Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
I started the last two diary sets with a picture of where I saw Corona virus infection and inoculation going over the next several months, until "herd immunity" in late Spring. Here is that picture, with actual data from the last month:
So far, good enough? Actual infections are under what I guessed, as are inoculations. I now expect infections to stay below my rough guess, baring any new increase due to "variants" or whatever. Without another drug, the inoculation rate will not keep up with my original guess. Whether this pushes "good enough" into July or later depends on just how quickly the Johnson and Johnson drug can get emergency approval and rolled out to inoculation centers.
On a personal level, Marianne and I will get shot #2 tomorrow (the 17th) and should be as immune as we can be before the end of the month. We will travel a little, to visit my (deceased) parents in February and living California relatives in March. I wonder what being on the road will be like.
February 15, Covid Day 339, President's Day
Holidays don't mean much to retirees and affect pandemic life even less. Morning art classwork and YouTub's for Marianne, Peloton for me. Lunch. After eating, Marianne returned to the studio and I walked in the neighborhood, just because.
I passed by Tom's garage and tried to figure out what his message was. I could tell it dealt with virtual reality (see the goggles), but I need more of a hint. Any ideas?
From there it was a short stroll through the Fresno City College campus, as empty as it has been for months. I stopped and took pictures of birds, bees, and flowers, not unlike pictures I have been taking for the whole shutdown year. I do hope to return to the outside world soon, for any number of reasons, including better picture opportunities.
I'm tired of all this. It's selfish, I know, but a sense of remaining forever constrained stuck with me this day. Trump is not president, but Trump-pets remain. Covid cases are dropping, but new wrinkles threaten. Our Moderna inoculation is almost complete, but will we need boosters forever? And 95% isn't 100%. We have a few local trips penciled in, but when will we be comfortable on longer trips? Will I ever be comfortable on an airplane again?
(This day in our history: 2004, Munich Weekend)
Tuesday, February 16, Covid Day 340
This was another not-too-complicated day. Reading the news, no longer stressful and agitating, isn't worth mentioning. Fresno weather, compared to most of the country's cold winter blast. was likewise not noteworthy. Vern and I solved exactly NO world problems, despite trying. My photography was limited to a single portrait of a new back porch resident. Since both doves tend the nest, I can not tell if this was mom or dad. Patient, in any event.
My significant chore of the day was having Tesla Service Center adjust the Model Y's rear view mirror. They had exchanged the original unit a few weeks ago, but that only half-solved the limited-adjustment problem. This time, I provided them with the specific Tesla service bulletin number that I had found online, on an owners' website run by the company. The fix was good, or at least good enough. Tesla service comes under considerable criticism, but my sense is that most of this stems from growing pains as the company expands at breakneck speed. Ask me my opinion again in a couple of years.
Our Tuesday Zoom Cocktails were limited to just Adrienne, with Tony, Rita, and Pete missing in action. Even this call was limited, because Adrienne was in Carmel helping her 90-year-old mom who had recently fallen and been repaired. Parent-care in one's 70s is a common modern family dynamic. Does anyone out there have a kind, convenient, and reliable solution?
(This day in our history: 2013, Plans and a Record )
Wednesday, February 17, Pandemic Day 341
The big event for the day would be our second COVID19 vaccinations, but we needed to fill our mornings first. Marianne stayed busy with breakfast, a little art, and loads of laundry. I did my own breakfast, Peloton for and hour, and then an excursion out into the Central Valley farm country.
We needed almonds, not just grocery store nuts but fresh snacks from Schaad Family Almonds, our latest local food fetish. Fresno County grows a majority of the almonds eaten in the US and in a large portion of the world's as well. We have run across a few sources of the local orchard products, but consider Schaad's the best so far. Their packing plant and farm store are about 20 minutes from home, and I was eager for a drive, so I pointed the Tesla west.
The Central Valley is starting to return to life, with almond orchards among the first trees to show their white blossoms, so I can get in a few pictures as well. This is what passes for excitement nowadays, particularly since the "summer" tires on the Tesla keep us out of the winter Sierras. What I saw:
After wandering through miles and miles of orchards and vineyards, I made it back home to pick up Marianne for our important appointment: Kaiser Medical Center. We had appointments for the second of our Moderna COVID19 inoculations and we made sure we got there in plenty of time! The Kaiser meeting room being used for shots had plenty of staff, so the only wait we had was spent filling out a one-page form and a little chit chat with the inoculator nurse. This may be one of the only rooms in the hospital where all the patients were pretty happy to suffer a little pain. I know we were!
We had heard plenty of stories about adverse reactions to second shots, so we were eager to get home and to rest and wait. First, however, we stopped by the Boulanger Bakery to celebrate. It seemed like the right thing to do. As it turned out, our reactions were not too bad. For about a day, we were not 100%, but not as miserable as others have been. I think our reaction was just enough to confirm that something was happening. Now we need to let the medicine soak for 10-14 days and then we will be as immune as we can ever expect to be.
We will need to figure out what we should do socially in this period when we "are immune" but not everyone else is. Masks really are not much of a burden, so we will keep them on in public. Other expert guidance seems to say being around vaccinated folks is just fine, even indoors and for hugging! I hope we remember our old social skills.
In late afternoon, I delivered the NYT to Vern and Joan's. Despite the fact that they both have had their pair of shots, I still put on a mask when I went inside. I expect this will be the first venue where I stop wearing an indoor mask but, so far, I am still cautious. I need rules for relaxing the rules we've lived with (literally) for almost a year.
(This day in our history: 2013, Rothenburg ob der Tauber)
Thursday, February 18, Covid Day 342
Thursday was a no-picture day, a sign of not much happening. We are still not 100% recovered from the effects of our Covid shot, a sore arm and general lethargy for me and more serious tiredness for Marianne. We kept expecting for the effects to disappear, but they really didn't. Darn.
Marianne managed to disappear into the art hut a few times, getting ready for a weekend art class, but it was not as much as she would have liked. My activity for the day was a session cleaning leaves out from under trees in the front yard. We have a pretty easy yard to maintain, but final leaf cleaning is an early Spring ritual. At least it means warmer weather is on its way. (Speaking of weather, the rest of America is suffering from a winter blast from the Canadian to Mexican borders. I'll admit that some Californians are gloating over the cold in Texas. We are not very nice.)
In the afternoon I joined Vern in his back yard and we relaxed by the pool in true California fashion. He talked of the morning swim that was his ritual for decades, until back complications interrupted a few years ago. I told him he should restart when it is warmer. He should. He might.
I got a Facetime call from friend Ted and said I'd call him back after my neighbor visit, which I did. In the anti-social days of pandemic, I value calls more than ever, as we all do, I suppose. I'm not sure Ted and I solve world problems much better than Vern and I, but we try. He's a bit distracted right now by recovering from weeks in the hospital with Covid and he now classifies himself as in "long haul" recovery. It seems to have him discouraged. Decades ago, in my 30s, I had a bout of pneumonia that affected my lung capacity for almost a year, so I do hope his recovery will be as complete as mine eventually was. Good luck.
And that was it.
(This day in our history; 2000, House Progress)
Friday, February 19, Covid Day 343
I started the day with an unnecessary luxury: Starbucks breakfast and quiet time in "the office". It's a bit strange, because home coffee is just fine and the home office is even better than the car's front seat, but getting out is more welcome now than ever, even if the destination isn't so special. I'll bet everyone feels that way.
Diary work done, it was time to return home for a Peloton session, no class, just a ride. I picked a 45-minute ride titled California Coastal and was pleased to spend my whole ride on the Mendocino Coastal highway we will drive on in just a couple of days. I even recognized the wood-covered ex gas station in one scene as the place Marianne and I had a wonderful candle-lit meal. Remind us to tell you the story some time.
When I was writing and riding, Marianne was doing class work in her art studio. While any success toward commercializing her efforts (= selling paintings) has disappeared over the last twelve months, her enthusiasm toward the creative process has remained. I take that as permission to continue with my never-commercial photography, because I too enjoy the process of creating pictures, even if no one pays to own them.
My afternoon walk was short, partly because I interrupted neighbor Steve's reading and we too time to chat about books. We both bemoaned the reality that the pandemic has not seemed to foster more reading than it has, but we still have good intentions. Maybe when we get back to having less free time, we will plan more effectively.
The last event of the day was Zoom Game Night. Geoff was called away at the last minute to tend to son Sean's bleeding nose, so we made do with just the four of us: Jen, Brian, Marianne, and me. We also caught up with Grandson Rich's activities and made plans to be in their area in late May when he graduates from high school. Exactly how that will happen, hopefully with Covid on the way out, remains to be seen.
(This day in our history: 2014, Kids)
Saturday, February 20, Covid Day 344
What to do while Juanita cleans the house? Marianne would, of course, head to the Art Hut. I decided to grab cameras and go for a hike. I selected "Buzzard's Roost at Millerton Lake" from our Fresno Day Hikes Guidebook, only a 30 minute drive away.
Driving toward the lake, the hills are an emerald green now, thanks to the rain a couple of weeks ago. I stopped to take a picture or two and noticed that this was the ranch of James and Coke Hallowell, local benefactors in the art and land conservation scene. They had hosted a dinner for the Fresno Art Museum a couple of years ago and we donated enough to join about a dozen guests in their spectacular house above these green fields.
The Millerton Lake State Recreation Area runs along the northern part of the lake-reservoir and, for a fee, provides both day use facilities and campsites. This early in the year it was pretty empty, just a handful of campers and two or three fishermen in their boats. And a hawk to keep them company.
Buzzard Roost trail-head had parking for a half-dozen cars, although I was the only customer this Saturday. Signs at the start warned against poison oak, mountain lions, and a half mile strenuous walk. "Only hikers in good physical condition should attempt this walk." I thought about my Peloton training and figured I met the criteria. The trail was not marked, but was well-trodden with plenty of places to pause and take in the views.
The view from the top really was spectacular, from the San Joaquin Valley up into the Sierras. (From lower left on map.) One Buzzard (= Turkey Vulture) made an appearance, to make sure I knew it was HIS roost.
The walk down was easier than the walk up, except I took the wrong path off the top and had to back track to find the proper trail. I definitely am not a veteran hiker. At the end of it all, I WAS a tired hiker, eager to sit in the comfy car for awhile.
The rest of Saturday, nothing happened. At least that's what I remember.
(This day in our history: 1999, Gabby in Kiev)
Sunday, February 21, Covid Day 345
I am writing this on Tuesday, two days later, and I can not remember anything oyhrt than packing. I guess that's all we did.
(This day in our history: 2004, Frankfurt Fasching)
Monday, February 22, Pandemic Day 346
The start of a Road trip and an intermission with an old-style diary - one web page per trip. See NEXT.
I can not get over the feeling the past will never return. Maybe that would have always been true, but it's more threatening today than in years past.
Take care and maybe we'll see you soon,
John and Marianne, (aka Opa and Oma/Gigi)