Day 7: Cherry Blossoms

It is Day 7 of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy mandate in Washington State. As of the writing of this journal, there is 3166 dead from the virus in our country, 211 happened in Washington, which puts us second behind New Yorks 1342.

Me: The cure is worst than the cause! Millions of people are losing their homes, their small businesses and jobs, many are starving, domestic violence rate is increasing, people whose homes are NOT safe are now locked into them– to save what?– 100-200,000 people from dying of a virus?  This whole “shelter in place” crap is a scam, a mass hypnosis event, designed to kill off more poor people!

Also me, in the grocery store: Hey! Get your snotty nose 6 feet away, buddy!

 

1) an observed joy- One of my tenants asked for call today.  I thought maybe she needed something fixed.  However, she just wanted to talk.  We talked for about a half-hour. It was nice.

My second joy- I went to my office at the church today.  My Christmas cactus, gifted to me in December, was wilting. I forgot all about it! I gave it some water and took it home.  I’m glad it was still alive.

2) a real concern- I learn today that the main hospital in Whatcom County has only 253 beds. (WTH right?)  Also, the snobby directors of the hospital fired a whistleblower (see below). The +900 strong local nurses union is demanding his return.

My second concern is I shopped at a smaller, more expensive grocery store for a week’s worth of meals today, paid an extra $80 above what I normally would for food for the sake of smaller exposure to crowds. I can’t afford to do this again in 8 days.

3) a personal challenge- I’m in search of liquid bleach for one of the tenants.  I did not go for a walk around the neighborhood today, but I did walk some obscure places seeking bleach, The Dollar Store and Home Depo hardware.  I did not find bleach. The tenant has a high-risk immune system and only uses vinegar/water or bleach/water to clean her home due to allergies to artificial smells, and asked me to help them find some.

4) one personal success (no matter how small)-  Tonight I ate leftovers and rearranged the pantry to make space for a soup shelf.

5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- I think I would look good in braids.  Two long braids.

 

BELLINGHAM – An emergency room physician who publicly decried what he called a lack of protective measures against the novel coronavirus at his workplace, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, has been fired.

Ming Lin, who has worked at the hospital for 17 years and became a local cause célèbre for his pleas for more safety equipment and more urgent measures to protect staff, was informed of his termination as he was preparing for a shift at the hospital Friday afternoon, he said.

“I got a message that said, ‘Your shift has been covered,’” Lin told The Seattle Times. He phoned his supervisor and was told, “You’ve been terminated.” Lin said he was told he would be contacted by human resources staff from his employer, TeamHealth, a national firm that contracts with PeaceHealth’s emergency department.

Hospital administrators this week announced a series of protective measures, such as temperature screening of staff entering the building, plans to enhance separation of staff from infected patients, and the availability of tents to conduct outside screening if deemed necessary.

…Lin and other hospital staff noted that most or all of these measures came after Lin’s treatises prompted a community outcry. Meanwhile, Lin maintains the measures fail to meet standards set by other regional hospitals and even smaller health care facilities.

PeaceHealth St. Joseph is the only emergency facility for some 250,000 people in the state’s northwest corner.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/er-doctor-who-criticized-bellingham-hospitals-coronavirus-protections-has-been-fired/

Day 6: Zoom for poets & family

Toilet Paper Count: 23 rolls

1) an observed joy- Shouting “good morning!” across the street to other neighbors out for walks.  There is a shrug that accompanies the hello. It’s a subtle “what the hell is all this? oh well, good morning” kind of shrug.

2) a real concern-  I’m doing too much stationary activity; sitting at my computer, naps, watching TV.  My concern will transfer to a personal challenge to take two one hour walks a day.

3) a personal challenge- Challenged myself to order one meal delivered to help the restaurants.  I’m concerned to spend my money on more that one a month at this time.  I selected a local restaurant (not a chain) and ordered through Viking Food, a local food delivery service.  Total cost for lunch with tax, fee, and the tip was $38.

4) one personal success (no matter how small)- Today I was able to convince a few members of Bellingham’s monthly discussion group, Poetry Club, to meet via Zoom.  We’ve met every month since October 2015.  I’d hate to skip a month due to a pandemic. Also, three out of six of my family members that live in Western Washington met online this evening.  It was great to see them and hear how things are going in their area.

5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- I am wondering if Republican run states are getting more pandemic resources than those with Democratic governors.

Photo by Toa Heftiba
Photo by Toa Heftiba

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Day 5: Miscounted Stock of TP

The Daily Dose of Internet is one of my favorite chill channels.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  It is difficult to NOT watch too much TV during the lockdown.  As a lover of zombie movies, I noticed there are MORE zombie and epidemic movies lined up in my Hulu and Netflix this month.  One of my favorites is “Kingdom” from South Korea.  Just like the way they reacted to the coronavirus of today, the South Koreans in the show systematically wreck those zombies UP!

Edit: toilet paper roll count is 27.

1) an observed joy- Yesterday I received an inquiry from the Opportunity Council and the local food bank if any of our families would like to have a box of food from the food bank delivered to their homes. YES! Two of my moms cried tears of relief over the phone when I shared the news with them.  (I’m crying again thinking about it.) It is never a good time to be poor, more so during a lockdown. The trauma level double folds.

2) a real concern- I am concerned about my case families. They all have kids, little to no income. Searching for jobs during a pandemic is discouraging, to say the least. Bellingham is a mix of have and have-nots like most American cities.  However, in my 52 years, I’ve lived in 8 cities, and Bellingham is one of the most giving communities I’ve had the pleasure to live in.   Regardless, every day of this lockdown the vice grip twists down on our nation’s lower and struggling working-class tighter and tighter.  I will continue to search for opportunities for the families during this time.

3) a personal challenge-  Once again my brain is not in full pandemic mode.  At the grocery store the other day, I stopped in the aisle before the checkout lanes, thinking I forgot something.  While I was in my own head, my peripheral vision noticed a wide-eyed woman standing, staring at me.  It took me a second to figure out why.  I was standing in the middle of a space, with less than 6 feet on either side for her to get by me.  She patiently stood there waiting for me to wake up and move to the right to let her pass.  Thank you lady for your patience.

4) one personal success (no matter how small)- I read for an hour, prayed for 20 minutes and meditated for ten minutes.

5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- The community board appears to have an increase of “found” pets.  Are people kicking their pets out due to the costs to feed them?

Here is one of my favorite photos. Be safe. Be healthy. Be patient.  Be well. -spl

Day 4: Stay Home. Stay Healthy.

On March 24th the governor of Washington State declared the “Stay Home. Stay Healthy” mandate.

“It’s time to hunker down in order to win this fight. 
So, tonight, I am issuing a “Stay Home” order to fight this virus. This is Washington’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. This includes a ban on all gatherings, and closures of many businesses, unless those businesses are essential to the healthy functioning of our community, or are able to let employees work remotely from home.”

https://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/stay-home-stay-healthy-address-transcript

I’ve decided to start an online journal, at least one paragraph a day during what I call “the lockdown.” Also, I am challenging myself to daily list the following,  1) an observed joy, 2) a real concern, 3) a personal challenge 4) one success (no matter how small) and 5) a random thought (no matter how silly)

Somehow, my employment luck returned.  Since 2008, I struggled to find a job that offered longevity.  Last spring, I landed two jobs that are listed as essential during the pandemic.  The anchor job is in social services, working with families that are experiencing homelessness, the other is an administrative assistant position with a local Presbyterian church.  Both organizations are a true joy to work for.  The folks are calm headed, skilled, knowledgable, resourceful, dynamic and community-focused—perfect people to work for during a global crisis.

Although I am not dressed like a character in the Road Warrior, I do feel like one from time to time–washing my hands like a warrior! wiping down surfaces like a warrior! Offering 6 feet of social distancing…like a warrior!  You know honestly, leather is easier to wipe down than cotton blends, just saying, if on the other end of all this we emerge draped in, like, leather togas or something, I’d be cool with it.

So, here I go…

Dearest journal,
Day 4 of the lockdown. 48 rolls of toilet paper. Phone on wi-fi to conserve data.

Great gobs of gratitude! My regular paycheck came yesterday.  I am feeling very thankful and fighting the urge to cash it, put it in a sock under the mattress.    I’ve been working from home for my housing job since Monday, March 16th as the organization started to observe a shelter in place policy.  I grabbed a few essential files and my laptop, wiped down my desk with Clorox wipes, covered my pen holder and stapler with tissues, laying them to rest, and drove home.  This week, somehow, I feel busier than usual.  I’m hopping from zoom meetings, webinars, text and email conversations, between two laptops and my cell phone, throughout the day to keep the momentum of projects previously started.  All the organizations I work with are functioning from home offices and somehow–miraculously– it is ALL working.

1) an observed joy- The crabapple tree framed by my bedroom window is showing the earliest green leaflets, bright green dots of spring.

2) a real concern- If the paychecks stop do I have enough food to cover the time between cash on hand is exhausted to unemployment relief arriving?  The problem being the time range between these personal events is unknown; 2 weeks? 3 months? …unknown.

3) a personal challenge- remember to wait to grocery shop after 9:00 a.m.  I hopped into the car to get cream for my coffee this morning about 8:15. In the parking lot, I realized it was the senior/high-risk shop time, went back home.  I have moments when I forget everything has changed.

4) one personal success (no matter how small)- I convinced two cousins and my brother, all living within the parameters of Seattle, to have a zoom conference this Sunday, check-in, share stories, and hopefully,  uplift our spirits.

5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- for future elections, what if people could vote electronically through the pay point interface at the grocery store?


My friend Carla Shafer shared this video.  Her experience and the video moved me.  Please share if you are able:

On May 19, 2012, in Catalonia (Spain) a flash mob formed of local musicians showed up to play the “Ode to Joy” movement from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. You can view it at this link:

I cried as I watched it. I’m never sure what this kind of tears is about, maybe it comes from early childhood fears of being left alone, or maybe I hold some recent suppressed sense of loneliness. And it doesn’t matter. What matters to me is that I feel the feelings as authentic and as a release, and I am not embarrassed or ashamed (another carry-over from childhood).

I am grateful to have music from unexpected places. Lately, I’ve heard the Seattle Symphony’s streaming a free concert, and the Bellingham Symphony shared their dress rehearsal live on-line.

https://www.classicfm.com/composers/beethoven/news/beethoven-9-flashmob/

Youtube:  https://youtu.be/kbJcQYVtZMo

 

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How Are You Doing?

Hey, how ya’ doin’?  How are you doing during the pandemic?  Are you ready for it to be over?  Ya, me too.

I live about 2 hours drive north of Seattle, Washington, ground zero for the first coronavirus death in America.  Whatcom County is locked up.  On this day March 19th: restaurants offer take-out or drive-through only, grocery stores and gass stations are still open.  Grocery stores offer early hour shopping for the over 60-year-old crowd.

If it involves being closer than 6 feet or crowds of 10 or more, it is closed.  Imagine a city with no sit-down restaurants, movie theaters, music concerts, bars, schools, worship gatherings, gyms, sports, business meetings in conference rooms, discussion groups, no food banks, retail stores. Public gathering places are closed.  Everyone is online, video streaming, phone calls, emails.  Bellingham was quick to use Facebook to connect healthy people with those in need of help.  An obstacle is few folks over 70- the key target of the virus- are not on social media.  Hopefully, the friends and families of the elderly will bridge that gap.

Meanwhile, some very real stories are beginning to surface.  Yesterday I called one of our contractors for a quote.  She sounded like she had been crying.  When I asked her what happen, she told me all her clients called, one after the other, all morning to cancel cleaning services in order to practice social distancing, the same morning her husband was told to not come into work.  Boom.  Just like that, once again, the working class gets a boot to the behind.  Many hourly-paid folks are up a creek.  The unemployment rates will go up nationwide!

One aspect of trauma is a sense of losing control.  Do not kid yourself- this- ALL OF THIS- is traumatic.  However, times like these are opportunities to build character.

“I judge you unfortunate because you have never lived through misfortune. You have passed through life without an opponent—no one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you.” – Seneca

How am I doing? This week I am “sheltering in place.”  Today I need to find my feet and snap out of this gloom hanging over me.  Remind myself what I have control over, and find the courage to freakin’ do the right things.  Let’s hope this ends quickly.

Please take care of yourself, and check in with those around you.

The coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting 176 countries and territories around the world and 1 international conveyance (the Diamond Princess cruise ship harbored in Yokohama, Japan).  The link below: The day is reset after midnight GMT+0. The “New” columns for China display the previous day changes (as China reports after the day is over). For all other countries, the “New” columns display the changes for the current day while still in progress.

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

 

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Poem: Unfinished Basement

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Unfinished Basement

By Shannon Laws

Figure out how I fit in your world
as I discover the shape of your heart
push me into your foreign form
as the chalk line
between
us dulls 

Memory foam bed faces north in your
cold unfinished basement headboard
is bare drywall with taped-over nails
primer and mud a forgotten chore for
another day painted white bricks lined
up like soldiers floor to ceiling gray soot
stains define few edges 

This is our nest
our place to incubate

When you touch me it is a fast
movement under a silk sheet
sparking a mighty lightning storm
hair stands on end in anticipation
of where your fingers might go
legs gently look for arousal
as we twist together like snakes

You are a storm
you are the ocean
pounding at a rocky shore
don’t stop until
I am sand

bohemian

The worn cover of Carole Kings 1971 Grammy Award album “Tapestry”

bohemian

So, a while back a friend said she could finally afford to buy that bohemian coat she wanted.  The use of the word “bohemian” spurred memories. I’ve considered myself a bohemian ever since my aunt gave me a turquoise & silver ring when I was seven.  My aunt lived the bohemian lifestyle and getting that ring from her, in my simple-kid mind, meant I was in the club. My contributions to the movement were growing out my long straight black hair, wearing a bandana when I mowed the lawn and, as often as possible, sit on our couch in an incorrect manner.  

Circle of pipe vibe

Before the pale blues and mauves of the ’80s made their appearance into my childhood, I was surrounded by beatnik leftovers from my parent’s first home; my mother’s early ’60s style contrasted with her sister’s  ’70s experience melting together into a sweet avocado green.  Of course, I had no idea what either of those lifestyles was about! Our living room was crowned by a 3-foot round metal, astrological chart wheel hanging above a black and white leopard print flop couch, adjacent to a row of mahogany stained bookshelves and dad’s tobacco pipe cady. In my room, Barbie was living clean in her shoebox and lego “Dream House”.  Literature in the home included encyclopedias, LIFE Book collections, sci-fi books and poetry by Kahlil Gibran.  Music was predominately 60’s jazz albums, Bill Cosby, Helen Reddy, and Carole King.

But it wasn’t my stuff, it was the life and home that my parents built for us.  It was warm and happy.  As an adult, how do I recreate a modern art of living? Somewhere along the way, I lost it.  I need to get out of survival mode and find my faux-bohemian again.

Get Small
For $110 you can own this view, hang it on any wall, “Mount Corcoran”, by Albert Bierstadt

Turn those dreams of the high retired life down a couple notches.  First, be honest with yourself.  Instead of a dream retirement cabin on the lake, you can be just as happy in a studio apartment that’s 30-minutes away from a lake.   Just visit the lake.  You don’t need the whole lake. This isn’t the 50’s.  No lake for you.

The west coast of Washington and Oregon offer a high quality of life, clean air, water including water in the shape of lakes that we can all visit.  In WA we have all four seasons, mild winters, besides the scratchy track of volcanoes down the middle of the Cascades, we’re doing alright…except for the cost of living.  According to the site costofliving.net the cost of living in Washington is higher than the national average.  They report,

“Our cost of living indices are based on a US average of 100. An amount below 100 means Washington is cheaper than the US average. A cost of living index above 100 means Washington, Washington is more expensive.  Washington’s cost of living is 118.7.  Housing is the biggest factor in the cost of living difference.  The median home price in Washington is $381,300.”

D.I.Y. Life

How do you add quality to your life on a tight budget?  Of course, defining “quality” is person-specific.  In this economy, in this city, I am trying to live a good life but I feel like most efforts bring me down, and I am starting to take it personally. This American Life has it out for me.  I pissed it off somewhere along the line and it’s not giving me anything, no living income, no happily ever after, no satisfaction except in a sunrise, no joy but in my neighbors blooming trees, no love but when that orange cat comes by and rubs its cheek against my doorway, no peace but the ocean that tells me it’s always there—it goes out, but it will come back, it always comes back.  No glory but a rainbow around the moon and my childhood friend the Big Dipper and Orion chasing each other in the sky. The world is a big and resourceful place if you are a tiny red ant working with a million other clones.  It’s all about perspective.

photo credit http://pyreaus.com/inspired_manifestation/2015/pyreaus_inspired_manifestation_It%27s_an_Ant%27s_World_Order_Discipline_Unique_Perspective.htm

 

 

Warm Worm

Photo by Krystian Piątek on Unsplash

Warm Worm

Moss-heavy limbs fall from charge
of a warm southern wind
rest in a compost graveyard
of other arms that have been

Once boasted of leaves
awarded with weighted sog
pray if awarded knees
low water releases a fog

Time will turn you into swamps breath
and a story told around the table
As the matted hair of a beggars sets
as sure you’ll become a fable

Draw out the white worm that hides in the gut
with a warm bowl of cream
Demand it to uncoil from the inner glut
the foreign body within a scream

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~By Shannon Laws

These Things Shall Pass

photo credit: BY MATT BAUME SEPTEMBER 25 2019 11:18 AM, gay twitter

Do you know what the best day to be at Disneyland was?  September 12, 2001. On the day after September 11th, while all planes over the skies of America were grounded, my neighbors loaded up their Subaru and drove like a bat out of hell to Disneyland.

They were a young Disney fanatical-couple with early elementary-aged kids. The 9-11 attacks came with indirect benefits for anyone who ever dreamed of having Disneyland to themselves.  While most of America sat in front of their TVs for hours and worried themselves raw, these opportunists were like “F*ck it, we’re going to ride roller coasters all week!” Now, most people can get from Seattle to Disneyland in 18 hours, with kids, that could work out to be a full day of driving, day and a half if stay at a hotel on your way down.  They seemed bubbly and downright giddy about the whole situation.  When they came back they told us there were no lines and about 500 people in the whole park all week. Perfect!

I’m thinking about this couple today.
SO much happiness

As the Democrats are getting ready to impeach Trump, I’ve been extra happy.  There’s a little skip in my step the past two weeks. It’s as if my hope in the governments’ ability to function has returned.  (Mind you, it’s been missing for many years)   Since that dark winter’s night in 2016 many groaned and groaned for years after.  

But why, at 2 in the morning on a Wednesday in 2019, eight years later, am I thinking about them?  I’m happy that it appears some justice will be served but there is an element of unknown.  It is a crisis.  Our country is in a crisis, however, we’ve been here before.  So…what were they REALLY thinking? I came up with this: they recognized that these things shall pass

Consider these ancient lines from Proverbs  11:10, “When the righteous thrive, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.” or 29:2, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” (New King James). 

There was and is a groaning 

Whatever happens with Trump and to America over the next week, year, decades to come, its nothing we, and really all the citizens of the world, haven’t seen.  Proverbs is a testimony to this. For centuries the world has had righteous and wicked leaders. They come and go, but goddamit, how long will they keep the Dumbo ride?

photo credit: Disneyland, CA post card
photo credit: Disneyland, CA postcard

Crab

A crab washed to shore on Long Beach, WA

Crab

Shannon Laws

A foam washed wreckage to shore
breath-bubbles pop in the thin light

Early beachcomber fights the gulls
for a freshly delivered treasure

The minute before dawn you grab it’s back
Carry it to your kitchen for a slow boil

With a crack, a glut of juices spill out
Lips suck at the muscle and warm butter

An ear to the empty skin echoes the sea

 

What inspired you to write this?
a friend at my monthly poetry discussion groups asked

Well, I heard a line from some poem at an open mic.  It went something like, he sucks the juices from your claws, eats the muscles from her claws
I started to think about how the line could be used in a domestic violence poem about allowing another person to take your strongest parts, your claws, and devour them, you know, boil them for dinner

That sounds like a great poem!

Ya.  It could have been, but I couldn’t get it to work.
The right words didn’t come

So, WHY is the sea in the empty skin and whose skin is it?

The sound of the sea is in all things born in the sea.
In this story, it is a song that sings the memory of the crab

I don’t get it.

ya, the words didn’t come.
It needs new words