with "All the News That's Fit to Print" tells us Trump is a con man and a tax cheat. That can hardly be considered news, but this time the paper presented several pages of research. On my way to errands, I shared the paper with neighbor Vern, and we just shook our heads.
Those errands started with getting rid of our leaky propane tank and buy a new one. I decided against the standard exchange empty-for-full process, because the exchange tanks seem to be getting more run down and run-down propane tanks are not good for barbecue, or health.
Next, I checked if I could get interesting shots of fire service airplanes at Fresno Airport. This pair are not really interesting, but simply document that it is still fire season, as if the air would let us think otherwise.
Nearby the airport is Fresno's Tesla dealer. They had a red Model Y, the company's newest SUV, and I decided to investigate. I have a Tesla Cybertruck on order, but delivery is at least 18 months away, and we are beginning to tire of the repeated trips to the Jeep service shop, mostly for diesel motor problems. The simplicity of electric power is attractive, at least in theory. Shifting from the Jeep to the Model Y would require Marianne's buy-in and my getting over reluctance to spend lots of money on something novel. The Jeep is probably good enough. Hmmm ...
Overall, the day was just yellow. We had no energy for Peloton rides or most of the items on various to-do lists. I spent much of the day huddled in a chair, reading a British murder mystery. Marianne was not inspired to tackle her art and was bothered by an unruly heart, so she rested in the big chair, watching television.
Her dinner of slow-roasted pork was tasty and had filled the house with smells of good cooking. It had taken hours to prepare, but was gone in what seemed like minutes. Maybe in response, or maybe just because she was tired, she announced that we would no longer have "Sunday dinner" every day of the week. Understandable and I eat anything.
The sun set as yellow-red as it had arisen and air quality forecasts indicated that Tuesday would be more of the same. The weather forecast said it would be warmer as well.
Neither of us slept well and I am now hoping Tuesday might be better, but there is that presidential debate, so the odds are against it.
(This day in our history: Mount Hood and Bend, Oregon, 2015)
Tuesday, September 29, A milestone: 200 days in isolation
Looking for more "will", we treated ourselves to breakfast out, at a downtown French restaurant: LaBoulangerie. Just like in Paris, we sat at a sidewalk table and munched our croissants while watching the world go by. No china plates and surely waiters however.
OK, it wasn't the same world in Fresno as it is in Paris, New York, or San Francisco, but it was as historic a location as we could find. LaBou, as it is called, is in a street-side corner of The Pacific Southwest Building, a 1925 Art Deco building, the tallest between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the most expensive building built in California between 1920 and 1930.
After breakfast, we hurried home to putter. I puttered with computer stuff and Marianne puttered with house tending things, before she left for couple of hours of shopping therapy. That's actually something we both do, her more often perhaps, but my therapy sessions are often more expensive.
For me, it was mostly reading. I finished my murder mystery:The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz. It was a good read, in the style of a Sherlock Holmes who-done-it from a hundred years ago. The characters included a curmudgeonly detective and a story-writer-narrator, ostensibly writing the story of the detective's wizardry crime solving. The interesting twist was that the murder and crime investigation was largely true, although I would have sworn throughout that it was fiction.
The positive highlight for the afternoon was Tuesday Zoom Cocktails, although only Adrienne could join us this week. Gabby was busy being a mom and Rita was being busy. Even with a shortened crew, it was a nice chat, although it was shortened for ...:
The 2020 Presidential Debate. I'll admit, I could not stand the thought of listening to DT, so I opted for an hour-long Peloton ride. Far less painful. Marianne did watch and came away ranting, with high blood pressure. Really. I will not repeat what SHE said, but here, in no particular order, are some quotes from professional pundits:
- The Guardian: "The first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden deteriorated into an ugly display of contempt on Tuesday night,"
- The New York Post (very conservative): "It was painful and sordid and cringe-inducing, and that was almost entirely Trump’s doing." and "If you didn’t love Trump when the evening started and were’t already a fan of his WWE approach to politics, there had to be at least one moment, maybe two, when you listened to the leader of the Free World and thought, 'What a jerk.' "
- USA Today: "On Tuesday night, however, Biden was the relative adult in the room who on occasion made strong points. As for Trump, he was nothing short of a horror show."
- Aljezira (Andrew Mitrovica): "Trump proved, once more, that he is a pitiful excuse for a president. Calmness, thoughtfulness, maturity and rationality are anathema to Trump. Every disgraceful measure of this disgraceful president was on parade for a hellish evening" and "if you are an “undecided” voter in the face of Trump’s soul-and-synapse-shattering, nearly four-year-long cavalcade of craziness, perjury, and criminality then, my goodness, you have either been in a self-induced coma or some form of witness-protection programme."
- POLITICO: "The proceeding was an epic spectacle, a new low in presidential politics, a new high watermark in national shame. It is hard to imagine how the evening could have been more disrespectful to voters, or a more embarrassing glimpse into the state of American political culture ... "
- CNN: Jake Tapper: “That was a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck. That was the worst debate I have ever seen,” and, my favorite from Dana Bash, “You used some high-minded language,” Bash said to Tapper. “I’m just going to say it like it is, that was a shit show." and, from Van Jones:"The commander in chief refused to condemn white supremacy on the global stage, in front of my children, in front of everybody’s families. And he was given the opportunity multiple times to condemn white supremacy, ... and he gave a wink and a nod to a racist, Nazi, murderous organization that is now celebrating online, that is now saying, ‘We have a go-ahead.’"
- IndieWire, Ava Duvernay: “For those who hadn’t been listening for the past four years, Trump just told you that he ain’t leaving and that he is a white supremacist ... If that doesn’t get every American who is not white into overdrive to toss his ass – we may actually deserve what happens next.”
- NY Times, Frank Bruni: " ... a degradation of the presidency itself, which Trump had degraded so thoroughly already. He put on a performance so contemptuous, so puerile, so dishonest and so across-the-board repellent that the moderator, Chris Wallace, morphed into some amalgam of elementary-school principal, child psychologist, traffic cop and roadkill."
That was Day 200
(This day in our history: 2017, Sierra Art Trail)
Wednesday, September 30, COVID Day 201
My morning walk may have been the day's highlight, mostly because I enjoyed the picture-taking and I had not done much walking lately. The early light had a nice red in it, thanks to our fire season, and that added a nice pink to my first white flower photo of the day.
A few blocks over, our garage-decorating neighbor had a new message and his neighbor across the street had an autumn doll watching it all day long. While I was snapping the doll, I heard a noise behind me and turned quickly to see the skater-pulling dog. The pair was zooming along, both enjoying the morning exercise.
Otherwise, it was more flowers, roots, a squirrel, and a shadow. It's what I have a chance to see, in our neighborhood.
Back home, Marianne was getting her stationary bike exercise, something she and I remain enthusiastic about. I wish it would help to settle down her fluttering heart, but it doesn't seem to. It's a problem we need to address, somehow. After exercise and breakfast she returned to the art studio and the online lessons. She had homework she needed to finish and, as an ex-teacher, she's a dedicated student.
All this activity meant it was time for another "meal out", meaning take-out. We still have gift cards I bought at the beginning of the pandemic to support a couple of local shops when they had to suddenly shut down. Both are now open again for take-out and seem to be surviving, if just barely. We bought dinner at Quesadilla Gorilla and dessert at Ampersand Ice Cream with our credits. We continue to wish them good luck. They'll need it.
After dinner, I returned to reading, with one swing in the backyard for more flower pictures. I think I take these pictures for the same reason people buy flowers to decorate their homes and it doesn't matter if one has done it before. Today is another day.
Marianne initially was finishing the day resting in her big recliner up in the library/TV-room. About the time I was finishing my Peloton tour of the Costa Rican rain-forest, she got inspired to return to the art studio where she split her time between painting and catching up on pictures from friends, including a brand new grand daughter for Dale. A nice way to finish the day.
That was Day 201
(This day in our history: 2012, Pompeii)
Thursday, October 1, Pandemic separation day 202
The day dawned with yellow light streaming into the house. Fires north and west and south and east of us make it unlikely we will get clear skies for days. In Fresno county, this is compounded by the realty of harvest season, when dusty nut trees are shaken and sandy soils are tilled and plowed. This map of US air quality illustrates California's problem.
My morning was spent reading the NY Times, as usual. And there was mostly bad news, as usual. (By evening, reports of Donald Trump having COVID19 should also be noted as bad news, although schadenfreude is running rampant and not everyone agrees on "bad".) I took the paper to neighbor Vern, as usual, but found him stuck inside, very unusual. His fall earlier this week had banged up his chest and, at 92 years old, he is taking time to heal. We wish him well, with no reservation.
Our big event of the day was a noon appointment to check out a Tesla Model Y. I had "ordered" a Tesla Cybertruck last year, but since the Texas factory for it has not even been built yet, I expect delivery could be no sooner than 2022. Unfortunately, faith in the red Jeep is falling, and we seem to need a replacement before my stylish truck would be available. The Model Y is Tesla's latest offering and is getting good reviews, even from some experts who were not always Tesla fans. It was worth a look.
Salesman Tim, from the Fresno Tesla Center, had arranged a red Model Y for Marianne and me to test. Tesla models are pretty standard, so there was no need to select from a whole parking lot and, besides, all cars need to be ordered, not taken straight from a dealer's lot. We checked out the exterior and the roomy interior. The two-level rear trunk and the "frunk" up front, where an engine would be in an old-fashioned "ICE" (internal combustion engine) vehicle, were quite spacious. The arrangement reminded us of the good old days with the two-trunk Porsche Boxster that we traveled in around Europe, except much more space!
After the walk around, Tim gave us the briefest of instructions, mostly dealing with the novel "braking" design of the electric machine. Slowing down is mostly done by pushing energy back into the battery, without touching the brake pedal. "OK, I think I understand."
I drove gently out of the parking lot, out onto a main street, and up to a stop light. When the light turned green, I pushed down firmly on the accelerator (NOT "gas pedal") and the car fairly flew. I was at 70 mph in a few seconds. My passenger was laughing. A few minutes later, I went onto Highway 180, a real freeway, and punched it again. I was still accelerating at 70 mph with no apparent slowing. This may be a speeding-ticket magnet.
For the most part, the car drove ... like a car. Steering was precise and slowing and braking were excellent, intuitive to use. The giant 17-inch screen that holds most controls was easy enough to use, although I could see it would take hours to fully utilize all the options available. We didn't even try out the sophisticated "self-driving" features, although we noted that the Tesla was indeed noticing nearby cars and traffic signals. Spooky.
Back at the dealership, we went to the Tesla website to configure a car we MIGHT want. In fact, all cars are purchased via the website, not really via the salesman. (He is on salary, not commission.) I repeated the exercise at home to generate some images of what WOULD be our car, if we really go ahead. (Delivery time for the Model Y is 3 to 7 weeks, as of Friday.)
Not much else happened on Thursday. We did our exercising and Marianne had some art time. I read yet another disheartening book about despair in America. ("Tightrope" by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn)
That was Day 202
(This day in our history: 2001, Helsinki and a new car)
Friday, October 2, Isolation Day 203
Friday dawned yellow-red, as days have lately. We are getting tired of the smoke and it may have been made worse by the few days when clear air showed up. Now, all we can do is pray for better wind and, someday, rain.
E-mail news was headed up by a cute Tesla character saying we have a real order. Car buying "online" is painless and even a little fun, far better than the experience five or six years ago.
Now, all we need to do is sell the Jeep (Tesla trade-in received, but may find better), order a wall charger (done), call electrician to install, buy floor mats (done), shift insurance, and a dozen more small tasks. Officially, the car should be delivered between October 23rd and November 20th, but internet rumors note that these estimates are pretty rough and actual delivery could be from days to late December.
The rest of the day was as plain as they are nowadays: emails, a little reading, an art class for Marianne, art practice, and, for me, lots of YouTube about the Tesla Y. I am concluding the Tesla community is a bit cult-like, but YouTube can provide all sorts of education about the good and bad of the products. And waste a lot of time.
Our Friday Game Night was just Colorado and California, but still fun. We get to learn about that family, and that's good. Next week, Richard will start a school program with two in-person days each week and continued tele-education for the rest. It's an experiment, as are all education programs in 2020. We hope it works, both for education and for health. As for the game? Half of us won and half did not.
That was Day 203
(This day in our history: 1998 House Search)
Saturday, October 3, Day 204
Saturday was Juanita day and while she does her cleaning work, we leave to keep everyone safe. Marianne's option was, as usual, her Art Hut and that kept her busy for hours.
My option was to go to the Jeep repair shop to have the windshield washer fixed. A week ago, I had said I could do the repair myself, and just took the part home. When I looked at how complex the small water tube was, I concluded otherwise. Can anyone do anything with their car nowadays?
To kill the two hours, I stayed outside and wandered the neighborhood, struggling for something interesting. The car lot itself had lots of new cars, but as a new Tesla fan-boy, I have to say I was struck with how complex ICE (internal combustion engine) cars are, especially under the hood. The Model Y hood (aka: frunk) reveals an empty bin. And these ICE cars are expensive, this Jeep Wrangler was almost $10,000 more than my Model Y.
On the drive out of the Clovis Jeep dealer, I found myself in the middle of a Trump 2020 truck and Jeep parade. Since I was white, and driving a Jeep without Biden stickers, I felt safe, but all I could think of was stumbling into a KKK parade, except the hoods are now red caps and the sheets are desecrated and angry flags. Intimidating, by design.
Back home I noted that Cambridge Avenue was sponsoring our annual April Block Sale. Our own block had no participation, but others did. I just could not imagine any justification for the added exposure to strangers. We will try again next year. Or the next.
After that, it was all normal stuff: read, Netflix (Marianne), art, rest, and dinner. This last was a chili dog and corn bread, with broccolini for vitamins. I had to spend almost an hour on the bike to compensate.
As we turned in Saturday, we decided on a Sunday morning extravaganza, a breakfast at the International House of Pancakes, inside their newly-erected tent. It's amazing how simple our tastes have become and how spacing and open-air determine our taste.
That was Day 204
(This day in our history: Our Porsche factory in Uusikaupunki, 2001)
Sunday, October 4, Covid Day 205
Sunday Air Quality Index was 168, the sun was red, and the empty street was hazy. No IHOP.
After I prepared a pancake breakfast at home, we went about our day. When I went to write this diary 24-hours later, my memory was blank about what that day held. I asked Marianne, and she too could not think of much. No shopping. No walking (too smoky). No dining out. A real pandemic day.
After a struggle, we could note that in the morning Marianne wrote a book report and I went to chat with Vern. Through the day, I continued Tesla YouTubes, learning about our pending (when?) delivery. Marianne rested, mostly, as her heart flutter is stripping away energy. Neither of us did our Peloton turn.
Dinner was simple, baked potato and salad, but I include a picture because it was all I could find on my collection of cameras. Somehow, this seemed more like pandemic food than other home dinners, but it was tasty.
The rest of the day was spent with screens, a NRA championship game for me (the Heat beat the Clippers) and Netflix for Marianne, plus a little news.
That was Day 205
(This day in our history: Our new home, 1998)
Monday, October 5, Corona Virus Isolation Day 206
I was sure Monday would be more activity than Sunday, but that's not saying much. I took a dawn walk, just to force something to happen. Out the front door, one of our last roses had shriveled as if IT had a virus. Nope, just fall. The pre-dawn light was faint, but pleasant. Out in the street, I peeked toward a neighbor's window for a Hopperesque shot.
Gradually, the sun came up with an encouraging hint of clouds. Now, if they could just build up to make some rain and wash away the smoke. Toward the end of my walk, I noticed that neighbor Romi had removed most of the cars that usually surrounded his house and boarded up all doors and windows. He has always been a friendly sort, eager to chat when I see him on my walks. I wonder what that's all about.
Back home, Marianne was trying a morning bike ride, slow and short. She was in the saddle, despite being very tired from her unruly heart. (Later in the day, she would finally get a phone call from her cardiologist, and they worked out a new action plan to address things: adding medicine now and a cardioversion next week, after getting tested for COVID and receiving another EKG. Strangely, the prospect of getting shocked seemed encouraging.)
I did my morning thing with the New York Times. There was more discouraging news about the virus and the lunatic/super-spreader we have for a president. I read as much as I could stand and then went over to Vern's to share. We agree. It's a mess and it is not getting better.
And that was about it for the day, since I can' even remember what the afternoon held, other than dinner. I know I looked at Tesla YouTube videos, too many, and Marianne consulted with her doctor (see above) rested.
That was Day 206
(This day in our history: Nordlingen, Fremdingen, and Dinklesbuhl in 2008 - I love these names!)
Tuesday, October 6, Isolation Day 207
The only plans we tried to make was for breakfast out. Marianne checked a new place, southeast of town, that seemed to have an imaginative menu. My fall-back was The Wild Fig north in Coarsegold. Unfortunately, both were closed on Tuesday and we seem to have a schedule of full mornings for the next week or so. Breakfast treat will have to wait.
One required task for the day was to unpack all the kitchen drawers to prepare for Drawer & Shelf Solutions to come in and make our drawers convenient and modern. We started the multi-part process by taking advantage of the unpacking to really think what can be thrown or donated. For example, we had at least five glass lids for pots we haven't had in years. Thrown. (Do you want any?) The next step will be the contractor's, build everything, but then we will need to put back only those things we think we will use. I wonder if that will see more give-or-ditch bags.
Marianne rested, did chores, or tried some art work, I continued my puttering concerning the new Tesla. I watched YouTube. I read the manual. Most important, Marianne and I talked and decided we needed to change our order. We are going to shift to the Performance version of the Tesla Y. Why, on earth might you say? The non-performance version would be as quick as anything we have ever owned, so why put up with the inconvenience of less ground clearance, harsher riding tires, and decreased battery mileage? After considerable thought, it boiled down to simply that this is our last opportunity to buy a performance car that can still be a daily driver. Fun involves sacrifice.
Speaking of fun, since our drive for breakfast did not pan out, we changed to just a country drive up in the Sierra foothills.
We had no destination, so we took Shaw Avenue east as far as we could and then turned when we had to. The scenery went from strip malls, to suburban homes, to large and small rural homes, to foothill ranches. This road we'd never tried before was scenic, in a late-summer, smoky California sort of way. This is not our kind of living because it is surprisingly isolated, and because all we saw were Trump 2020 and Devin Nunes political signs. Maybe your taste?
After a half-hour of wandering, we found ourselves heading back to Fresno on Tollhouse Road, the highway we'd taken any number of times up to the Shaver Lake area. We passed several "Thank you firefighters" signs, an appropriate sentiment for an area that would have been decimated if the Creek Fire had moved just a few miles south. In town, we stopped at the Fresno State Farm Store for their famous Bulldog hot dogs. In keeping with our breakfast experience, there were no hot dogs this day. Oh well, we still managed to fill a bag with fresh fruits and produce.
After a quick dinner, we opened up our Tuesday Zoom Cocktail party. Adrienne, Rita , and Peter were all there so we filled the hour with plenty of talk. First, the conversation concerned our disaster president, but then it moved on to family and grandkids, including a brief appearance by Elle, Adrienne's granddaughter. As usual, the part y was fun, fun enough, but everyone expressed the wish to return to in-person parties. Some day.
That was Covid Isolation Day 207
(This day in our history: 2001, The Arctic Circle)
Wednesday, October 7, Isolation Day 208
This was Kitchen remodel day, or at least kitchen drawer remodel day. The drawer guy Walt showed up as promised at 8:30 and set up shop in the patio and squeezed into our little kitchen. Like all remodel jobs, the first task was demolition and he took apart our thirteen 85-year-old drawers, adding "patina" to the off-white painted drawer fronts. Our new kitchen may end up looking more vintage than ever.
The rest of the day was just-plain-normal: read and share NYT; Peloton (M. only); arrange garage for new Tesla charger (J); a little art; get to-go dinner from Heirloom (tasty, enough).
That got us to the time for the Vice Presidential debate between an intelligent woman and the Trump lap-dog. Marianne watched it all; I could handle only a few 30-second pieces. As with the presidential debate, I find myself so worried that something wrong could happen and collapse the Biden-Harris support, that I just don't watch.
Of course, by all reports the only standout was the fly from the 1960s movie: The Little House of Horror", the sci-fie movie where the carnivorous plant kept saying "Feed me." Did VP Pence say anything else?
Senator Harris won votes with the simple line: "I am speaking." My decision to waste time watching Tesla YouTube sessions proved correct.
That was Day 208
(This day in our history: 2016, Marianne's Art and John's Photos)
Thursday, October 8, Covid Day 209
Thursday started early. We watched the red sun rise while waiting in line for drive-through Covid testing at Kaiser. Marianne needed results before the Tuesday cardioversion and we certainly presume the results will be negative. We can't imagine the complications a positive result would cause.
She also needed an ECG and those results were as-expected: her heart is still fluttering. To complete her medical morning, she had shoulder physical therapy and stopped by the flu tent for a shot.
I killed time also getting a flu shot and working in errands. The red Jeep needed washing, in anticipation of getting a trade-in estimate from CarMax some time before the new Tesla arrives. That is still weeks away, and we probably won't really get rid of the car before we have a delivery date for the Model Y. Anyone need a nice clean 5-year old Jeep Grand Cherokee with all the options?
We made it back home just in time to let Walt come in and finish the kitchen drawer remodel. It took him another six hours, making it about one hour of in-home labor per drawer over the two day installation. Measuring, estimating, ordering parts, shop preparation, and commuting probably took even more. He will not get rich this way.
We did not have the energy to immediately refill all the empty space, but I hope everything was worth it. I think so, but with remodels one never knows for sure until new operation has taken over for the old.
Otherwise, the day was uneventful, like most days. We exercised. We watched screens. I took pictures of the backyard roses in their fall colors, just before everything dies away for winter. As I write this note, it is below 60F for the first time in months, a sure sign of the end of summer, if not the arrival of winter.
That was Covid Day 209.
(This day in our history: 2001 to the edge of Finland)
Friday, October 9, Day 210
I started the day early with a neighborhood walk. I had not checked neighbor Tom Key's drawings in a week, so I risked missing one of his postings. He initiated a pandemic tradition of garage-door drawings, noting something important about each week and I have made a point of photographing each one. It's kind of "liking" his social posting. However, when I showed up, the door was bare, just cleaned! (Note the blue rag in the picture.)
Tom showed up and we started talking. He had just cleaned off his memorial to Eddie Van Halen, who had passed away on Tuesday. I had seen the drawing, but skipped a picture at the time. Tom had started the week with a drawing of John Lennon, in honor of his 80th birthday on the 9th, but shifted with Van Halen's passing. Now, he was going back to a Lennon homage. The good news was that Tom could send me the two garage scenes I had missed!
After the garage excitement, I continued on my neighborhood walk. I passed the home of James Martinez, a young political activist that I met a few years ago, when he was a Starbucks barrista near my gym. He has since finished graduate school and even had a job on Senator Harris' team for awhile. Now he is running for a seat on the school commission, hopefully a starting step on a long career.
Our neighborhood is preparing for Halloween, although most folks don't know what will be happening. The pirate settlement a block away was put out, as usual, but I wonder who will be welcoming kids to their doorstep this year and which parent will allow strangers' candy into their child's colorful bag? Cambridge Avenue has a tradition of a joint goodie distribution location, but in a socially-distanced year, who knows? The Coronavirus is the real monster this year.
Marianne had originally scheduled a coffee klatch with a couple friends, but had to cancel because she is "in quarantine" after yesterday's Covid19 test and before next Tuesday's hospital visit, another disappointment caused by our most unusual year. (At least I HOPE it will prove to be an unusual year.) Instead, she worked on filling and organizing all the new drawers and cupboards in the kitchen. Fun? Somewhat.
I made myself busy with office chores, the most exciting of which was a phone call to change our Tesla Model Y order from a "Long Range" version to "Performance". When it comes, we will be able to zip from zero to 60 mph is 3.5 seconds, among the quickest cars on the road. And we will claim to be environmentally conscious, because it's electric.
Part of preparation for the new car was getting a charging station installed. Ben Catron, from Catron Contracting, the folks who had rebuilt our garage, came over as soon as I had the new equipment. His eagerness is why I like using them. Three hours later, we had a modern-looking charging station and several holes in the garage walls. I am assured the holes will get fixed Monday. Now we just need a car.
Beyond this, I'm not sure much happened before our 5pm Game Night with Brian, Jen, and Geoff. We caught up on the week's developments, a little, and played our simple word-guessing game: Codenames. This has become a bit of a tradition and we welcome it because the distance to my kids and grandkids has always presented an impediment to staying close. This is a bit better.
That was Day 210
(This day in our history: Nana's Norwegian Hometown, 2001)
Saturday, October 10, Covid Day 211
I started the day with a quick run to the Vineyard Farmer's Market. In the Before Times, we went almost every Saturday, but when the pandemic hit, some vendors and customers stopped showing up. Later, as people realized outside shopping was inherently safer than inside, the market got too crowded. This time, I was early enough to beat the crowds and also noticed that the old merchants seemed to have returned. I bought a few market-only specialties: locally-roasted coffee, home made meat pies, and Technicolor farm eggs.
Back home, Marianne did her bike ride and then conferenced with Claudia about their art class. These two artists are very dedicated students! I wonder if they could have been so dedicated without the limits imposed by the pandemic. A small silver lining in the cloud.
After the market, I went on a little neighborhood walk, first checking Tom Key's latest garage-door homage to John Lennon. I suppose these messages are also courtesy of the at-home time allowed by the lock-down.
Next, I went to chat some more with Vern. He and Joan had just completed their ballots and she was getting ready to hand deliver their votes to the polling office downtown. Marianne and I will probably be a day or two later, but still weeks ahead of the actual election. Have you voted yet?
The rest of the day was quiet, as usual. Walt, the drawer guy, came to fix a couple problems. I did my Peloton exercise. I have settled on an every-other-day routine that seems to be working.
Marianne prepared a fine meal, using only the freshest ingredients, except perhaps the sweet potatoes that looked old, very old. Since the air was clearing and the temperature was quite pleasant, we ate on the new patio table. Unfortunately, flies were eating on the same table and mosquitoes were munching on our ankles. I suppose every creature has a right to life, I just wish these little buggers didn't live so close.
That was Day 211
(This day in our history: A 2010 note to Marianne)
Sunday, October 11, COVID Isolation Day 212
I woke before dawn and, for the first time in weeks, could look up and see stars. A good omen for another quiet day. The first chore was reading the Sunday papers, New York Times and Fresno Bee. The Bee takes ten minutes, maybe twenty. The stories about local newspaper reporting disappearing are true here, because in just the few years I have been subscribing, the Fresno Bee has gone from a locally-printed paper with several full-time reporters to printing in Sacramento and hardly any full-time reporters. The McClatchy family founded the chain in 1857, but sold it just a couple of months ago. Reading the Sunday New York Times of course takes longer, but leaves a hole for local or state or even regional coverage. Google is becoming our news curator, sending us to any number of dubious sources.
Speaking of the need to be informed, sitting around the kitchen table, Marianne and I completed our 2020 ballots. The top spot was easy, but we needed to choose four local people for national and state representatives as well as school boards. The dozen direct-law propositions were even more difficult, as each side makes arguments that have some sense. It's only when one digs, including seeing who is behind each proposal, that it generally becomes clear what we want to choose, clear enough anyway. (I think this process of law-making is fundamentally wrong and an admission that our elected law-makers are failing.)
The rest of the day was unremarkable. We both avoided bike exercise, claiming that every other day is good enough. ( "... enough" is our pandemic standard of performance.) On Monday as I write this, I can't remember that we did much at all: some art I suppose, for the artist; Tesla YouTube research for the nerd; The last NBA game of the strange 2019-2020 season. Marianne's spaghetti dinner was tasty, as expected.
After dinner we drove downtown and deposited our votes into the ballot box just outside the Voter Registration office, figuring this places them withing a hundred feet of where they will be counted. It was a relief to get this done, and now all we need to do is wait and worry.
In celebration, we stopped at Ampersand Ice Cream on the way back. Marianne joined the socially-distancing line up for Sunday treats. The business at this local establishment is not what it was a year ago, but they seem to be surviving. Surviving enough.
That was Day 212
(This day in our history: 2009, Strasbourg France)
Monday, October 12, Covid Day 213
Mondays seem to fill with chores, and this one started with some garage repair. Josh, from Catron Contracting, came by nice and early to patch the holes electrician Ben had made last Friday. While he worked, I tried to get a handle on cleaning up the garage. Now that the weather has cooled off, it's pleasant to be out of the air conditioned house and putter at things that needed puttering for the last four month.
Meanwhile, Marianne used her time for chores and a bit of art, more chores than art I'm afraid. After Josh left, I headed down to deliver the NY Times to Vern and Joan and continued my chatty morning. Eventually, a couple more neighbors showed up and the conversation grew. (I found that I became uncomfortable when the outdoor group went past three people, even if everyone was properly distant. I may never be social again.)
While sitting with Vern, we heard a thump and looked out to see a juvenile hawk thrashing in the grass after apparently banging into a window. Moments later, the dazed hunter was back to a high perch, looking for breakfast. (I only had an iPhone, so the picture is pretty grainy.) I hope we can convince him to stay and raise another family in the neighborhood. We need distractions.
Not much else was different for Monday. I enjoyed a long Peloton ride, getting completely exhausted. I think it's good for my soul and, for my body, the every-other-day schedule works well. Marianne did her ride too, as much as her misbehaving heart allowed.
After another good dinner, on the patio with mosquito spray, Marianne became a hair stylist. I think this is the third or fourth haircutting she's done and it worked out pretty well, at least from my standpoint. It has to be hard, given how little she has to work with.
From there on, the day settled into our normal evening routine: Marianne watched her Netflix series, and a little news, and I wasted time with Tesla YouTubes. I have never anticipated a car this much! I think I am catching the Tesla and electric car religion.
As the sun was going down, I tried some backyard pictures, just to stay in practice. A bird up on the power pole was particularly noisy, something we've noticed has been happening more since the fire smoke cleared. Dirty air has left it's mark, however, as even our copper whirligig has a patina of sticky dust. When (if?) we get rain, it will take quite a bit to wash off trees, plants, streets, and yard art.
That was Day 213
(This day in our history: Home events in Fresno, 2014)
I'll end this diary page here, because on Tuesday Marianne should get her heart back in better order. We will start the day at Kaiser Medical Center where they will shock some sense into her heartbeat. We hope.
So, still reading? Thanks, I think.
John and Marianne