Day 65: One Hundred Million Suns

“What the wise do in the beginning, fools do in the end.”  Warren Buffett

Guessing by the news last week, Whatcom County will be asked to shelter in place another month.  I didn’t think we had it that bad.  Of the 1055 deaths in our state, Whatcom has experienced only 36.  Today the total death count for the US is 99,624 according to google search CORVID-19 alert page.  In March, I heard the scientist estimating the deaths nationwide could reach 250,000.  That’s not too many, right? Please let me out!  …I must be in the negotiating stages of grief now.

It’s 8:10 in the morning here.  A neighbor is having problems with their smoke alarm.  Each of our apartments has two.  I believe both were going off at one point.  I’ve had a morning like that.  Poor neighbor.  These alarms are set off by smoke not heat, typically triggered by cooking.  What I learned is to quickly grab a bathroom towel and rotate it like a helicopter blade under the smoke detector, turn on ALL the fans, open ALL the windows, even the door if you have to.  It’s the quickest way.  Whoever they are, they’ve been at it for 20 minutes now.  Sounds like they don’t know the towel trick.

In the back of my mind, I realize it could really be a fire.  Oil in the pan, a candle on a blanket, electrical… how fast would this building burn?  Let’s see 23 units, built in 1976, so its 44 years old.  Does that mean it will burn faster or slower?  What would I grab?

Last winter I thought about grabbing everything I own and leaving America.  I was (and still am) so discouraged by our country’s leaders I wanted to become an expat and relocate to Mexico, Spain, Cuba, even South Korea, anywhere but the United States.   Alarms in the distance warning us of trouble.  Complacency argues the trouble is “over there”, it hasn’t reached my door stoop yet, I’m fine, I’m safe.  Apathy says what are the chances it’s a real fire? Who cares? Everythings fine.  Laziness tells me pour yourself another cup of coffee, get back into bed and turn on Netflix.

Logic (not to be confused with Loki) tells me, it is not a fire.  Not anymore.  Listen.  The beeping is reduced to one alarm, and it corresponds with the low rumble of a large diesel truck, possibly 2 blocks over working on the road.  A new breezeway trail is being constructed through a field of blackberries. The fire alarms I heard over a half-hour ago have morphed into a backhoe going forward and backward clearing the sticky stubbornness.  A symphony of sound composed by the neighborhood this morning!  A lesson embedded of course, as all lessons are if we listen close enough.  The lesson I hear is to be ready for an emergency, be thankful, for what you have could be gone in less than 30 minutes, but primarily–when the tone changes the source has too.

**

I want to share this poem from my book “Fallen” 2017.

Another God

by Shannon Laws

I cannot sleep
next to you
The porch light
on the other side
of the curtains
tricks me awake

You look frozen on a canvas,
painted in oils by a master,
shadows lightly brush your shape

I study the back of your head
your ear lobe
a quiet beating vein
the hairline along the neck

There’s a frame of freckles
below the shoulder blade
They look like Orion poised
with bow, arrow aimed upward

I am not your Merope taken by blind force
I am Andromeda, wrists wrapped in iron
ready for monsters to decide loves fate

Gods visit the sheets of women
a vacation from eternity
Taste the finite in the kiss,
wipe their mouths with times mist

I will lose you as I lost others

Tonight your constellation glows in porch light,
while I dream of everything I cannot have

**

Here is my mood expressed by meme.

 


https://sanjuanislander.com/news-articles/government-news/state/31146/san-juan-county-qualifies-for-a-waiver-to-skip-ahead-to-phase-2-under-new-criteria

Day 8: Figure Eight

Day 8 of the mandate: self-repair
toilet paper roll count is 33.

Two people I crossed paths with today mentioned the phrase “self-care”. In context they shared they are taking care of others and needed to take care of themselves before they got sick. I replied with the phrase “age of grace”. We are in a time of grace.  Take it easy and be kind to yourself and others.  Give those around us more room and time.

Everything is going to be OK.

An acquaintance of mine, who normally chats for about 10 minutes then continues on his way, talked with me for 45 minutes this afternoon (keeping a safe distance of course).  He said he and his wife have all their family staying at their home, the kids, including an adult child who is back from college, his father and mother in law.; sounds like about 8 people.  People are sleeping on the floors!  He, like me, has two jobs that are labeled essential during the pandemic.  However, he can’t work from home.  He leaves early in the morning works 12 hours and comes home, stepping over people to get to his own bedroom.  He said he had to have a family meeting because the dishes were piling up in the sink.  He said, “Hey! This house should be spotless.  There are too many of us living here that we can’t keep it clean.  My paycheck feeds you, you, and you.  The least you could do is clean up after yourself.”  He shared for a long time, and I listened.

1) an observed joy- I love completing a job. I returned to my office to take care of the once a month things that cannot be done from home.  It felt good when I had it completed.

2) a real concern- a person who I know to be over 75 came into my breathing space today, It was for a brief moment, I adjusted quickly by backing away.  Perhaps they forgot about the 6 feet distancing. I have not been sick for over a year nor do I have any signs of the virus. I wonder if I am a carrier.  I hope that person does not get sick.

3) a personal challenge- It is time for me to dust my bookshelf and clean out my file cabinet.  So many spiders want to be discovered and silly things need to be tossed out.

4) one personal success (no matter how small)- I live in a hilly part of town. Figured out if I figure eight around three by four square blocks near my home, I can get my heart rate up walking fast UP hills and not be too far from home.

5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- My son encouraged me to try a video game to relax.  He even suggested downloading VRchat to talk to others.  I am thinking about it. What would my avatar look like?

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 in a county that touches King County, 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

 

#

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

It’s Time for Ham


OK, true story:
One holiday four generations of family are all gathered together in the youngest daughter’s new home for a rare time together. This is her first time hosting a family dinner. Her mom is helping her with the ham.  The daughter plops the large ham into its pan and asks the mom, “OK what do we do next?” 
“Well,” answered the mom, “first thing we need to do is cut off the ends of the ham, just the sides about 2 inches worth.” “Why?”, asks the daughter. “I don’t know, but my mom always did it, and her ham’s turn out great every time.”

They call the girls grandma in, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends of the ham before cooking?”

“Gosh, I don’t know why. Never thought of it. MY mother cut the ends off, so that’s how I’ve always done it. How funny.”

The three ladies quickly walk out to the living room to find the girl’s great-grandmother sitting and talking with family. “G.G., I have a question for you. Why do you cut the ends of the ham off?”

“Well, I don’t know why YOU cut the ends of the ham off, but I had to cut the ends off or it wouldn’t fit into my oven!”

Lesson:
It’s good to know WHY you do what you do, so that you don’t waste any ham.

Note from S.P.:
For four years now I have posted this story on my blog during the holidays. This year my mom is cooking ham and her world famous gravy.  I’m taking the week off to spend time with friends & family.   Whether you are having ham, turkey, or take out, I wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. 
If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. 
~Oprah Winfrey 

Holiday Ham

Happy Thanksgiving all! 

Thanksgiving is all about the traditional turkey dinner, but this year we are serving up ham.  This is the third posting of the “Mom’s Holiday Ham” story.  Hard to believe my “Madrona Grove” blog has been up so long! For that I am thankful.
Whether your ham is smoked, honey glazed, bone-in, and/or spiral cut-  I wish you all a great holiday! 
     …and leave the ends ON!  ~SPL

*****
OK, true story:

One holiday four generations of family are all gathered together in the youngest daughter’s new home for a rare time together. This is her first time hosting a family dinner. Her mom is helping her with the ham. The daughter plops the large ham into its pan and asks the mom, “OK what do we do next?” “Well,” answered the mom, “first thing we need to do is cut off the ends of the ham, just the sides about 2 inches worth.” “Why?”, asks the daughter. “I don’t know, but my mom always did it, and her ham’s turn out great every time.”
They call the girls grandma in, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends of the ham before cooking?” “Gosh, I don’t know why. Never thought of it. MY mother always cut the ends off, so that’s how I’ve always done it. How funny.”
The three ladies quickly walk out to the living room to find the girl’s great-grandmother sitting and talking with family. “G.G. I have a question for you. Why do you cut the ends of the ham off?”

“Well, I don’t know why YOU cut the ends of the ham off, but I had to cut the ends off or it wouldn’t fit into my oven!”

Lesson:
It’s good to know WHY you do what you do, so that you don’t waste any ham. 😉

Mom’s Holiday Ham

OK, true story:

One holiday four generations of family are all gathered together in the youngest daughter’s new home for a rare time together. This is her first time hosting a family dinner. Her mom is helping her with the ham. The daughter plops the large ham into its pan and asks the mom, “OK what do we do next?” “Well,” answered the mom, “first thing we need to do is cut off the ends of the ham, just the sides about 2 inches worth.” “Why?”, asks the daughter. “I don’t know, but my mom always did it, and her ham’s turn out great every time.”
They call the girls grandma in, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends of the ham before cooking?” “Gosh, I don’t know why. Never thought of it. MY mother always cut the ends off, so that’s how I’ve always done it. How funny.”
The three ladies quickly walk out to the living room to find the girl’s great-grandmother sitting and talking with family. “G.G. I have a question for you. Why do you cut the ends of the ham off?”

“Well, I don’t know why YOU cut the ends of the ham off, but I had to cut the ends off or it wouldn’t fit into my oven!”

Lesson:
It’s good to know WHY you do what you do, so that you don’t waste any ham. 😉

Mom’s Holiday Ham


OK, true story:

One holiday four generations of family are all gathered together in the youngest daughter’s new home for a rare time together. This is her first time hosting a family dinner. Her mom is helping her with the ham. The daughter plops the large ham into its pan and asks the mom, “OK what do we do next?” “Well,” answered the mom, “first thing we need to do is cut off the ends of the ham, just the sides about 2 inches worth.” “Why?”, asks the daughter. “I don’t know, but my mom always did it, and her ham’s turn out great every time.”
They call the girls grandma in, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends of the ham before cooking?” “Gosh, I don’t know why. Never thought of it. MY mother always cut the ends off, so that’s how I’ve always done it. How funny.”
The three ladies quickly walk out to the living room to find the girl’s great-grandmother sitting and talking with family. “G.G. I have a question for you. Why do you cut the ends of the ham off?”

“Well, I don’t know why YOU cut the ends of the ham off, but I had to cut the ends off or it wouldn’t fit into my oven!”

Lesson:
It’s good to know WHY you do what you do, so that you don’t waste any ham. 😉

A Thick Ring Year

Written: Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Living on an island that is only 55 square miles is starting to work its magic into my mind and heart. If I was a tree this “ring” year would be a thick one, meaning that there was more than enough nourishment, sun, rain and love through out this year to keep me healthy. Not everyday was all sunshine & butterflies! But the storms in life can help keep us strong and alert; and there were many storms in 2008!

For me the material part of my life took the biggest hit ever this year! 2008 hurt my pocket book, my pantry, and closet. I wasn’t able to buy the items I wanted, and had to settle with JUST the items we needed. I felt poor and a little pouty but really- a bad year in America is still better than one in many other countries. If my suffering means I cant get a new couch, (needing one because mine has a busted spring), or a new set of towels (because the old ones are getting frayed), it’s still not as bad as needing say, food or shelter. So no maintenance purchases, just what is necessary. But real happiness shouldn’t come from material items, right?
Washington State winters are gray, cloudy, rainy, and windy. It sounds depressing. However, growing up here I’ve found a natural high every time I take a walk in the muck and come back to a warm home. Coming through the door is a refreshing reminder that not everything is cold and dark.

Just came back from town. It feels wonderful to walk about and say “hi” to the people I pass, “Thank you very much! Have a good day!” to the store keepers. Does it help that the Christmas lights are up all over and there’s that special good feeling in the air this time of the year? It does a little.

A couple of signs that I’m starting to become an islander is how many new sounds I recognize. While walking to the grocery store one day for example, I heard a truck coming up behind me on the road and a single dog “bark!” I knew right away whose dog that was and what truck would drive by me… and I was right. I almost didn’t take note of that moment, until I said to myself, “What’s next? Someone behind me will sneeze at the drug store and I’ll say “Bless you, Nancy.”?
Is familiarity needed to feel comfortable? I would argue yes it is. However I don’t think you need intimate understanding of the things around you before you’re comfortable, but perhaps just faith in the reactions, systems and relationships. If you are going on a journey this holiday season, you’ll know that some things never change no matter where you are in the world. That’s as comforting as a little rum in the eggnog!