Friday, April 24, 2020

The Liar Tweets Tonight

Do you wonder if this virus is going to change the way we think about things, here and around the world? I think about that a lot and some days optimism rises but most days I think we're a lot of idiots who never learn from our mistakes. I know it's a small amount of people protesting at state houses but they exemplify the worst of us. My head is exploding with all the virus news, the way people are reacting, everything COVID, day in and day out. I'm burnt out. I don't watch the news every day, but of course when watching the late night shows, there it is, exposed in all its ridiculousness.

So, here's a lighthearted yet serious bit of entertainment for you, friends. Enjoy.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Farewell Old Friend

We lost another good one yesterday. Dr. Ted Grant, O.C. was beloved by people the world over.   I was lucky to meet him six years ago when he came to California to visit his friend, my husband.  We traveled to Yosemite with him (he had never been) and he marveled at it all.  Not very mobile then, he and I shared meals while Steve and our friend Bob took long hikes looking for that perfect shot.

The saying on the back of his t-shirt here was something he said often.  He was also known for the "salute" in which he raised his middle finger if he caught people taking his photograph.  What is it about photographers not liking to be photographed?!  Steve had this as well and would throw his hands up to block the shot.

Steve and I traveled to Ted's home in Victoria, BC a couple of years ago and had a wonderful visit.  In the wind and rain we ventured to Butchart Gardens for a little walk around.  The grounds were beautiful under the gray skies and the color seemed magnified by the rain.  But poor Ted lost his legs at one point and I went back to the visitor center to get a wheelchair for him.

It was a year after that that his son moved him into an Assisted Living apartment.   He seemed to like it just fine, and really needed the help.  It was difficult to leave his home of decades and decades, the place he shared with his wife Irene.  He had the best basement Man Cave -- it looked like a Bavarian Inn.  Back behind his lair lay his darkroom, long abandoned.  Like most of us, the world famous photographer abandoned film for digital.

I learned last week that Ted was under the care of hospice and so I knew his time could be very near.  The last communication I had with him was in January to let him know that Steve was under Hospice care.  He was sad indeed.

Yes, I knew his time was coming, and yet the news was a slap in the face.  His friends from all over the globe are leaving tributes on his Facebook page.  His loss is huge to so many.  He was a great teacher and he loved photography more than words can say.  Here is perhaps his most famous photo, taken in 1968.  Trudeau's son, the current head of state, gave Ted the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honor.  What a beautiful full circle moment.

And so it goes, friends.  So it goes.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Weary Times

I first heard the Woody Guthrie song "Hobo's Lullaby" when the Kingston Trio covered it in the 1960s. I loved it, and when I began to play guitar at 12, it was on my list of songs to learn. I was drawn to the songs about injustice even at that age. I lived a life of plenty, and when it dawned on me that not everyone was so fortunate, my outrage was front and center. As we move through this pandemic, my outrage continues as I see the lack of access to good medical care, and the number of newly unemployed who have lost their health insurance. I fear we are headed into a very dark time, not seen since the Great Depression.

In addition to being a protest song, this song speaks to me of tenderness and kindness toward those most in peril during these hard times.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Isolation Boogie

Yesterday on the CBS Sunday Morning television broadcast, Peter Turnley's photos of NYC in the time of COVID-19 were shown. This is the man I did a week long workshop with in Cuba in 2015. Over his long career he has been at nearly every conflict zone and war around the world. These photographs are simply beautiful.

The show yesterday also highlighted some of the people we've lost to COVID-19. I began to cry, and no wonder.

It snowed yesterday on Easter, and I had my breakfast with my family via Facetime. We ordered from the same restaurant, and my daughter and I howled out loud when we discovered we ordered the same eggs benedict dish -- lox, pickled red onion, capers on top of potato latkes! And we both thought the same thing when selecting from the menu: I'll cover both Passover and Easter is one tasty dish! The grand kids were being their usual selves -- grand son playing with a plastic puzzle toy while picking at his French toast, and grand daughter smothering her blueberry pancakes with too much syrup and then putting her sticky hands all over her mama. The meal ended with mom and dad announcing it was time for a mimosa (a strong one, said dad) and to settle down on the couch with the crew to watch a Star Wars movie. It's been a thing they do during quarantine -- watching them all, in order.

Last year at this time, Steve and I were near Strasbourgh, France, enjoying Easter vacation with our friends in the village of La Petite Pierre. Family came over, I was in charge of hiding the eggs in the garden, and Alice and Philippe made a gourmet dinner with all things French. It was a lovely, lovely time. We had gone to a nearby goat farm the day before to pick up cheese, and it was the most delicious goat cheese I've ever had -- much of it coated with fresh herbs from the area. So many great and good memories of our time there.

How much has changed in a year.

I lazily contemplate, from my isolation, what the next year might bring. We are all wondering that now. I'm going on 2 months of isolation and probably looking at another month in the best case scenario. I'm acutely aware that my circumstances are much better than many others: I have a steady pension and health insurance from my university job, so I am not going to experience any financial changes. Most folks can't say that. So I thank my lucky stars, and attend to the things that I can do around the house. There's always cooking and cleaning the kitchen. With music playing, usually. Laundry is a must. Clean, fresh clothes and sheets lift my spirit these days.
I am inspired by the stories from people on how they are living through this time. Especially folks with children -- it's a real extra bit of anxiety and complexity keeping children entertained, focused, and working on their schoolwork from home. My hat's off to them all. My grand children can run around their large backyard, but I wonder what kids in apartments are doing? Hopefully going outside where it's not too dangerous. You cannot be a child and not go outside.

Hope you are doing as well as can be expected. Keep on doing the things that make you happy and feel whole.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Music Friday with Alicia Keys

A song for our times. How you doing out there?

On a completely different note, Fran Lebowitz is wickedly smart and wildly funny. Here is part of an interview with her. "Medicare for All—which used to be called socialized medicine—is something that, of course, can be done. They have it all over Europe. Can it be done quickly in this country? No. But it’s an absurd idea that hospitals should be businesses. People say, “If you love your health insurance”—who is that? Who loves their health insurance? No one really wants health insurance. People want health care. It’s, like, no one wants car insurance. They want a car."

I've been thinking about this during the pandemic. So many have lost their jobs, and for most Americans, the ability to access health care is through their jobs where they pay for employer based health insurance. Now, not only have they lost their jobs, they've lost their insurance. I've always been so grateful for my employer based insurance, which carried over into my retirement. I've also been skeptical that in this country we could bust up the health insurance industry and embark on socialized medicine. I wonder if the nation will change it's collective mind now that people have lost their insurance as they lose their jobs. This seems an insanity to me. We could do it, if we had the will. Would it be a difficult task? Of course. Those who profit off the insurance and medical industries will fight it to their last breath. But one of the biggest errors that is being exposed by this pandemic is the lack of health care for all. I want this to begin a serious national conversation about the issue. Would Joe carry the torch? Be well. Stay safe. Hang in there.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Do What Ya Wanna Do

I'm so glad 'experts' are now telling us that we don't have to be productive while stuck at home. At first, people were dreaming of projects long put off, organizing their closets and cleaning out their spice cupboards. I still have the desire to clean the floor in my garage, caked with winter dirt tracked in by the car. The floor is a beautiful resin (I think) covering, so will be easily washable. I guess the former owner felt it important to go above and beyond the standard concert floor. Buckets of warm soapy water and a good stiff broom should take care of it. When I decide to get around to it. I did vacuum all but the two bedrooms yesterday, but only because my body desperately needed to move. But damn, the place looks good now. Today I might tackle the two bedrooms. It's been awhile. Mostly, however, I'm taking it easy: a daily walk with Lucy around the block, sitting in the morning sun on my front patio (enjoying breakfast), spending inordinate amounts of time on the computer, and watching documentaries and movies. My body is achy due to the lack of movement, hence the vacuuming.

I'm also cooking delicious meals. I usually watch a good t.v. program while I eat. Last night it was a show on a Colorado mountain town that boasts grand caves 1,400 feet above the valley. It's part of a PBS history series on Colorado, and as a new resident of the state, I discover all kinds of interesting people and places.

Just keeping up with the basics is doing enough for me right now. The days blend into one another and that's all right. Colorado is experiencing a surge of Covid-19 cases, as is my town. And yet the four lane road across from my home seems almost as busy as ever. I just don't understand. Maybe they're just going for a drive in order to get out of the house. I've done this a couple of times. Or maybe they're going to the grocery store. The part of me that's a control freak and a police officer wants to plant a big sign in the median that says "Stay the Fuck HOME!" I can be judgemental like that.

I'm trying not to judge the nay sayers, the Trumpers, the preachers and the conspiracy theorists who have now died of the virus. Not entirely succeeding, but I keep those thoughts to myself (mostly). I hope, at least, that people who think like them wake up when they see their kind die from this scourge. Speaking of scourge, our POS President pronounces it incorrectly time and time again. I hear this is snippets from his news conferences, because I no longer tune it for the circus. A new group of mental health experts are calling for urgent action to address the President's behavior, "The World Mental Health Coalition has issued a "prescription for survival" that urges several calls to action, including the invocation of the 25th amendment of the US Constitution, which would relinquish the president from office once the chief executive is determined unfit.

It also calls for the president's "urgent impeachment" in Congress and conviction in the US Senate, which must realise its decision "involves the very fate of the nation." The president also must undergo a court-ordered mental health evaluation and establish a Coronavirus Crisis Department within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which would lead the US response to Covid-19, the group says." -- The Independent.

It will go nowhere, I fear. I don't know what it would take to get this guy removed.

This b.s. is one reason I am limiting my news watching/listening. What I am watching is the Ken Burns documentary series on the Roosevelts. Teddy was a bit crazy in his love of war, but he uncharacteristically (for a Republican) took on crooked politicians and businesses. He also began to give us a great National Park and Monument system. Observing his 5th cousin Franklin and how he tackled the devastating national economic depression makes me long for a Chief Executive like that in these terrifying times. Someone who could reassure the nation, rally people to action and develop national strategies. Sigh.

Anyway, these are the things and thoughts that occupy me these days. I hope you are taking good care of yourself, and cutting yourself some slack for any perceived lapses. We will get through this, and when we do, I envision lots of dinner parties, gatherings at pubs and breweries, and a surge of business for hair and nail salons!

Friday, April 3, 2020

Music Fridays

There's a bit of chat at the beginning, but James brings me some comfort with his words. And then the music...brilliant!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Almost Wordless Wednesday

I'm ready! Used a couple of battery operated pillar candles (I knew they'd come in handy some day) and a bag that a neighbor generously distributed to all. I think it's a beautiful gesture.

Yellow Cottage, Part 2

I have a dear friend who I met in my Creative Writing class my freshman year in college.  I sent the poem to her for her comments and edits ...