Fall Wave

October 28 to November 15

Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,

Covid cases are growing. Hospitals are filling. Soon, ground will be increasingly opened and filled back in. Even the arrival of a new American president-elect will not change these things, except perhaps after many months or a year.

In ten days, we hope to see Gabby, Ava, and Sam for an in-person visit, outside and masked, I suppose. This would be our most intimate visit in over seven months. It will be a highlight of these daily entries.

We may also have Tesla Delivery Day during this edition of the Trotter Pandemic Diaries, although by company tradition, delivery notification is notoriously uncertain. We are looking forward to the novelty of a zippy electric car, even if real road trips will be limited for the foreseeable future.

Now, on to the ordinary stuff.


Wednesday, October 28, Covid Isolation Day 229

My day started with diary work, a lot of diary work. The Sacramento session involved a few hundred photos and that needed to be boiled down to a couple of handfuls. I enjoy the process, as it helps the remembering, but it does take hours. While I puttered with writing, Marianne did so with reading - of her screen, in bed, with coffee. It's all a nice, practiced ritual.

Action started with a return to the Peloton bike, first for Marianne and then for me. We each have settled on favorite teachers and we find this is also a comforting ritual, even if it hurts just a little. I noticed when we were away on our little trip, that I missed my serious, every-other-day, leg and heart workout. With the leftover energy, I cleaned up several days worth of leaves from the patio. It's all good.

Marianne went out to get the Audi fixed, just air in the tires, but it was a worrisome alarm that had been caused by the arrival of cooler weather. We followed her excursion with barbecued hamburgers from Chase's Chop Shop. We definitely recommend the jalapeƱo-and-cheese-flavored patties. Our meal included talking time, a routine we both value and enjoy. In one of these conversations, we decided to cancel next week's trip up to Mariposa, because we did not want extra Coronavirus infection risk. Cases have rebounded locally, in California, nationwide, and throughout the world. What will we do?

One thing I will do is continue to go down to the Selland porch and exchange stories with Vern. On this day, he was down a bit, a common enough occurrence in days of pandemic, but maybe more so in men above a certain age. He said he appreciated our talks and I assured him that I did as well. Thinking about it, Vern is the only face-to-face socializing I do, other than Marianne, of course. Facebook, Facetime, Zoom, diaries, Skype, and phone calls happen, but face-to-face has almost disappeared.

posterskelletonsAfter dinner I walked in the neighborhood, another routine that helps in these times. Houses are decorated with skeletons, ghosts, and political posters. Halloween and elections will happen within the week and, of the two, elections are far scarier, the ultimate trick or treat. A continuation of the current administration is unthinkable, although even a Biden-Harris win would not make our problems of national division disappear. Somehow, it is this disease, the disease of hate and division, that is worse than Coronavirus 19 and will take much more effort to cure.Key door

I checked in on Tom Key and his garage door signs and found him creating his Halloween contribution. He said it would be a drawing of the earth, opened up to reveal a skull inside, "dark, for these times". I'll get the full picture tomorrow.

police cadetsCloser to home, I watched as Fresno City College police cadets were trained in arrest techniques. I have to say, these young men and women did not seem to match the threatening image of out-of-control city police. Of course, it was only training, but It was encouraging to see a diverse group of young people heading toward the police force.

Back on Cambridge Avenue, Doug, a friend of a neighbor, was showing off his 1937 Packard. The limousine-length classic fit right in on our old-house street.

packard Doug
grill ornament inside engine hub

moon

After the sun went down, an orange moon came up, a reminder that our skies are still not very clean. The full moon should be good for Halloween however!

That was Day 229

(This day in our history: Mamo's Vacation in 2006)


Thursday, October 29, Covid Day 230

There was not much planned and not much happened.

Blains porchTom's WorldMy morning walk passed by the neighbor's new garage drawing - "Tom's World". A little dark, but it is the Halloween season. Back closer to home, I stopped to chat with neighbor Blain and her parents visiting from Louisiana. From there, it was across Cambridge Avenue to solve more problems with Vern. We solved them all, almost.

No exercise programs for either of us, unless one counts grocery shopping for Marianne. Later, we both went to Bank of America to close the last of Magdalena's accounts. This may be the last of the official estate executor duties for Marianne, so it's a milestone of sorts.

I called the Tesla sales office and found that our car should roll out of the Fremont factory next Friday, November 6, although that will only be a reliable prediction when we are officially notified, with a vehicle identification number. We're ready, even if we have little chance of a long trip in the new car.

bird peckingcamoDinner was barbecued halibut from Marianne's shopping trip, eaten on the patio where we were entertained by a woodpecker working to get bugs from our old cypress tree. The bird was hard to photograph, because its plumage blended with the old tree's bark and because the little head moved so much. Now that I know what to listen for, maybe I'll get a more interesting shot on another day.

That was Day 230

(This day in our history: Chin and Peter visit in 2015)


Friday, October 30, Covid Day 231

As I write this a day later, I have little memory of what happened on Friday. I shopped at Costco, I guess that's something. Marianne had more physical therapy and then did art for mental therapy. That's when I took colorful backyard pictures for my own mental health.

berriesbluemoth

I do remember Game Night with Brian, Jen, and Geoff. Our Friday tradition held and we got updates on family events, mostly school stories for three grandsons. And everyone was healthy. We're thankful there are no horror stories, but do wish there was more happening than "surviving".

That was COVID Day 231, at least what I remmber of it on Day 232

(This day in our history: A Pommersfelden Evening in 2005)


Saturday, October 31, Halloween, Isolation Day 232

Another slow day, kind of like all of them lately. I wrote a diary and Marianne did some art classwork. We both did our end-of-the-month bookkeeping where she tracks our spending and I look at overall, where do we stand. Other than splurges like a new car or improved kitchen drawers, the pandemic has kept spending low. Of course, we are thankful that we are not like most Americans, worried a little or a lot about our own employment.

To make better use of our patio as the weather cools, we decided we need a heater or two, one for just us and another, perhaps, for a distanced and outside guest or two. Earlier trips to Lowe's, Home Depot, and Fresno Ag (= Ace Hardware) had discovered that none of those tall tree-like heaters, like restaurants use, are available. Sure, the restaurants have bought them all.

new insertold fireplaceWe stopped by Energy House, a specialty store in town, on the off chance they might have something. No, nothing for outdoor was on offer. However, the place was filled with fires and we got distracted. What about a gas insert for our 85-year-old wood-burning fireplace that we never use? Two hours later, we had a very nice insert heading our way. It's another splurge, but the local air quality district will give us $3,000 to defray the cost. Hopefully, we will fire it up before the holidays.

Otherwise, the only excitement was Halloween, although we did not know exactly how tricking and treating should be done in these times. Neighbors opted for the Cambridge Avenue tradition of using "the commons" for a gathering.

tablegoblinscrowds

We, in the interest of pandemic safety, set out candies on our front porch and viewed the goblins through the front door peep-hole. I was surprised that we got as many customers as we did, enough that all the goodies were taken before the evening ended. That's a good thing, since WE don't need the extra calories.

dooreloisehazelothers

That was Day 232

(This day in our history: Dresden, 2004)


Sunday, November 1, Isolation Day 233

The First of November was even slower than the last of October. We reset the clocks for the end of Daylight Savings Time, read the Sunday Times and Bee, reset the irrigation to the one-day-a-week winter allowance, and checked on Tesla status. (No news on that front, so we are still tentative for delivery in about ten days.)

I Skyped with Geoff and we concluded their Maryland day would not be much more exciting than our California one. Marianne also had a Zoom conference with some school chums and I phoned my Cousin Tim. That's about it for socializing nowadays, but each call, by Zoom or Skype or old-fashioned phone, is welcome. We need to do more.

Worry about the results of the Tuesday elections, and the potential post-election chaos, was expressed in every conversation. That worry also makes sleeping more difficult. What about you?

That was Day 233

(This day in our history: Vaxjo, Sweden, to Berlin in 2001)


Monday, November 2, Covid Day 234. Almost elections

There were no significant plans and not much accomplishment. Is there a connection?

I checked on the car delivery and learned that our Tesla Model Y is in "firm production" and will "gate" (leave th factory) on Saturday, one day later than the previous report. We're still excited. On my out-of-the-house run, I did buy the two table-size heaters for the patio, for when we are entertaining guests this fall and winter. Or, when we pretend to be entertaining guests.

rearrangingReportedly, everyone in America is focusing on their homes during the pandemic, and we are no exception. To reflect the new fireplace we ordered Saturday, we rearranged the living room for the first time since we moved in, almost seven years ago. The center of activity shifted from the center of the room to in front of the fireplace. We can't wait for there to be a real (gas) fire here on chilly mornings.

toward FP toward door

And that was about it, except for Monday Night Football for me and a little Netflix for Marianne. Otherwise, it was just worrying about the election tomorrow and the post-election uncertainty. The Chinese curse of
"May you live in interesting times" rings true right now.

Day 234 done.

(This day in our history: Art and more in 2017)


Tuesday, November 3, Election Day, Isolation Day 235

Elections, that's all Tuesday, November 3, was about. However, we had voted weeks ago, so all that was left was waiting. We decided that, for most of the day, we would simply not tune in to television or internet "projections" and, instead, connect when real results started being reported.

heaterInstead, I did chores. I built this heater so we can eat out in the cooler weather. It may even be a better solution than the restaurant-style floor-mounted versions. We'll see on another day since Tuesday was in the high 70s and low 80s. I also replaced a small light fixture in the coat closet. Two successes make a good day, in retirement.read

Marianne did her chores as well, and had a chance to sit in the sun and read a new cook book too. I consider it a good sign when a new cook book arrives.

porchI visited the Sellands to deliver the NYT and to get their sense of voting. I expressed confidence about VP Biden's chances, but caution with respect to the senate. Mostly, I could not imagine life under Trump for more years. Folks on the porch nervously agreed.

houseBy mid-afternoon it was time to set up for the ballot watching. Our Biden-Harris signs were standing proudly and we hung an American flag since this could be a new independence day. It seems that, lately, the right-wing has taken over flag waving (and flag mis-coloring) and I object to that. It's OUR flag too. Their giant flags flapping from pickup trucks remind me of white sheets from horses and their red caps remind me of pillow-case hats from the bad old days.room

We set up our poll-watching and Zoom-conferencing in our "new" living room. Friends Adrienne and Rita and husbands joined in on the call and everyone was nervous. Early results were favoring Trump, not surprising since these included small southern states. Larger states would take longer to count votes and, of course, more western states close polls later. Nothing was conclusive by the time we signed out Zoom and, for Marianne and me, it was all just too tense and emotional. We turned off televisions shortly after exiting Zoom.

For the rest of the evening, we hid our heads. Marianne watched Netflix while Gabby sent her texts from time to time with election updates. I watched Tesla YouTubes, and occasionally flipped over to a news feed. We did not stay up.

That was Day 235.

(This day in our history: Lowe's Motor Speedway in 2007)


Wednesday, November 4, Covid Isolation Day 236 and Election Day 2

We were both up early and quickly discouraged by the news we saw. The presidential election was too close to call, although the orange lie- machine did so anyway. For me, the most discouraging result was that America remains so bitterly divided. Half of America voted to re-elect a truly evil president. No matter how that turns out, those people remain among us and I will do my best to never interact with them. "Red" states just got removed from out travel itinerary. No more business for Home Depot and Hobby Lobby and whatever other operations that supported the incumbent. It may be all we have left to do.tthan

Despite the early start, the day proceeded uneventfully, as they seem to do lately. On my morning walk, I crossed paths with Ethan as he walked Ruthie. The FSU history professor (Ethan, not Ruthie) expressed his concern with the election results and the apparent abundance of bigoted and prejudiced people in America. After he walked off, Blain, our other history prof, came out and discussed the situation in a similar vein. Both are experts in the prejudice of the bad old days and they recognize the parallels with today. Sad.

On the rest of my walk, I thought and took leaf, flower, and wildlife pictures. The thoughts were dark, but the leaves and flowers were colorful and cheerful enough. I'll share the cheer and color.

leavesdandelionredsquirrel

art

The rest of the day just happened. Dinner came and went. We had a short Zoom call with Adrienne, planned to cover the election results, but the presidential election story was not yet over. I think we'll do these calls until it is.

After the call, I retreated back to YouTube (I need to stop!) and Marianne to her art studio, to finish class homework. She is much more productive than I am.

That was Covid Day 236 and Election 2020 Day 2

(This day in our history: Berlin Museums in 2001)


Thursday, November 5, Pandemic Day 237, and Election Day 3

Marianne had a morning call to Germany, one where she needed to talk in German. She is understandably out of practice and rusty, but chatting with a good friend is still possible.

While she talked, I did my normal morning routine: sip coffee, write a diary entry, and read the NY Times. The news was centered on the not-done-yet presidential election and the cliff-hanger would hang for the rest of the day. I know these are historic moments, but we need to return to less-historic news events. Maybe tomorrow.

Our major excursion of the day was getting new mobile phones. Marianne's iPhone 6 was getting long in the tooth (and short in the battery) so we decided to take advantage of an AT&T offer for generous trade-in allowances. It was so generous that I traded in my iPhone 8 for more than I paid a few months ago. Going into a phone store and getting new devices is almost as stressful as going into a car dealership for a new car. Mostly, its the plethora of decisions needed that wears me down: device (iPhone 12s); memory (64 GB for Marianne, 128Gb on mine for "planned" videos), color (green and black), data program (unlimited); "free" options (HBO Max, which I think we will disconnect); insurance (yes); and whatever else we were told about. After almost two hours, we walked away with nothing new in our hands, but a promise that boxes with new phones would arrive at home shortly. We'll see.

Otherwise, it was another plain day, but one with a Peloton session, so I felt righteous. Dinner was good, as always, and Marianne made more cookies in anticipation of our Saturday with Ava, Sam, and Gabby. I don't object to any of this stuff.

House chores included putting the trash at the curb, for dumping tomorrow. Kind of like the pending election results. I hope.

That was Pandemic Day 237.

(This day in our history: San Louis NWR Birds, 2016)


Friday, November 6, COVID-19 Day 238, Election Day 4

My morning was spent checking news. No firm conclusion yet on presidential election. Biden saying "count the votes". Trump saying "America is corrupt and I am being robbed."

Then I checked the neighborhood: Nothing remarkable from Joan and Vern, the major source of Cambridge Avenue current events news. Several residents have escaped the election worry by going to mountain homes.

Back home, I called the local Tesla center to see where our car stood. No VIN yet, but it is still shown to be leaving the factory this weekend. I wonder.lemons

colorFinally, I inspected the back yard. The citrus crop will be pretty big this year! Limes are ready, lemons almost. Oranges, grapefruit, tangelos, and pomellos might be pickable in about a month. Our fall colors are about what they will be. I need to check the neighborhood for better examples.

However, the big event for the day would be the installation of our gas-fired fireplace insert. Larry and Alex showed up as promised at about 10:45 and proceeded to do it all in a few hours. I find these specialized house construction projects interesting, so I take pictures, lots of pictures.

My job was to clear the workspace. Larry drilled from above,
while Alex did the dirty work of running the gas line and electricity in the crawl space.

ready drill crawl
Outside, the team brought the air supply and exhaust ducts up to the top of our tall chimney. Better them than me. Larry then did his specialty: cutting the insert surround to fit exactly where we wanted it.
climb drag cut
Step by step, the pieces came together.
ready inserted
fit surround almost
Until there was a roaring (?) fire,
making our living room far more inviting
as winter, California-style, sets in.
fire roaring

All this house activity pushed us to having dinner out. We walked to Quesadilla Gorilla, initially thinking we would get take-out and come home, but the place was empty and had socially-distanced tables, so we made the little hole-in-the-wall our second meal inside a restaurant in seven months. It felt OK, but I wonder if we are joining other folks in pandemic complacency. California is not as bad as many other states and Fresno is hanging in at levels low enough to allow inside dining. How will we make it for another six months or more?

zoom set upOur final activity of the day was Friday Game Night with "the kids" in Colorado and Maryland. We covered what was new, and the answers seemed to all be variations of "nothing much". The grandkids are still getting along doing remote or hybrid schooling (remote plus in-school). Workers are still working from home. Our gaming skills suffered from sleepiness and, for us, the cosiness of our new fireplace.

New rituals like this are part of our coping mechanisms and we value them. Meanwhile, in the world outside, it seemed like enough of the vote counting had been done for the results to be known, if not officially endorsed. Trump did not pivot today, as he has not for four years.

That was COVID Day 238

(This day in our history: On the Road Again, 2001)


Saturday, November 7, Almost-isolated Day 239, Election Day 5.

rainThis was a remarkable day. First, it rained. In much of the country this would not be of note, but here in Fresno it was the first measurable and noticeable precipitation in over six months. All the green and crops of the Central Valley depend on irrigation because, without it, we would be in true desert. Now, we need to pray for two or three months of storms marching out of the Pacific, drenching California and burying the Sierra Nevadas under tens of feet of snow. We'll see.

celebrateThe next major event was, of course, the official projection of victory by the Biden-Harris team. The relief with us and among our friends was palpable. We received a number of text messages and read Facebook postings as soon as the 10:45am good news happened. (Doesn't it seem a little strange that federal election results are announced by private news organizations, not the federal government?) We were about to get on the road at the time, so we waited for our evening return to open champagne and share a toast: To America and to relief from daily drama.

For Marianne and me, the biggest event of the day was a visit with Gabby, Ava, and Sam, in a tourist-stop parking lot. We had last seen the family in person eight months ago and a little rain was not going to deter us today. We met at Casa da Fruta, a traditional travel spot in Pacheco Pass between the South Bay Area and the Central Valley, splitting the Los Gatos to Fresno drive, half for Gabby and half for us.

I took even more pictures of this event than Friday's fireplace installation, and here are my selections:

The first hugs were the best. Then we arranged the
tailgate setup and smiling photo poses.

tailgate all of us

Food was take-out from the Casa da Fruta restaurant,
supplemented with cookies from Gigi.

food bags divide eat cookies

;The kids and I worked off the calories by tossing the weighted ball. It surprised Sam on his first catch,
but he learned quickly. Then there was a keep-away game tossing his football.

Sam catch

No stop at Casa da Fruta is complete without shopping. Back at the cars,
Ava explained the entertainment screen in the new car and
we settled into noisy rounds of "Pass the Pig" and "Old Maid".

shopping entertainment game table old maid

I caught Gabrielle looking serious while testing a Gigi cookie and then Marianne caught me posing, for some odd reason. The kids showed off the little crocheted animals Marianne's cousin Klara had sent from Hungary.

Gabrielle John Hungarian dolls

Finally, funny faces.

Sam 1 Sam 2 Sam 3
Ava 1Ava 2Ava 3

After just a few hours, we left the hills, peacocks,
and old tractors of our tailgate party and drove home through golden California hills.

peacock
hills reservoir

And that was our exceptional day. "Be glad it happened, ..."

COVID Day 239 done

(This day in our history: A Maryland and Virgina visit in 2015)


Sunday, November 8, 240 Days mostly isolated

Unlike Saturday, Sunday was a nada day. We watched a couple of the Sunday morning news programs, thankful for the Trump-is-gone theme, but glad that we did not need to pay rapt attention anymore.

In the afternoon, I watched a pair of football games, not because I'm a big fan, but because not much else was keeping my attention. Book reading has fallen out of favor, even though I have a bookshelf of new material. I have some indoor photo projects I need to try out, but that requires more attention than I seem to have. An exercise session took up 90-minutes, including cool-down and cleanup, and it felt better than I had anticipated.new workclass

Marianne had an art class session with Claudia and they worked on helping each other for hours, with reportedly no discussion of the recent political milestone. The start of a new piece is set up on Marianne's art stand, waiting for more inspiration and time. I'm sure many of us are thankful for the opportunity to ignore the drama from Washington.

That was Day 240.

(This day in our history: Mostly Monterey, 2017)


Monday, November 9, COVID Day 241 - are we halfway yet?

This was a (mostly) bad day for our technology.

Everyone who has become dependent on mobile phones knows that upgrading or shifting from one to another is risky. We had chosen to both move from older phones to new Apple iPhone 12s, ordering on Thursday and receiving them in the mail Saturday. That was the easy part. On Monday, we started our day early with a trip to AT&T to make the change. In hindsight, maybe things went as well as should be expected, but it was almost noon before we were in business because we needed to return home at one point to get to a decent wifi signal. The AT&T office had been way slow, a cobbler's shoeless son sort of thing.

It's too early to say if our lives will improve with new phones, as the advertisements imply. Probably not. So far, the significant difference has been the camera. For the record, here are my first test shots, simple house interiors. The last one illustrates the extra-wide lens and impressed me. It will be fun to add this to the mix of other cameras I play with.

first picture regular wide

Technology #2 on Monday was the new Tesla. I called the service center and asked about delivery and was told that the out-the-Fremont-factory-gate date had been moved from the 7th or 8th to the 13th or 14th. From Fremont it will be trucked to Dublin, off-loaded and put on a truck to Stockton, off-loaded again and put on a truck to Fresno. All this despite Fremont being less than a three-hour drive from here. Why don't they just put it in Autodrive and tell it where to go? Anyway, we won't see it for ten days or so. Honestly, after the technology struggle with the phones, we welcomed a break in learning new things. Must be part of getting old.

Monday's third technology problem was a complete shutdown of our internet domain, "trotter.ws". This stopped both this website and our emails and life without email is a real problem! For twenty years, I have been running our system with skills that may have been almost state-of-the-art in 1998, but now are rusty and probably obsolete. When trotter.ws collapses, as it does every couple of years, I panic and ask myself why I am still taking on a challenge no one else I know does. Because I don't want to change? A control thing?

Solving the problem starts with looking to see if anything obvious is wrong with our email system, since the website is extremely simple and hardly ever is it a problem's root cause. After an hour or two of looking, I sent a message to the help desk from Machighway, our domain host, via their website since our email was broken. Then I took a deep breath and decided to just wait for another day.crack

Neighbors Joan and Vern came over to inspect our new gas fireplace. We had it roaring and looking its best, hopefully good enough to convince them to abandon their (illegal) wood-burning in favor of something cleaner. After they left, I noticed a crack in the fireplace hearth that I had not seen before. A day of a roaring fire had heated the masonry and now we might have another technology failure. S_ _ _.

I was overloaded. Fortunately, Marianne kept her head and looked back over old pictures and found one from May that showed a tiny crack, so the current split was not exactly caused by our new technology. Just an old house thing? I guess that's better, but we will need to keep an eye on it. We don't want the whole thing to fall on our heads.

So, COVID Day 241 ended with trotter.ws off-line, our old house cracking, our new electric car drifting into the future, and two new phones intimidating me.

(This day in our history: 1998 People in Kyiv)


Tuesday, November 10, Isolation Day 242

I woke up early, knowing there were way too many things to fix. My priority was fixing "trotter.ws" so we could have email and so this 22-year-old web-diary could continue. My help were the folks at Machighway Support, all with Southeast Asian names. I would sometimes connect via the written conversation of "chat" sessions and, when possible, via email exchanges. For hours, I worked to understand and follow instructions, making temporary progress before being stopped once again by the web-hoster's automated security processes.

The stress was enough that Marianne took pity on me and set out a restaurant-worthy breakfast. I appreciated the food and the concern. However, I returned to my office after eating to discover trotter.ws blocked again. More conversations with India. Eventually, I think I understood enough that I addressed the problems and, seemingly, the email and website problems faded away. I sent a note complimenting the support staff and was rewarded with a thoughtful and clear response, explaining both what had been needed and also why the security protocols are what they are. It is sometimes popular to criticize over-the-air help from far-distant lands, but this time the support was effective and clear. I think using only written exchanges helps. (I am very sympathetic to English-as-a-second-language difficulties, after trying my hand at German- and Russian-, and Portuguese-as-a-second-language. Hearing and speaking is always harder than reading and writing.)

Somewhere along the line, I also took a neighborhood walk for stress relief. No new picture on Tom's garage, but new fall color on many of the trees and plants. Fresno isn't New England, but it's OK, color-wise.

Farther along, I stopped by Ma Ly's Vernissage to touch base. He was in the middle of painting instruction, so we could not say much more than how-are-you-surviving greetings, but it was nice to know we are all ... surviving. Artist Kirk Cruz had been last week's featured artist and his work still hung in the larger display gallery. I practiced taking some pictures. Cruz has a truly unique skill at creating paintings with the simplest of tools: marking pens. We have followed his work over the last few years and appreciate how much more sophisticated it is becoming. In December another artist friend, Ren Lee, will be featured at Ma Ly's (virtual/Zoom) Art Hop.

gallery painting detail

Big SurBack home, the trotter.ws fixes seemed to be holding. Gradually, I could relax. To help, I went for a bike ride along California's Big Sur Highway. That went so well, I took a short spin up in Mt. Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument. All this was courtesy of Peloton technology - good technology!

puzzleSomewhere along the way, I set out another jig saw puzzle. Making it will constitute news in our current life. We have several friends who have discovered the place of time-wasting puzzles in life under Covid restrictions although this may be a retirement phenomena more than any other life situation. Folks with jobs and kids have more than enough puzzles to keep themselves busy.Zoom

Tuesday also brings the weekly "Zoom Cocktails" with friends Adrienne and Rita (and Pete). This seemed to me to be the first in awhile where family discussions took up more time than politics. That's a good sign.

Day 242 was thus finished.

(This day in our history: Wasserburg am Inn, Marianne's Birthplace, in 2001)


Wednesday, November 11, Pandemic Shutdown Day 243

This was a recovery day. Email and the trotter.ws website seem to be working fine. We've come to accept that our old fireplace hearth has cracks, but (probably) won't fall apart. The new car will come whenever it does. And getting comfortable with new iPhones just requires training and practice.

We had a couple of hours of that iPhone 12 training, making our way through the first 68 pages of the Apple manual of over 1200 pages, just "The Basics". I hope our pandemic isolation allows us the time to learn more about these pocket super-computers, since we have never had learning time for earlier upgrades. It was always "what's the minimum I MUST know." As for practice, I did wander around the backyard to take some pictures. Our flowers are almost gone, but we have fall colors on the few trees back there. Bugs are getting their last bit of food. The iPhone 12 camera is pretty good.

last blossom fall color
fly flower moth flower

As for other activities, Marianne had her reliable art hut time, a little anyway. After dinner, she worked in some shopping, including a warm vest for inside our drafty old house. I don't recall if she made it to the art hut.

My normal included a visit with Vern, inside his den due to the cool temperatures. Our routine has been that I deliver the New York Times and we solve the problems of the news and non-news, while sitting on his front porch. I struggle with the question of meeting indoors. I wear a mask, but I don't ask him to mask-up in his own home. It just doesn't seem right. But, will I continue the daily visits?

News overall is discouraging. Cornavirus cases are rising throughout the country and California and Fresno are not exceptions. As we all move toward indoor activities, I can not imagine it getting better. Two weeks ago I started this diary with "Covid cases are growing. Hospitals are filling. Soon, ground will be increasingly opened and filled back in." Maybe we do need to huddle inside until Spring.

Such hibernation would require almost ignoring The Holiday Season, and I wonder if that is even possible. It took me years to get beyond a childhood difficulty with the holidays, with uncomfortable memories of mom's liquid celebrations. I am certainly glad she did not have to face a season like 2020's. Just one more part of the "we'll make it through" dialog. We will. I will.

Meanwhile, the euphoria over the defeat of DJT is being brought back to earth by the Great Leader and his minions not accepting the vote results. Republicans of the past told Nixon his time was over, but today's Republicans do not have the strength or nerve, despite much clearer bad behavior by their party leader and president. In past crises, I have expressed confidence in those who constitutionally serve the government to do the right thing, or at least not follow clearly bad orders to do the wrong thing. I find myself rooting for the entrenched federal bureaucracy, aka: The Deep State.

That was Day 244

(This day in our history: Blue Ridge Color in 2007)


Thursday, November 12, Covid-affected Day 245

This was, mostly, another not-much-happening day. The technical difficulties of earlier in the week came back when the trotter.ws domain was again blocked. This time, it was Marianne using the email on her big computer in the art hut, a computer whose Mail program I had not gotten around to updating. My bad. After more interaction with India, things were fixed and my blood pressure recovered. And Marianne and Claudia could get back to art class homework.street viewer

Speaking of technology, I snapped a picture of the Google Street Maps car updating the scene in our neighborhood. I know my friends in Germany feel this is such a violation of privacy that it is generally not allowed, but as a user, I find the benefit outweighs the risk. What about you?

Speaking of cars and technology, around noon I called our Tesla rep again for an update, not expecting much. In fact, he had no news, except a not-always-reliable internal report that said our car should exit the factory gate today. As the third or fourth "gate" date we'd received, I was skeptical.

Two hours later, I got a friendly email from Tesla giving me a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and a request for a bunch of money. That meant the car really had been born on November 12th! The VIN ended in 73xxx, indicating that it was indeed a 2021 version, even if changes from 2020 to 2021 are probably minor and not known for sure until the car shows up. I called Tim back and broke the news and he promised to expedite delivery. Good deal, I think. Teslas are just supercomputers wrapped up in an auto, so the prospect of having to learn more technology is daunting.

The rest of the day was quiet. "Trotter.ws" stayed online. Marianne did some art. I watched Thursday Night Football. We both explored our new iPhones some more. (I am now up to page 200 or the 1,200 page manual.)

That was Cornavirus Limits Day 245

(This day in our history: 2006, Fall Colors)


Friday the 13th, Covid Day 246

We managed to avoid bad luck, except the niggling problem with our trotter.ws domain. Help from India isn't enough, but I am getting more patient. We scheduled Tesla Delivery Day for 1pm on Tuesday and I hope by then I am more accepting of new technology.

On Saturday morning I asked Marianne what we did Friday and, for the most part, there wasn't anything in her memories nor mine. We are nostalgic for the days when we did diary-worthy things almost every day and wonder when those times might return. Probably after a couple of hundred million successful COVID inoculations in America and a billion or more worldwide. Hard to imagine.

BBQchatMy morning news routine went ... routinely. I read the NY Times, or skimmed it at least, since everything seems so discouraging; COVID, Trump, and the economy are combining to discourage in=depth reading.

I delivered the paper over to neighbor Vern and found him in his backyard, minding the BBQ grill. I have to admit Fresno November weather isn't bad, on days with sun. We chatted and he told the story of people who had died within a few feet of where we were sitting. Hundred-year-old houses have stories and ninety-year-old residents can tell them.art

Marianne kept busy once again with painting, finishing another class assignment. I like it, but more importantly, she seemed to like it. I'm not sure if she will put any of these exercises up for sale, or when she might have another public show, but we'll tell you when it happens.

ZoomAt 5pm we had our Friday Game Night with Brian, Jen, and Geoff. We spent some time getting updated on grandkids' school situations and concluded that all solutions are compromises. The two younger kids, in Maryland, are distant-learning (= Zoomeys) and 18-year-old Richard is in a Colorado hybrid program. How are they doing? I don't think there will be an answer until it's all over, kind of like how history is different from current news. History matters more, and it's not yet written.

That was our isolation Day 246 (I think. I lose track of time.)

(This day in our history: Ghent in Flanders, 2004)


Saturday, November 14, COVID Day 247

A chores and errands day, starting with a run to the Saturday Farmer's Market. The market was not as popular as it has been, maybe because it is shifting to fall and winter produce. The appearance of cabbage and cauliflower reminded me of market shopping in Kyiv where summer's abundance would dwindle away until it seem like all that was left in winter was cabbage.Starbcusk welcome

A couple of blocks north, I settled into my regular Starbucks to work on the diary and to test if trotter.ws email and web hosting were OK. They were, but I can't believe that will continue, so I worry.

Model YAfter Starbucks, I looked for something to take pictures of, but local orchards and vineyards had not shifted to fall colors and the distant mountains had only a hint of snow. There was no chance for that dramatic shot of snowy Sierras behind fall-colored orchards.

Because I was nearby, I stopped at the Tesla Service Center to see if our Model Y might have arrived. No, ours was not there, but an older clone was: same color, same options. I think we are ready for our own.dinner

The rest of the day was most routine: a nice meal that Magdalena would have loved, calling it "another Sunday dinner", no matter what the day. We miss those meals.puzzle

I finished the day with a new puzzle and Marianne settled in to Netflix.

Covid Day 247 done

(This day in our history: Driving the Romantic Road, 2001)


Sunday, November 15, Isolation Day 248

Days start off with routine and, since this was Sunday, that meant two papers to read: the New York Times and the Fresno Bee. I had hoped that the election would have changed the tone of political news reporting, but that was naive. The country is divided and every day there is something "news worthy" to point out that division. Unfortunately, no one is working on a vaccine for THAT deadly disease.

Needing a pick-me-up, I walked in the neighborhood to capture what Fall colors could be found. A few trees showed up and even a couple of roses were trying to hold out against the change of seasons. Good enough.

tree 1 tree 2 tree 3
white red
bush

Back home, we did chores and then remembered we needed to pick up one of Marianne's art pieces at Toca Madeira Winery. She has had several pieces hanging in the tasting room, ever since we hung them for a wine and art show in early March. No sales, but we had pretty low expectations, considering the venue and the pandemic. The vineyard looked nice and it is a shame this business, like many, is just limping along.

art Toca vineyards

GabbyhenWhile out in farm country, we stopped by Gabby's Fruit Basket, a favorite farm stand out on Avenue 12. The counters were full of seasonal fruits and vegetables, all local. Most local were the eggs, since they came from the fuzzy "Silkie" hens that were wandering under foot. Cute place. Pleasant owner. Good produce.

Back home it was time for another Sunday Dinner, pork chops, not cute chickens, and then off to our evening distractions. I split time between TV football and my new puzzle. Neither one was a great distraction, but the puzzle was more time-consuming (and the 49ers were loosing anyway.)art and launch

Marianne was producing greeting cards from her art and she gave me a show on the kitchen table, where we got distracted by the SpaceX launch of four American astronauts. The Dragon rocket is yet another Elon Musk transportation experiment, like our new Tesla! Dragon's faster.

That was Day 248

(This day in our history: 2016, Moon over Yosemite)


Keep trying.

John and Marianne

ps: I'll start a new page tomorrow. I'll try to come up with a catchy title for yet another not-too-exciting piece of our pandemic period. (Am I REALLY going to continue this for another six months? Who knows?)