Day 53: Thinking to Much

Shower Thoughts: If you were invisible, you’d be effectively blind since light would pass through your retina rather than striking it.

This morning I am writing from my bed-desk. I’m thinking about the parts of me that need a shower and weighing that against the effort to leave my warm bed.  The bedroom window is open a bit and the sounds of crows, seagulls, and chickadees, other spring birds, and that goddamn weed wacker play on random all morning.  How many weeds you gotta wack buddy?!  Landscapers in Bellingham are considered essential.  Go figure.

a pink crab-apple in full bloom

The crabapple tree outside the window has wilted. Old blooms still cling to the tree, waiting for the new fruit, developing below the surface, to push them off to the ground.

I heard on the radio this morning that nationally Americans spent less money on food in April than they did in March.  My grocery bills went up this last month because I’m shopping at smaller grocery stores; they have fewer products to help cover the cost for their property taxes, etc.  Are they grocery boutiques?  My cousin told me about a grocery store in the Chicago suburbs, where he use to live, that experimented with a carpeted grocery store.  It grossed everyone out, and you couldn’t navigate your shopping cart very well.  It was a fail.

path around the lake is wide

Friday is my day off.  Unless a “fire” happens with any of the properties or publications the day is mine.  Yep, all mine.

Traffic around town is almost at normal levels.  Many people, including myself, still drive distracted.  Forgetting to signal, not looking both ways, driving way to slow on the freeways.  It’s very strange or maybe it is normal now.

Decided last night to walk by the bay instead of my standard walk around the lake in the old-growth forest.  The park by the bay was packed!  I turned around and headed for another trail I know close by.  I’m just not ready to jump into a crowd yet, and that’s OK.  I’m not like my polar opposites that meet in groups for BBQ’s, house parties, and Capitol protests.  In other states, these folks carry guns in public to help illustrate their rights to assemble, get a haircut, and eat at the Applebees.  True Americans.  I wonder if they assemble because there are no “old” people in their lives?  Are there no friends around them that are “high risk” for the virus? Diabetics? Obese? Over 60-year-olds?  People recovering from cancer or other illness?  That must be it.  How nice of them to speak for us that do.

I look forward to this all being over.  I fear I will discover that my post-lockdown life is as similar to full pandemic mode.  Honestly, I FEEL the pandemic because it is everywhere.  It is a global event. This planet of peoples moan and wiggle like a two-year-old sitting through a piano recital.

IF the world were normal right now, which it will never be again, then I could enjoy this morning.  This morning where I slept in, until 8:37 a.m., ate breakfast & drank coffee in bed, started writing, and I’m still here at 11:36 am. Glorious.  If this was, let’s say, Friday, September 20, 2019, I would not label this morning a case of “pandemic depression”, no…it would be relaxation.  A person could even go so far as to say it is what the pre-pandemic modern world use to refer to as a “personal day.” (remember personal days?) I could find joy in working at home if all my neighbors got into their cars and drove to work this morning! THEN today would be a special day for me.  But, it is not.  It is day 53 of the lockdown, and there is nothing but the heavy responsibility of staying home and saving lives. Whatever…

**

Here is a draft I’m fussing with today:

Eyes Open
by Shannon Laws

I awake with a dry throat
from moaning in my sleep
I’m nailed to my bed
by the sounds of one a.m.

a rustle of false blueberry bush
heavy bodies trot by with a snort
I think I hear an owl a few blocks over
open mouths of raccoons act out a scene
play fight under the staged crab-apple tree

It’s so busy outside
at night
when all I do is sleep

##

My current mood expressed in a meme.  Take care.  Be a hero and stay home.
-Shannon

Day 47: Plague and Pestilence

Shower Thoughts: Vehicles today can surf the web, link to your phone, stream music and videos, etc.. but they still can’t perform a simple database lookup to tell you what the check engine light is on for.

My breakfast: strong coffee with coconut creamer, bagel, two hard-boiled eggs with my NEW favorite spice Tajin, which is chili peppers, sea salt and lime. What’s on your plate?

Good morning.  How ya’ doing today?  Are you up with the birds like me? If so imagine the two of us clinking our coffee cups together in a toast for a good day. *cheers*  Although there are many thoughts racing around my mind this morning, I’m just not too sure what to write about. It’s SO much–there are SO many topics.

The way I feel this morning reminds me of what my doctor said when he was mentally preparing me for the birth of my first child 30 years ago. He said something like, “As you know from the childbirth and newborn book I gave you the cervix will expand to 10 cm gradually.  The body will slowly open and prepare the way for the baby to exit the body.  Labor pains are just that—pain.  However, at the peak of labor, when the head and shoulders exit, that is the maximum expansion, alright.  Now, when that happens, the skin, muscles, and other tissue are SO stressed and at their limit, the nerves stop sending pain signals and basically the mother feels no pain.  Now, isn’t that something to look forward to?”  Sounds perfect.  Thanks, doc.  Men say this because they can’t possibly imagine a watermelon exiting their body from ANY hole, much less one that was made specifically for that purpose.  I know he was trying to be encouraging but, well, whatever.

Yesterday I had a write out!  I met with a friend on her front porch for a mask-wearing, 6 feet apart sitting, write out.  She has a cute classic home over in the Sunnyland Neighborhood.  Builders back in the early and mid-1900s understood the value of a good front porch—they are the original SOCIAL PLATFORM.  Our activity feels like we transported back to perhaps the 1950s, waving at neighbors as they walked by, shouting at another asking if they want some tomatoes cages, stuff like that.  This neighborhood is fortunate to be within walking distance of a great grocery store, bus lines, and parks.  In Bellingham, we are allowed to walk outside without citation but advised to not travel too far or too much or with too many people. This is to help reduce the chances of accidents in an effort to keep the hospital free from preventable causes.  In addition to friendly foot traffic, my friend also has many bird visitors.  She throws out some saltines to a crow she recognizes and then says to me “LOOK! He’s going to burying it up in that houses roof gutter”, and he does.

Later she offers me some sun tea she made.  I accept…and then there is another sign that the times are not themselves.  The freshly poured glass of tea is placed on the table. I wait for her to sit down, and then I stand to retrieve it.  It is possibly too dangerous, too rude, or hostile to be close enough to HAND someone something with an unloved hand.  Are we two ladies enjoying sun tea on a fine May afternoon, or are we masked rebels toying with death?

 

Here is an old poem I found in my notebook.  Think I’ll play with it a bit more.

The Salting Room
or Watching Cooking Shows Home Sick with the Flu (April 2019)
by Shannon Laws

The butcher knows if the pig was happy

red cow parmesan from a free-range life tastes better
solid and liquid
curds and whey
the Salting Room
20 months- sweet and rich
30 months- amino acids start
40 months- salty-sweet bitter

mother sits at the chair
closest to the kitchen
Fat transforms in the pan
in the oven, in the crock

we laugh and cry cutting onions with friends
I keep my miso to two or three years
hidden and pressed

Roll the dough until
it resists your thumb.
Debone and roll to a
long round roast.

Salt the meat
give it time
###

Here is my current mood expressed in a meme.  Enjoy your day my friendly bot.  -S

Day 27: Not Normal

If it wasn’t for the news I could believe this was a normal day in April.  

The sun is lower now, a quick glance at the clock and confirm 5:11 p.m. Most families will be off the trail, heading home for dinner.  It’s a good time for a walk around the lake.  

Coming up and around the southern end of the trail, I see them.  Hundreds of young thistles standing like soldiers, their singular three-pointed leaf faces worship the bright lake. It isn’t the dark moggy brown water it sees, but the sun.  The sun lights the surface of the lake white, tricks the young and I ask myself, “Does it matter? ”

A murder of four walks towards me, “Children there’s a person.  Put your masks on…” A bike races between us without ringing its bell.  It’s OK, we all saw it coming. The family shuttles pass, the bike zooms away and once again I am alone with the trees and the wide path.  I could sing, no one could hear me—the woods are that thick, but I don’t. 

Sitting at the west side park bench I notice the date on the dedication plaque installed squarely in the ground.  Dedicated to a gentleman born a month before my birthday, exactly, but died in 2002. I wonder, “What was I doing in 2002?” My mind is blank.  All I can think about are the ducks on the lake. Where are their nests?  

A chuckle of college kids is at the beach laughing at death.  Their loud vapor spreading voices travel across the water for the whole park to hear.  That is what still water does. All of these people at the lake, trying to be safe while getting some fresh air and this loud pack acting like its a normal day.  

 

My mood illustrated in meme.  -Be well, Shannon

 

Day 22: It’s All Good

Today felt like a normal day.  The middle of the week is busy-time. Busy-time is my normal.  I can’t help myself.  Perhaps, one day, I’ll be a free spirit like the porta potties in the video–blowing in the wind–but hopefully, I won’t be full of shit. hahahahaa!  Well, maybe a little.

1) an observed joy- I don’t want to jinx us, but the weather since the mandate started has been SO nice.  Spring birds are chirping up a storm, light breeze, blue skies, and sunshine= perfect.

2) a real concern- Today I saw the news clips from 4/13. Once again I’m absolutely flabbergasted by something our president said.  He represents many things that are wrong with our country. Yes, I am concerned.  Concerned and sadden.

3) a personal challenge- Remember to always bring a mask when I go out.

4) one personal success (no matter how small)- I checked off everything on my Tuesday to-do list.

5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- I believe I’ve experienced all five stages of grief during the lockdown– denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Here is my current mood expressed by a meme.  Take care of yourself, stay home, stay healthy, love one another.

 


“When somebody’s the president of the U.S., the authority is total, and that’s the way it’s gotta be.”
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/fact-check-trump-claims-it-s-his-call-when-reopen-n1182836

Noel Casler, a celebrity and comedian who used to work on the Apprentice, did a radio interview on CJAD with radio host Dave Kaufman and to say the interview was terrifying would be an understatement. He talked quite a bit about Donald Trump’s alleged drug habit, something that many people have openly discussed over the years. There was lots of buzz about him snorting Adderall and abusing Sudafed. But for some reason, everyone just…let it go once he won (stole) the election in 2016.

Then Casler moved on to the NDA’s and the reluctance (fear) that everyone in Hollywood has about coming about and saying what they really know about Trump and his family. People, sadly, put their own personal needs and careers over what is best for the country, so they chose to stay silent. Casler than talked about Trump sexually assaulting women – discussing the Barney’s dressing room, specifically.

https://crooksandliars.com/2020/01/ex-apprentice-staffer-noel-casler

Day 18: Little Cuties

Yesterday my daughter’s gift arrived!  It is a beautiful hand-sewn mask by a fabric artist who lives near my daughter on San Juan Island, Washington.  Here is the photo I took to share with you.  Placed my breakfast inside to simulate a nose.  I love the little cutie tangerines that come in mesh bags this time of year at my grocery store.

I heard on the radio this morning that the spring/summer harvest of many crops in America are left to rot in the fields.  They are essential of course, but there are two issues, the farmers have no money to pay the workers, and the mass majority of Americans can not afford the food, which dominoed into fewer buyers purchasing the bulk produce.
NPR Morning Edition reported:

“…In fact, the pandemic has caused entirely different problems: a spike in the number of people who can’t afford groceries and a glut of food where it’s not needed.
Dairy farmers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Georgia have been forced to dump thousands of gallons of milk that no one will buy. In Florida, vegetable growers are abandoning harvest-ready fields of tomatoes, yellow squash, and cucumbers for the same reason.”

Is there a food shortage coming? Once again I will attempt to quiet my panic. Calm it with prayer/meditation, give it to the trails I walk, allow it to transform into motivation and energize me while I work.  We have to trust that the people with direct influence over these decisions have the wisdom and courage to make the right choice for all of America.  It is difficult to trust our leaders.  Consistent empathy towards citizens is non-existent.  Personal gain is KING.

1) an observed joy- the Good Friday live stream service today

2) a real concern- No personal concerns at this time, but some things I am wondering about, for instance, when Washington re-opens, will they need to control our State’s borders?  Will the price of gas go up soon?

3) a personal challenge- My next shopping day is April 15th.  I want to have a new, leaner strategy, anticipating that Washington State will extend the mandate to the end of May.

4) one personal success (no matter how small)- I am stretching in the mornings with a 30-minute video I found on YouTube.

5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- Can I come out of the pandemic healthier than when I went in?

Here is a photo to illustrate my mood today.  Thank you for visiting my blog.  Please click “LIKE” and let me know you came by.  Peace & health be with you, Shannon


https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2020/04/03/826006362/food-shortages-nope-too-much-food-in-the-wrong-places

Day 17: New Normal

Yesterday I did not journal. After early coffee and breakfast, I hit the ground running with work, both at home, zooming, and on sites, and went grocery shopping.  When the day ended I watched some “Outlander” and went to bed early.

Out And About

Must admit, it was nice to get out and drive around my city.  It was the perfect day for a drive, a mild 50-something-sun-shinnin-blue-sky-day! I was curious about what new things I might encounter, you know…out there…in the outside world.  Getting onto the freeway, I rolled down all four windows and enjoyed rushing fresh air whipping around the inside of my car while listening to anything other than the news.  The 1st Wave channel works to break the mundane news trance if you’re interested.
-Although it was Wednesday, it looked like a Saturday.  Many folks in the neighborhoods were cutting their grass, washing their cars.
-Very light traffic, like what you might notice on a holiday, but, of course, with NO British Columbia plates due to the border closure.
-Many people riding bikes, folks walking their dogs and strolling babies.  Food drive-thrus still open.
-At Fred Meyer, I purchased 8 days worth of food—breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.  (Dang, it was expensive!)  There were small amounts of toilet paper available with signs to purchase no more than two packs of four.  It took me three attempts to retrieve coffee because the isle was too busy.  About 3/4 of the shoppers were wearing masks.
-Also, later, I noticed a white truck with a “Federal” seal driving around Happy Valley.  I’ve never seen that seal before and it caught my attention.  On the social website Nextdoor, a person took a photo of a Volvo that was video recording neighborhoods.  Are they looking for folks breaking the mandate? I wonder if the sightings are related? Curious.

1) an observed joy- Chatted with a neighbor I’ve never met while out for a walk.  We walked in the same direction on opposite sides of the road (plenty of space). We parted ways at an intersection and wished each other good health.

2) a real concern- Nothing new is being reported about airport screenings. I assume passengers are being screened, but, who knows. There appears to be little less airplane traffic these days.  To view every single airplane in the air this second, visit https://www.flightradar24.com/ 

3) a personal challenge- I need to find new ways to eat healthy for less.

4) one personal success (no matter how small)- I stretched for 30 minutes this morning.

5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- It’s so nice out this week.  This morning the air coming in my bedroom window reminded me of summers, when I was a kid, sleeping in our back yard.

Here is a pandemic meme that expresses how I felt yesterday going out to do errands.  Stay safe, stay healthy, stay happy. -Shannon

Day 15: Digging In

Being honest today I feel suspicious of the pandemic reactions, specifically in the United States and specifically regarding our political & medical leaders.  I live in a country that has some devastating statistics about citizens’ premature, preventable deaths.  Cigarette smoking is responsible for over 480,000 deaths a year, including 41,000 deaths resulting from second-hand smoke exposure such as a spouse or child.  Domestic violence: every 20 minutes a person or 10 million men and women a year in the US are physically abused by an intimate partner. Gun violence numbers fluctuate, but an estimated 100 people a DAY die from gun wounds; suicides, homicides, and accidents.  Of all the things to rally ’round the pole, to shut down EVERYTHING to get people’s attention, WHY select a virus that projected deaths for the year was around 250,000?  WHY?

What has changed that our government suddenly cares about 250,000 people dying prematurely?  Cares SO much that they are crashing the stock market, destroying businesses, stressing the beloved medical industry in order to reduce the numbers?  American’s have been dying in a variety of ways, preventable ways, for centuries. They say “follow the money” to discover the motive.  Global finances are not my thing.  I can only speculate, and, like a free citizen, I do.

Now, at the same time, the stoic in me says the pandemic and the statewide Stay Home Stay Healthy mandate is outside my control, and therefore I should not waste time worrying about it. Instead, focus on the personal challenges it presents to my day to day.    ..but I still think “WHY” and wonder–what am I missing in this equation?  Can it be because of world travel and how quickly a virus can spread they want to protect the countries with less sophisticated medical abilities from being completely devastated by COVID-19?  If so that is dang heroic of them, but somehow less likely behavior to expect from this gang of greedy badgers. What is their motivation?

OK- I need to go now and prepare for a Zoom meeting for work.

1) an observed joy- Typing from my bed-desk this morning, I appreciate the blankets.  I’ve owned them for almost 20 years I think. Colors and patterns of my familiar.  I am warmed by them & thankful.

2) a real concern- I am wondering if I’ll ever be able to relax and enjoy this time away from physically running around? The other day, about 1-2:00 o’clock, I had this weird sensation that I had to be somewhere.  Three times I checked my to-do list and calendar, and no, the places I thought I had to be at were closed or available by appointment only.
This is not a vacation.  I can’t go out for dinner, a movie, a play.  If I can find a way to work from home and freaking RELAX  I might come out the other end of all this a better person.

3) a personal challenge- Try and keep your normal sleep pattern, walk twice a day. Focus on the NOW.

4) one personal success (no matter how small)- a successful department meeting for me yesterday.  I have very pointed goals and to-do list this week.  My boss was sick the first two weeks of the lockdown and I lacked organizational direction during this pandemic.

5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- My daughter who lives on San Juan Island, a place with a small but strong artist community, has mailed me a fancy hand sewn face mask made on the island.  Can’t wait to see it.

Here is my daily mood expressed by a meme, stay safe, stay healthy -Shannon

 

 


https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm
https://ncadv.org/statistics
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States

Day 14: It Gets Real

This is Monday.  Normally I turn on my cell at 7-7:30 am and within 60 seconds various tones notify me of new emails or texts.  Working a Saturday to Wednesday shift, Monday is when most of my contacts respond to various communications from the previous week.  EVERYONE is in the office on Monday.  Today, all the organizations I work with are sheltered in place some since the week of 3/16.  The flow of work and communication is showing a noticeable difference.  It’s no longer a racehorse jumping out of the gate at 7:00 am.

This morning my silent phone feels a bit eerie.

1) an observed joy- Enjoyed the Palm Sunday live stream with the church; many of the parishioners displayed clipped fern leaves, a palm-like stalk found in almost every Northwest yard, for the occasion.  Later that evening Zooming with my family, a phone call catch up with a writing friend, was touching as well.

2) a real concern- Two of my friends believe the lockdown will be extended into June or July.  I REALLY hope they are wrong. As a social worker, I understand that people and families in crisis live in a pandemic-like state constantly, with no foreseeable end.  The common suburbian- in crisis -is an unstable animal.

3) a personal challenge- I want to increase my walks from 4-5  a week to twice a day.

4) one personal success (no matter how small)-I’ve tackled my file cabinet, and I’m doing better about leaving a pile of dishes in the sink.

5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- How long in lockdown before I vacuum behind the bookshelf? There is a spider web back there amongst the dust bunnies and a forgotten hair tie. It is a guardian of all things hidden and forgotten.

Here is my current mood expressed in a pandemic meme.  It’s a shout out to all the ‘effin’ people over 70 I see in the grocery stores rocking the isle without a mask with a “death can not touch me” attitude, meanwhile…

 

 

Day 12: Touch My Hand

Last night I dreamed someone touched my hand.  I was sitting on a grassy hill with three schoolmates.  One of the young men touched my hand!  In the dream, I felt shocked, scared of the germs and the boldness he possessed to touch another person’s hand.  What is my subconscious chewing on?  Is this the beginning of a post-pandemic world? Although I am living with a family member, working from home, video conferencing three times weekly, and go on an occasional errand for work, am I beginning to miss human contact…while fearing it at the same time?  Even without a pandemic to remind us, humans require human contact of all types, it can’t be denied.

Hopefully, we will continue to practice safe social interaction, including hugs.  Research shows that hugging may help reduce stress and lower your risk of anxiety, depression, and illness. Consider what a simple hug can do: Helps you feel connected. Hugging helps connect you to others and can reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation

1) an observed joy- breakfast in bed felt especially fabulous this morning.

2) a real concern- Wondering if I should take the virus test.  I have no symptoms but I am an essential worker who occasionally needs to talk to the public.  I will ask my doctor.

3) a personal challenge- tonight, put on a trashy movie and go through your file cabinet!

4) one personal success (no matter how small)- This morning the kitchen was clean.  Changed my whole mood.

5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- This made me laugh this morning, read in the Whatcom Breaking News FB page:

1500 block Birchwood Ave. – Suspicious Person
Male riding a bicycle, playing demonic music from a boombox, waving around something that looks like a firearm, wearing a mask

Here is my mood meme for the day-

Day 9: Meetings all day

I’m tired tonight and don’t want to write in my journal.  I no longer cross-promote my website or poetry books, much less my radio programs.  It’s easy to understand, I am the only person reading these daily entries. Me and the bots. I’m going to take day 10 off and start journalling in the morning.  I’m more productive in the morning.

truth: If I go perhaps 3 blocks over, in any direction, maybe there is a house with domestic abuse happening, the shelter in place mandate is a prison sentence for these victims.  There are many families rationing the food in their cupboards.  Across the nation, many people went on Rent Stike- not paying April’s rent due to the pandemic and increased layoffs. Can we make it to April 30th?  Will violence break out or protests? Looting?  I can’t imagine that happening, but how long can you expect the frog to stay in the pot?

Good news: Twice today I heard different news sources report new cases in Washington state virus outbreaks went down.

1) an observed joy- Work kept me busy today. I did not FEEL the pandemic, it has become an accepted reality. I’m working with it and moving forward.  Trying to approach it as a true stoic.

2) a real concern- My daughter’s health.  She lives in a condo that shares fan ducts with the unit below her.  She is sheltering in place. Between 11pm and 3am a strong chemical smell comes up through the floor and the vents from below.  It wakes them up, gives them headaches, etc. They believe the neighbors are smoking meth.  She has called the police, the Health Department, and the condo manager- nothing.

3) a personal challenge-  We are working on a big project. I need to do research in a new discipline. The project must roll out and be in place by 4/30.

4) one personal success (no matter how small)-I walked all the way around the lake trail today; a full hour in a beautiful old-growth forest.

5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- When the pandemic is over, how will society change? Will we all be germaphobic?  Will the casual hug among friends become an elevated action?  Maybe we’ll make love electronically like people did in Sylvester Stallones “Demolition Man”.

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