Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
This starts a second year of COVID diaries, but there does seem to be a light at the end of this very long tunnel. Marianne and I both have inoculations, as have most of our neighbors on Cambridge Avenue as well as our other friends of a similar vintage. Four of six of our next generation, kids and kids-in-laws, are also shot-up. (Jen, just today.) Sister, brothers and sisters-in-law as well. Two sons and one brother-in-law will be next, soon we hope. All this means we can start visiting folks in person. Yeah!
The past several diaries have started with this figure of my own estimate for when we might reach "herd immunity". It turns out that my assumptions were optimistic, particularly for the arrival of two new vaccines. Still, America now has three brands and the rate of inoculation is picking up, hopefully that rate will increase even more.
Tuesday, March 16, COVID Day 368
This was another in a series of "not special" days. After breakfast, Marianne started her day with a physical therapy session and blood tests out at Kaiser Medical Center. The therapy is continuation of cancer recovery and blood tests are prep for a Thursday infusion in the same vein. No problems, just working to make sure that remains the case.
While she was gone, I walked. Spring is everywhere in Fresno, with bright sun, blue skies, chirping birds, and early garden flowers. I took plenty of ordinary pictures to capture the season.
Back from my walk and Marianne's medical chores, we resumed ordinary home life: art and cooking for her and computer puttering for me. Most of my puttering dealt with plans for a Big Western Road Trip, starting in mid-May. The anchor for the trip will be Rich's graduation, May 29th, and before that we want to tour Death Valley and Utah National Parks. This will be a repeat for Death Valley, but a first for Utah. The biggest problem with the later is that there are so many places to see: Bryce Canyon, Zion, Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef and others. I can't imagine doing it justice with just a few days. A week? Two?
The other part of an ordinary life was Tuesday Zoom Cocktails. Adrienne, our most dedicated Zoomer, showed up but Rita and Peter were missing as was Adrienne's Tony. That's OK, we had an animated conversation with just us three. The screen shot I took demonstrated that such pictures are not the most flattering. Marianne looked so grumpy, which she wasn't, that I can't show it. Adrienne was caught sipping wine, which she was, and I just look serious, which I may be, but won't admit it.
(This day in our history: 2008, Ebrach Abby)
Wednesday, March 17, Covid Day 369, St. Patty's day
I started the day going to my regular Starbucks. I wanted a taste not of just coffee but of my old diary writing pattern, even if I could no longer sit inside and watch folks come and go. Sitting outside was also ruled out because of the chilly morning. Inside, Justin, my favorite barrista, who I had not seen in ages, greeted me like an old friend, which I suppose we are. Coincidentally, I knew the names of almost everyone there and everyone knew my name. It was kind of like that old "Cheers!" opening and was especially nice in these socially distant times.
From there it was a couple more errands, to the cleaners and grocery store, again searching for normalcy I think. I definitely am getting tired of staying busy at home. So, I do what Thelma used to order us kids to do: Go outside and play.
Play this time was picture-taking at Paint Protection Fresno (PPF), where the Model Y was being treated with a protective film. Owner Aleks showed me how they had started by removing a number of trim pieces, thus allowing them to better hide and protect film edges. Then they had super-cleaned the surfaces to avoid trapping any dirt under the protection. Cleanliness seems to be the key and it was reassuring to see that the shop was spotless.
PPF uses a product called "Xpel Ultimate Plus" that they receive in five foot tall rolls and then digitally cut to car-specific patterns. Xpel has scanned sample cars and created patterns and very detailed instructions of how the two-dimensional material needs to be fitted over the three-dimensional car. For example, the flat sheet that covers the nose and the two fenders of the Tesla Model Y has 17-specified steps for getting it to fit properly. Seeing the technology and watching the care needed, it was easier to see why the job is a bit pricey.
While I was checking on the car, Marianne was doing her home routine: housework, art work, and cooking. I think she too is getting tired of the stay-home routine, but breaks it up whenever she has an excuse. Not today.
Dinner was a tasty stew from her South Beach Diet cookbook. For me, the new regime is succeeding in dropping a half to three-quarters of a pound a day, so I'm certainly satisfied and not terribly discomforted. Marianne does not need the weight loss, so we need to work out how to blend a regime with two goals, so she does not go hungry.
After dinner, we talked about our Big Western Trip and decided we could take more time, so we don't feel like we are rushing through the Utah and, later, the Wyoming National Parks. In our European travel, we always avoided six-countries-in-seven-days scheduling and we need to transfer that thought to the May and June seven-state loop to Colorado and back. I'm nervous, since this will be our first real trip in years, in a new car, a new-type car, during the tails of a pandemic, older than we have ever been before.
It helps to remember how I fretted in 2001, when we started an ill-defined, months-long journey, in a small new car, through countries we'd never driven in or even seen, where we did not speak the languages, and winter was arriving. It took two or three weeks for me to settle down and enjoy the moment(s).
(This day in our history: 2013, Around Pomersfelden Home )
Thursday, March 18, Covid Day 370
Thursday saw a visit to Kaiser Medical Center and not much else. This visit was for a cancer-related infusion to prod Marianne's bones to make extra blood cells. There are always side effects predicted, but not much happened this time. We are thankful for that.
We celebrated with a poke bowl lunch at Butterfish, with sushi, lots of veggies, and noodles or rice. This was my first meal not endorsed by the South Beach regime and it was tasty, even if it did stop my daily weight loss. I worry that losing the weight and keeping it off will be too hard. We'll see.
Beyond that, there was nothing remarkable, or at least nothing on cameras or that I remember when writing this two days later. Some days are like that.
(This day in our history: 2002, Spain to France)
Friday, March 19, Covid Day 371
Friday was more social than Thursday had been. Marianne had coffee at a friend's house, inside and unmasked. Of course, the three participants had all been "fully inoculated", but Marianne said she still had to convince herself it was OK. After a year where contact was threatening, it will be strange to be social humans again.
What will the permanent scar be, as I'm sure there must be one for everybody. Will we be hesitant in groups or, like in the Roaring Twenties, will we cast caution aside because we realize how fragile and precious good times can be. Marianne and I will be entering this phase over the next few months, as we return to visiting friends and traveling. Airplanes are still off our agenda, but hotels and (outside) restaurants are back. What about anywhere inside, such as theaters, museums, and galleries? We'll see this too.
While Marianne was socializing I went for a hour-long bike ride, a race in Minnesota's Lutsen Mountains, courtesy of Peloton. The real participants started on wide, flat roads but transitioned through rocky mountain paths. It was nice to be stationary and not risking falls and crashes. Nonetheless, I felt victorious at the end!
That ride pooped me out for the rest of the day. Whether it's just aging or something pandemic-related, we are definitely feeling a loss of energy, even with our regular exercise. We do everything we are supposed to do, eat healthy, keep our weight down, exercise, take prescribed medicines, get enough sleep, and all that, but still ...
Our social day ended with Family Game night via Zoom. We got updated on the Colorado and Maryland kids and grandkids. Their pandemic lives, like ours, are pretty darn quiet. Hopefully, that will start changing as they get vaccinations. Now, Jen and Suzanne are inoculated, but Brian, Geoff, and the grandsons are not and the younger ones may not be for a very long time. We do plan to visit them in 2021, but how do we handle not adding risk to any of them? Maybe we are counting on the disease just being gone. Maybe.
(This day in our history: 2000, A Kiev Note to Marianne)
Saturday, March 20, Covid Day 372
Errand #1 was to go pick up our clean and film-protected Tesla at Protective Film Fresno. We had left it overnight because we did not want it to get dirty in the Friday rain. Really. Now it is bright and shiny.
My other car errand was to check on how to arrange for new wheels and tires, specific wheels and tires I had already researched. Online folks had given "America's Tire" good reviews as a place to go, even for special orders, so I gave it a try. Our part of town has literally dozens of wheel and tire shops, but this one seemed cleaner than others I have visited over the years. I guess that matters. Unfortunately, Dave, the service guy, needed to talk to the wheel supplier in Denver and that business was not open on Saturday. We agreed that calls would be made Monday to come up with an answer.
(Why would I want new gear on a new car? The "sporty" tires and wheels that come with the "Performance Madel Y" look great, but suffer from pot holes and other surface roughness. My YouTube research found cars very similar to mine, where "suffer" meant completely broken tires and wheels, generally when people are on road trips. Yikes! The fashion trend toward large wheels with thin tires - "rubber band tires" - makes sense only for race tracks or, perhaps, the Autobahn. We've never done tracks and the Autobahn is well into our rear view mirror. Consequently, we will go to two-inches less wheel diameter and one inch narrower. Now, all we have to do is get this new setup on the car before we head to Death Valley on May 2nd.)
Back home, Marianne finished morning chores (including Peloton - good for her) and moved on to art homework. She has a student-work session Sunday with Claudia and needed to make sure she was prepared. There's nothing like peer pressure.
She inspired me to try a photo-walk, but it was pretty unproductive. One picture. Maybe I was too car-distracted, or hungry from our on-going diet, or tired of Covid, or something else below the surface. Whatever, it's the best I could do.
After dinner (a photogenic salad and hamburger patty), Marianne returned to the studio and I went to my office. Each to our own refuges. I decided to take a concrete step toward our May-June "Big Western Road Trip" (BWRT) and made hotel reservations in Death Valley for May 2, 3, and 4. We will stay at The Ranch, where we have stayed before, and I look forward to the newly-remodeled environment. It was kind of shabby when we stayed four years ago. We'll see.
(This day in our history: 2019, Monterey)
Sunday, March 21, Covid Day 373
By pandemic standards, this was a busy Sunday, starting with a leisurely read of the Fresno Bee and New York Times. I look forward to the ritual of starting up the fireplace, making some coffee, settling into a big chair, and opening a pound or two of news. The Bee has been on a diet for quite some time and may waste away completely, and that would be a shame. A little local coverage is better than none at all and, besides, both papers use the same delivery folks and Fresno might lose all newspaper home delivery if the printed Bee goes bust.
After reading, I shifted to talking, talking to Geoff in Maryland. He had completed his only scheduled Sunday activity, dog training school for little Jackson. The kids go to school remotely, but dogs haven't gone that route. Actually, I'll bet a return to old patterns will be very disturbing to the pets of America, when they will be on their own much more of the day.
Marianne's day included several art sessions, some more organized than others. Calls with her study-partner Claudia lean heavily on technology as they exchange pictures of their art and review each other's electronic-course homework on Facetime. Technology being what it is, sessions often start with problems before the students find solutions or work-around. That skill may be a big gain for pandemic students of all ages.
I found myself distracted by the three more-or-less-local Tesla Facebook groups I have joined. Each has a feel of kids learning about the new toys they have. All are remarkably (for Facebook) positive, answering newbie questions and re-answering standard questions (often about EV range) with respect. Several of the comments dealt with the potential complication of Tesla road trips, including where-to-charge and tire reliability, topics we face for a several-week drive in May and June. The charging things seems eminently solvable, and shifting to more rugged tires, as we will do, was often endorsed. Maybe it will be worth it to buy a spare tire since the car came without one and we will sometimes be far away from service centers. We'll see.
Dinner was outside for the first time in quite a while. Fresno summers are pretty painful, so we need to take advantage of Spring. Dining al fresco should be comfortable at least until we leave on our trip, if not after our return. Of course this experience will be a lot more fun once we feel comfortable with guests filling our big new table.
After dinner, we went for walks. Marianne stuck to the back yard where she has a pattern that works for her. The pattern started when it was risky to go out in public, but is now "just comfortable." This may not be the only pandemic pattern we stick with.
My walk was into the neighborhood. My plan was to start with a picture of neighbor Tom's garage message, but his door-canvas was up and not visible. We chatted. He was washing his wife's car instead of drawing on the door. Correct priorities. Despite a year of door-drawings, he said he would return with something new when he has the time. I'm glad he is hanging in with this pandemic practice.
Back on Cambridge Avenue, neighbors were gathering again on the Selland's porch. Most, but not all, have been inoculated and they seemed comfortable with the gathering, a return to a years-old tradition. I'll admit that I held back, comfortable with gatherings of two or four or even six, but more? We do need to shake this anti-social tendency, but when?
(This day in our history: 2014, Sequoia National Park)
Monday, March 22, Covid Day 374
Nothing special planned, nothing special happened. We started the day at Kaiser (drugs) and Starbucks for breakfast-in-the-car, a pandemic-safe practice that may be our standard when we travel. Back home, we shifted to yard work, our Spring weeding campaign. Our yard, particularly the back yard, is not high maintenance at all, but we do need to plan that outside work to happen between winter chill and summer heat.
While Marianne did some fun shopping for clothes, I visited Vern to see if anything had changed with him in the last few days. It hadn't. At 93-years-old, that's a good thing, I suppose. After he and I chatted, he moved across the street where neighbors were gathering on a different porch, but I did not join the group. I'm still uncertain in groups, especially where not everybody is vaccinated. I expect to remain a little anti-social until the Covid case load is way down, or even gone.
Dinner came and went. It was another South Beach inspiration without sugar, carbohydrates, fruit, or wine. I know this is all good for us, but for almost a week any weight loss for me has stopped, so it's not encouraging. My clothes fit a little better and that keeps me signed up, but not excited. We'll see what the next week brings.
Marianne spent her art hut time as productive as ever, sometimes with art and sometimes making Facetime calls to friends. One of those friends this time was grandson Sam, who reported on his latest reading assignment. Marianne is a great grandmother, especially in these teachable moments. Is she good with school kids because she was a teacher or the other way around?
I killed hours looking into details for our Western trip. We now have hotel reservations at Death Valley and I have planned where all we can get the Tesla charged from here to Utah. I think our first stop in Utah will be near Zion National Park, in part because we will be able to arranged a helicopter tour at Zion Helicopters. Ever since we did an aerial photo and video tour in Sedona a few years ago, we are hooked. I may also work in a biplane trip! This is all months away, but we can hope.
(This day in our history: 2015, Sierra Madre)
Tuesday, March 23, Covid Day 375
Over breakfast, Marianne and I discussed progress on the May trip to Death Valley and Utah. This joint chit chat is always helpful for me because it gets me back to reality. Sometimes I over-think the whole deal and then worry about what I thought about. Our experience twenty years ago with an unprogrammed driving tour of Europe keeps coming back as useful guidance. As long as we are blessed with time and enough money, all problems are solvable. I need to remember that and be thankful we will have each.
My morning errands were simple: deliver tax inputs and discuss new tires with America's Tires. Our tax situation is pretty straightforward, but it's always a relief turning things over to the accountant.
As for tires, agent David concluded I needed to buy the tires directly (and have them shipped from Denver). I also need to arrange for tire pressure sensors from Tesla. He would order the all-weather tires I had selected. (Nokian, because of reviews and because I like Finnish engineering!) Then, in a week or two, his guys will put it all together. I am glad we started this process well before our May 2 blast-off date.
While I was out, Marianne did a little more in her art hut. She and Claudia have committed to do a little bit of art every day, even when traveling. It's an admirable goal and might be a practice even for the post-pandemic times.
My homework was a short walk and couple of pictures to document what was blooming in this third week of March. Azaleas seem to be at or just past their peak, but our crepe myrtle trees are just getting started. We have a dozen of these trees around the house and. like all deciduous plants, it's a miracle when sticks sprout. A few more years of this diary stuff and I may remember all the neighborhood natural life cycle stages.
The Selland porch accumulated Marianne, me, and a half dozen others. The Spring chill made the fire pit still useful and the talk was warm as well. If not post-pandemic, this gathering seems post-panic at least.
(This day in our history: 2002, End of the Road)
Wednesday, March 24, Covid Day 376
My day started with a Peloton session. It has been hard the last few days getting the will to exercise later in the day, so I changed. I also rode the bike for a shorter session and, overall, it worked. My work was out of the way before breakfast and I was energized, not pooped. I just have to accept that I am not at my pre-pandemic level of conditioning - or age.
After breakfast, Marianne and I went our separate ways. I visited the tire guy again and the cleaners, notable events in these times. Marianne had an appointment with the hearing clinic to get her aids worked on. The tiny devices contain an impressive amount of technology, but I get the sense the interface between technology and variable humans is not so solid. This session, like others, left Marianne frustrated and waiting for yet another modification. Afterwards, she went shopping. Shopping therapy?
Lunch-dinner was on the patio again and we didn't even need the gas heaters. The main course was Mexican-chicken salad with ricotta for dessert. We lingered after the meal and chatted in the spring afternoon. I like our back yard. We got up when a little guest arrived. The food items had been on the South Beach diet, but I think the quantities were above the plan and that helped push my weight up a couple pounds for the day. We are entering the hard and discouraging part of this regime.
From here it was normal and quiet. I wrote Tuesday's diary and made some phone calls to get service for some of our technology. Marianne disappeared into her hideaway. I brought my work out for editing and took some pictures of her colorful environment. It's all good.
(This day in our history: 2008, Reichenschwand)
Thursday, March 25, Covid Day 377
We headed out on a road trip, a small one, but significant in these pandemic times. As is generally the case from our Fresno home, our first part of the trip was on California Highway 99, one of the most dangerous roads in America. Locally, parts are two-lane and others are under construction to add the much-needed third lanes. It's stressy driving and far too dynamic for us to feel comfortable with Tesla's Autopilot. Maybe in a few more months we will have enough automation experience - and the road will have been properly widened.
At Merced, we turned east into the Valley farm country. The fruit and nut orchards in this area were populated with acres and acres of very large trees, with trunks a foot or two thick. I failed to stop and get a picture or two in part because it takes some time driving before I remember the point is to stop from time to time. I did, however, stop and turn around to snap a granary and a hoary old cactus. Farther along we passed out of orchards up into Sierra Foothill ranches, populated with cows happy in the springtime-green pastures.
Higher up into the foothills, Marianne noticed the road to Hornitos just as we zoomed past. I fought my intuition to never turn around and went back. A dozen miles later, we entered a tiny, dilapidated village that just oozed history. A sign next to an old brick wall noted that the town had had a population of 15,000 in the gold mining era, and included the first Wells Fargo office in the state. Literally tons of gold passed through the town before it withered, barely surviving the next 100 years.
Now, the population of Hornitos is under 100 folks and the village gains fame once a year for their Day of the Dead parade. It is a tradition of the Mexican folks who have been the last of the many ethnicities that were here in its heyday. The parade leads up to St. Catherine's church and its famous graveyard.
Most of the gravestones I saw were from the Italian community of the mid to late 1800s, including a few that still had evidence of the brick coverings originally used to cover the dead. I have been told that above-ground burial was an Italian requirement, so that the poor souls do not have to rest in the cold earth. In any event, the mounds reminded some of the early settlers of small brick bread ovens, called "hornitos", and so the new town was named.
Leaving Hornitos, we climbed toward our next stop: the Supercharging station in Groveland. I'm not sure we really needed the extra boost, but driving a Tesla means stops in new places. The road up into the mountain town passed foothills colored with California poppies before we twisted and turned the last several miles.
In Groveland we plugged in and looked around for touristy attractions. Right there, next to the 21-st Century fueling station, was an old jail, a cute old jail. OK, it's kitschy, but worth a look. There are even well-dressed inmates. The town is legitimately old, having been on the route to Yosemite since the park's founding in the 19th Century. Even John Muir passed through.
Charging stops often require toilet stops and usually the electric car drivers impose on nearby businesses. In Groveland, that would be ECHO Adventure Cooperative. The problem was that the owner said only customers were allowed to use the facilities and he directed Marianne a few blocks away, apparently to the town's public rest rooms. Marianne noticed some (healthy) snacks for sale and asked if buying a couple of them would qualify her as a customer, and owner Bryant brightened and said "Of course it would".
We proceeded to chat as the car finished loading and learned that the Co-op opened last year, with their Grand Opening on the day the tourist industry shut down. He noted that, while a number of the river guides had caught the disease, their strenuous, outdoor lifestyle had served them well and they all came through. Nevertheless, Bryant himself remained staunchly pro-masks and every other practice useful in preventing spread. (Including an immaculate toilet!) He said the entire town had received COVID inoculations when shots programmed for Sonora were turned down by their "anti-science residents", unlike Grovelanders. We thanked him and his progressive mountain folks.
Down the mountains and a bit north to Sonora, we made it to Ted and Nancy's. Their home was as warm and welcoming as we had expected. As a member in good(?) standing of the COVID long-haulers, he was a bit puny, but working to get back to the old Theodore. The disease had attacked his lungs, heart, and nervous system, including a lingering case of "brain fog". There is nothing like real, first-person conversations to make an abstract news-story term like "long haul" become real.
(This day in our history: 2015, Heart Repair)
Friday, March 26, Covid Day 378
While dutiful wives fix a breakfast fritata, Ted and I chatted some more. Topic #1 was, of course, COVID19 and their experience (Nancy had also been infected, but with a mild version.) He figures they caught it on their only trip away from home in a year, down to visit friends in Arizona before they headed to Las Vegas for their son's wedding. Ted says the leading candidate is a single dinner, outside and with distanced tables, but with a group, a few tables away, celebrating with song and laughter. And, of course, this was before vaccinations. Fortunately, no one else from their own contacts tested positive. It's a mean and capricious bug.
We did talk a little about regular things too, such as the return of spring and, along with it, their flotilla of hummingbirds. Ted will need to restart his feeding process where he puts out quarts of sweet juice every day or two. There was some political discussion, but less than in past times. That was probably because the evil one we used to rail against has left office - and Twitter.
At the end, we posed for pictures and committed to future visits, before or after the long haul fades.
When we left, we really didn't know if we would spend more time in the Gold Country or not. Original Friday plans had been to visit Barbara and Mike, over by Sacramento, but when he developed a cough and fever, we all ruled out any visit. All four of us have been COVID vaccinated, but we still are cautious. I have a feeling that running from any sign of cold or infection will be a future feature of our own long haul.
To see what might develop, we depended on that Tesla reality of visiting a Supercharger. This process forces us to have a destination and, since we really were just aimlessly wandering, we took up "Carla's" suggestion of the town of Jackson, an hour north of Sonora. Pretty quickly, we were distracted again by hillsides of California's state flower, the California Poppy. Too many pictures:
In Jackson, we wandered around the downtown, in and out of tourist shops in the Old West buildings. After an hour of that, we were uninspired to spend more time in the area. Instead, we simply plugged into the charger for the 30 minutes it would take to give us plenty of power for getting home.
Most of the drive was on Highway 99, a bad road made worse by several sections of miles-long construction. When will it all get finished!!
Once home, we unpacked and made a light dinner. It was nice to be back home, but we agreed it had been a good trip as well. Seeing friends, a couple of new villages, and two new Superchargers, what more could we ask for!
(This day in our history: 2002, Graz, Austria to park the car)
Saturday, March 27, COVID Day 379
After our long (one over-night) trip, it was back to normal chores. I started with a diary writing session in the Starbucks parking lot, kind of like writing from the road. My desk at home has become so cluttered that I can't concentrate. I need to fix that.
After writing, I went grocery shopping at the Saturday Farmer's Market. Selection was limited, as it is only from local farms, but the tomatoes and greens were good. Besides, our current food regime has almost eliminated fruit due to sugar content and it certainly does not allow La Boulangerie's pastries. Darn.
The next chore was a swing by UPS to pick up our new "Martian" wheels. These may be a splurge, since the car came with wheels, but I will feel more comfortable with the new arrangement versus the rubber band tires on the Tesla now. The new wheels are sufficiently exotic, but reportedly much stronger as well.
Marianne's home duties were normal cleaning and, as usual, some art work. She is planning to shift some of the pieces she has on display out at a local winery, so she needs to work.
My work was the spring examination of our irrigation system (lawn and garden sprinklers, but we call that "irrigation" out here in farm country.) Coming out of every winter, something seems to have broken, and this year was no exception. Luckily, I could patch together a fix from old pieces I have in my pipes-and-sprinklers buckets. I'm not sure I like getting skilled in this stuff.
After time on the Peloton for both of us, Marianne fixed chicken stir-fry for dinner, back on program again. I had weighed in earlier and was surprised our trip had not added pounds, but we still need to be careful.
The next "chore" for me was a gathering on the Selland's porch, with neighbors and dogs. I'll admit, these are not quite as fun as when we used to join in the wine, but diets are diets. Cambridge Avenue remains our local support group, so we need to stay connected and porch gatherings are how that's done.
(This day in our history: 2011, Trolls and a Bunker)
Sunday, March 28, Covid Day 380
This was a very slow Sunday, not unlike the last year's string. I started with reading the Fresno Bee and the New York Times and was weighed down with bad news. Not just COVID, but there were stories about shootings, locally, in other states, and in Myanmar. Then there are economic effects of the ship stuck in the Suez. And drought. And floods (not here). And voter suppression. And border "control". Sheesh.
On a good note, I managed to talk with both sons, Geoff in the morning and Brian in the afternoon. Everyone in their families remain healthy. Richard is busy looking at Colorado schools for next year. It's amazing that we are talking about a grandson going to university. In Maryland, the family was going to celebrate Ryan's 14th birthday in the afternoon. He's getting old too! All this development has been happening away from us, a casualty of a distanced family, even before COVID. We think about it.
Dinner was the day's highlight for us: barbecue steak, roasted tomatoes, asparagus, and salad. Everything was on our South Beach program and filling besides. WE need to eat more meals outside, now that Spring is here for good.
And that was it. Not much. I need to think of more exciting things to report, but it's getting harder and harder to think of interesting pandemic activities.
(This day in our history: 2018, Mamo, Hawks, and Neighbors)
Monday, March 29, Covid Day 381
My day started at the Tesla Service Center for nothing big, just replacement of a small piece of trim that was coming off the four-month-old car. I hope all the visits to the SC are so benign. I have joined a pair of Tesla Owners Facebook groups and there is a constant stream of messages about servicing the cars. I can not tell if Teslas require more attention than most cars or if Tesla owners are just somehow more paranoid. I think it is the latter, in part because there are several comments worrying about tire failures. Tesla's don't carry spares so flats would present a problem, but modern tires are pretty reliable. In almost 60 years of driving, it has been a long time since I have NEEDED a spare and I certainly did not worry on that account when starting trips of thousands of miles. (I did order stronger-than-stock replacement wheels and tires, but that's the limit of my paranoia response.)
After car fixing and a couple of hardware store errands, it was home to scribble on these diaries and generally try to clean my office desk. I don't know how I used to organize a career alongside "home work", but it seems like a full-time job just to keep non-career paper work organized. Meanwhile, Marianne was out in her art studio being productive, or at least more productive than I in my office. And she managed another good meal.
After dinner I did a neighborhood walk, starting with Tom Key's garage sign. As with many of his earlier pandemic-marking signs, this one has a musical theme. I have to admit I am largely music-ignorant so I have no idea what he is trying to say.
From his door, I headed over to Fresno Community College, in part to document what "community" means nowadays at the all-remote school. The gymnasium has been converted to a COVID testing facility and the parking lot holds two drive-by vaccination booths, closed for the day but usually very active.
After my campus tour, I headed over to neighbor Vern's where we tried to solve world problems again. Unsuccessful. At least his yard had plenty of candidates for my flower day.
And that was our Monday.
(This day in our history: 2002, Hungarian Family Tour )
Tuesday, March 30, Covid Pandemic Day 382
We started the day with breakfast out, out and outside. Fresno Spring weather is pleasant enough for COVID care conditions, and Summer heat is still months off. This is the best time of the year, weather-wise.
Back home, Marianne went to the Art Hut and I started office duties. All very normal. For me it was diary update, Big Western Road Trip details, the last tax input, schedule medical appointments, and followup on a pair of medical studies we are in. I even worked in a relatively short exercise-bike session. It all seemed very busy.
Later I went for a walk with Vern. Though he was scooting along in his walker, we made pretty good time. I think Spring weather makes everyone positive and energetic. Nice. His news was from a friend's estate that had just sold the deceased couple's Carmel cottage for $2.8 million, $400,000 above asking. It was about half the size of our own Fresno home and 5 to 7 times what we might expect, were we to sell. It's amazing.
Our other social event was Tuesday Zoom cocktails when we chatted with Adrienne. She was coming to us from her mom's house in Carmel, where daughters are doing parent-care duty. We remember that time, with mixed feelings and wish them well.
(This day in our history: 2007, Montpelier)
Wednesday, March 31, Covid Day 383
My day started at 6:15 with a trip to the Kaiser blood test lab. Fun. Nothing urgent, just a return to normalcy and an annual check-up. I had gone early since the tests were "fasting" ones and the sooner that's over the better.
Breakfast was at my regular Starbucks. Their homemade display was shifting from Black History Month to Women's History Month. Good themes and the self-made nature of the signs struck me as more honest than posters done by large corporate printing offices. I like my Starbucks.
From there it was an inspection visit to Protective Film of Fresno for Derek and his guys to check if the Tesla's film was holding. It was. As usual, PFF had a shop full of colorful, high-end cars that I should have photographed, but I think I was still sleepy from my early trip to Kaiser. Trust me, they were fancy.
After a couple more errands, I was back home about noon. Marianne had been spending some time in her art studio, but it did not seem to have worked at brightening her mood. Nothing giant, just one of those days. So I suggested a before-dinner drink and she took me up on it. We have cut way back on mood-correcting self-medication, so it's special. And, it worked. And it made the chicken and sausage stew even better.
After dinner, I did the neighbor-visiting thing and Marianne shopped a little. Then I walked and took bee and flower pictures. It's what we do.
(This day in our history: 2002, Hungarian Pictures)
We are hoping this will be our most positive set of daily records in a year. I just hope we are counting chickens, not eggs.
John and Marianne