GETTING OLD IS GETTING OLD By RICH PASCHALL

GETTING OLD IS REALLY GETTING OLD, by Rich Paschall

When you think of all the things you want to be when you grow up, “old” probably is not on the list.  You may think about being a doctor or nurse.  You may consider lawyer or politician.  Fireman or police officer may be on your list.  In fact, in your elementary school days you may have changed your mind many times. It is OK to dream about the future and fantasize about what you should do some day.

If superhero is on your list, you may have to give that one up rather quickly, unless you are Robert Downey, Jr.  He is still playing Iron Man past the ripe old age of 50.  I guess that is a commentary on keeping yourself in good shape.  Of course, he is just play acting, like we do as kids, and he certainly has a stunt double.  Your own life does not come with a stunt double, sorry.

If we give it any thought at all while we are young, of course we want to live a long life.  Therefore, we do want to get old.  If accident or disease does not rob us of life too soon, then we will indeed get old.  It is all the things that go with it that I am not too pleased about.

Contemplating the years
Contemplating the years as the sun sets.

I did notice the changes in my grandparents as they got older.  I am certain that I threaded needles for both my grandmothers at some point in time.  I knew they could not see as well as when they were younger, but I never thought about that being me some day.  Yes, I can still thread a needle, but I probably have to hold it at just the right distance in order to do so.  In fact, I really need trifocals, but I have settled for two pair of bifocals instead.  The bottom part is the same on each, but one pair is strictly for the computer.  The top part of the glasses are set to optimize the view from where the monitor should be, a little more than arm’s distance away.

This is not fooling anyone, of course, not even myself.  People can see I switch glasses in order to see.  I should have gotten the same style glasses so it would be less obvious.  When I am on Skype, and can see myself back on the screen, I really do not like the look but I am stuck with them for a while.  At least glasses have gotten better and these are not as thick or heavy as ones I wore years ago.

72-LensCrafters-Auburn-Mall_22

As my grandfather got older, I noticed he sometimes used a cane to help him get up, or walk around.  When he was in his 80’s, he never left the house without the cane.  He just might have too much trouble walking while he was away. Sometimes when I walk past a window or mirror, I think for just a moment the reflection I see is my father or grandfather.  My stepmother once said that I should take it as a complIment that people see me as my father, since he was so handsome, but I began to think they saw me as they saw him later in life.  That is, old.

When you see pictures of me, you generally will not see the cane.  I set it down for the shot.  Years ago my doctor sent me to a sports medicine guy for a foot problem of still undetermined origin.  Maybe I was playing sports in the park long after a time when I should have moved on.  Maybe I suffered some trauma that came back to get me.  Maybe it was related to some disease I contracted.  In any case, I had it operated on, which did not help.  Years later I had another operation.  That did not help either.  I had many procedures in between.  Was it just an issue of getting older?  We will never know for sure.

I have heard it said that the aches and pains we feel as we get older are not a natural part of life and we should not just accept them.  Perhaps some accept them when they could feel better, but I have never accepted them.  I have spent a good deal of time getting to know my doctor and all that goes on in his business.  Yes, I might as well interview him a little, he interviews me a lot.  Together we have looked for solutions to my various problems.

The Gabapentin for the foot nerve pain does not seem to eliminate the problem, even if it lessens it.  The Lidocaine patch may numb the pain, but I cut the patch down because a completely numb foot is not a good thing for walking and creates a dull pain, which actually is not much better than a sharp pain.

My doctor does not like my diet or my cholesterol.  He seems to cast a skeptical eye at my insistence that I watch the cholesterol rating on the food I buy.  That does not include restaurant food, however.  Or what John cooks for dinner.  Statins did not work.  They created muscle and joint pain I could not stand.  The non-statin anti-cholesterol pills are not as effective, but hold less side effects, apparently.  Other problems and medications have come and gone. Parts wear out, you know.

Recently a high school classmate of mine wrote to say he had finally gotten in to a senior center he had applied for a while ago.  He had a variety of health issues in recent years and needed to get into such a community.  I wrote back that I could not imagine that any of us would be talking Senior Center, because it seemed like just a few years ago we were in high school together.

With any luck at all, old age will catch you some day.  You will probably feel it coming.

Related: Share If You Are Old Enough To Remember (humor)
To Not Grow Old Gracefully (Sunday Night Blog)

IF NOT ME, WHO WOULD I BE?

I can’t imagine wanting to be anyone (or anything) but me. In a dream, maybe something else — a horse, an eagle, a dolphin. But that’s dream stuff, not reality. When I was a teenager, during those hyper hormonal years, I wanted to be anyone but me — though even then, I never wanted to be anything other than human. I grew into accepting myself pretty quickly. By the time I was in my 20s, was reasonably fond of at least the mental section of me. Physically, though, I’ve always had issues with my body. Ill health has stalked me from early on. By the time I was in my late 20s, I used to laugh and tell people that, with the help of modern medicine, I’m living proof the unfit can survive.

So here I am, alive and still complaining. Since early ill-health, I’ve moved on to major ill-health.  I’m sure someone elsewhere has even more after-market parts than me, but I’ve never personally met anyone who has more installed after-market installations. The good news? I’ll never be an unidentified Jane Doe on the autopsy table because I carry 4 cards with serial numbers identifying my various implants: a pacemaker, both breasts, and two heart valves. The piece of plastic fibula in my right leg predates serial numbers.

So here’s the thing. I don’t want to be someone or something else. Not for a year or a day. What I want is to be is me, preferably the all-original, functional version of me. That would be a nice touch. Even with arthritis, heart problems, a redesigned intestinal tract and a fused spine and having had cancer in both breasts? I still would rather be me. I would have no idea how to be anyone else. Would anyone? I should think that being someone else would be the weirdest possible place to find oneself. Weirder than being a space alien or a different creature on earth. Whatever rocks we have in our heads, they are OUR rocks!

So I’ll keep me. Slow moving, achy old me. I’m glad I’m alive.

Today was beautiful. Bright, sunny and cool. Maybe we’ll have a few more weeks of this. Maybe after two bad years, we’ll get autumn back, the kind of autumn for which the Valley used to be famous. 2020 has been a terrible year. A fine fall would make all of us feel a lot better.

DOGMA

FOWC with Fandango — Dogma

UU Church 44

Unless you count drinking coffee and checking email as dogma, I don’t have dogma to which I feel attached. I do, however, have personal rituals. Stuff I do, stuff in which I believe or at least think I believe. As time has galloped by, I’ve renounced stuff. I didn’t really need it anyhow. I gave up worrying. I gave up working. I gave up the lottery, although I occasionally still buy a ticket — just in case.

I gave up wanting a new car or expecting old friends to call. Some of them don’t remember me. Some don’t remember themselves. I’ve stopped hoping Hollywood will make movies I like, even though they sometimes release a good one. I’ve stopped trying to like new music and most television shows. I’ve stopped trying to figure out why evil people got that way or what their motives might be. They just ARE and maybe I don’t want to understand them.

Some stuff gave me up. When anyone asks me how or why I have given up whatever it was, I tell them it was for religious reasons. Almost no one has the temerity to ask what I mean by that. But so you know, I will reveal my secret.

I don’t mean anything. It’s nothing more than a way to end a conversation. No one wants to offend me by asking for the details of my religious beliefs. Who knows? They might turn out to be embarrassing or bizarre. Thus my all-purpose answer to everyone is “religious principles,” or “my spiritual adviser told me to do it.” Given current events, you can but imagine what enormous power these words hold. They will make a conversation vanish without telling someone to shut up. It works on everyone except those who really know me. They will raise one or more eyebrows, and fall over laughing.

If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit. For religious reasons. No Dogma requiured.

MAR-A-LAGO: MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH – BY TOM CURLEY

You might think by now that we would be emerging from the COVID-19 disaster. But we aren’t. In fact, more than half of our states are in worse shape now than they were a couple of months ago. Florida had more new cases today than any other state has ever had … or any other country has had. We haven’t hit the second rebound stage. We have yet to get out of the initial first stage. Meanwhile, Trump is INSISTING — and threatening to withold education funding for states that don’t do as he says even though he has not right to withhold that money from any state — that every child has to be in school this fall. I think his little one Barron should be sent to a public school. I bet that would change his mind.

I’ve been thinking about this blog for about a week now. It was going to be a very clever (well in my mind at least) parody of Edgar Alan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death.

It was going to be about an imaginary land called “Merika”. That wasn’t its original name, but the Prince who ruled over it and his followers could never pronounce it quite right. So, they just changed it.

The Prince’s name was Prospero. He wasn’t actually a prince even though he thought he was a king. And his name wasn’t Prospero. He had changed his original name to Prosperous because he constantly told his subjects he was a great and wealthy businessman. He never could spell it correctly in his royal tweets, so, everybody just started calling him that. Why? Because you could never say the Prince did anything wrong. Ever. Ever. Ever.

So, of course, as in the book, a great plague overtook the land. In just a few short weeks millions were infected and thousands were dying. So, what did the Prince do? He said it was a hoax. Everything was fine. If it was real, it would only affect people who didn’t like him. He called them “The Never Prosperos”.

He asked his minister of Health, a very wise old doctor who had dealt with many plagues in the past, what he should do. Then he did the exact opposite. As the plague got worse, he gathered all his rich friends and he retreated to his beautiful luxury vacation palace. It was called Mar-A-Lago. The problem was that it wasn’t really that beautiful or that luxurious.

In fact, it was sort of a dump. It had garish fake gold decorations everywhere. The Prince even had a gold toilet. But nobody ever said anything. No one could ever give the Prince bad news. Ever.

To prove how great everything was for him and his followers he threw a great masquerade party at the vacation palace. His wife decorated all the rooms in different colors. But only one color for each room. Just like she did in the main palace during the Christmas holidays.

They were really sort of creepy and weird. But nobody said anything because the Prince said they were great. The greatest rooms in the history of rooms. Ever.

Every hour on the hour a band would play “Hail to the Prince.”  Very loudly and very badly. This was because the palace band had all come down with the plague and were dead. The only band the Prince could find was a band called “Three Doors Down”. They had never played the song before, so they did what all bad bands do. If you can’t play it well,  play it loud. When they did all the guests would cover their ears and grimace. For some reason, people don’t like Three Doors Down.  When the last guest arrived, the Prince had the doors to the Palace locked and sealed so nobody who had the plague could get in. The only problem was the last guest wasn’t wearing a mask. He was wearing a red hat that said: “Make Merika Great Again.” He wore it because it was sold by the Prince’s company and the Prince wanted all his followers to wear one.

The original hats were made in China, where the plague originated and it was on all the red hats. So, the plague made it into the palace and no one, not even the Prince could escape it because he had sealed all the doors.

 The End


All and all, I thought it was pretty clever. Then reality said, “Too late, already done!”  Our actual wanna-be King had a real party down in Mar-A-Lago where he invited all his sycophant followers like Lindsey Graham and the Ambassador from Brazil and they all laughed at the Democrats’ response to the Covid 19 virus.

They hugged and shook hands and all told the King what a great job he was doing. The only problem was the Ambassador and a few other folks there already had the virus.

Graham has dropped off the planet because he is in self-quarantine. Matt Gaetz, a congressman whose head is so far up Trump’s ass he can see Sean Hannity wore a gas mask to a House vote on an emergency bill to help fight the virus.

He wanted to show what a joke the whole thing was. That was until he found out he was exposed to the virus a week earlier at the CPAC convention. He had to sit all alone on Air Force One on the trip home and now he is in self-quarantine.

You just can’t make this shit up.

We’re at the beginning of an unimaginable catastrophe and we’re being forced to listen to a bunch of ass clowns hold press briefings each day where all they do is tell us how the King is doing a great job and everything is just fine.  Except for Doctor Anthony Fauci, the only sane voice in the room. I’m stunned he hasn’t been fired yet.

This is as serious as a heart attack. Stay safe. Wash your hands. Stay home if possible. Don’t shake hands. Practice social distancing.

And for Christ’s sake STOP BUYING TOILET PAPER!! I know our government is full of shit. But that’s not going to help.

Not really the end … 

‘CAUSE EVERYTHING’S FINE RIGHT NOW – Marilyn Armstrong

We all know that everything isn’t fine right now but this song reminds me of times when everything was fine. I hope I’m still around when they are fine again.

Music triggers memory for me as nothing else can, transporting me backward like a time traveler to a world and a “me” I sometimes forget existed. I love this song. I like the words and melody, but mostly, I love it because it’s the song I sang to my son in the wee hours while I nursed him. Night and day lost any real meaning; sleep was catch-as-catch-can.

I was nursing, so my baby was hungry. He needed feeding every couple of hours. Sleep could wait, my baby couldn’t.

96-BabyOandMe-HP

For the first few months, I almost never went to bed. My son lived on my hip, in my lap, next to me on the sofa … wedged just slightly between the cushions so he wouldn’t fall if I drifted off watching old movies, but ready to wake when he next needed feeding.

Mothering was less structured in 1969. I didn’t know there were rules I should follow, so I made it up as I went along. I was only 22, not much more than a child myself. Being a young mother was natural and unlike other things in my life, I didn’t over-think it. I was playful, young enough to enjoy playing patty cake with a giggling infant.

This was a good lullaby in 1969. It’s still a good lullaby, performed by John Kirkpatrick.


Everything’s Fine Right Now

Who’s that knocking on my door?
Can’t see no-one right now.
Got my baby here by me,
can’t stop, no, no, not now.

Oh, come a little closer to my breast,
I’ll tell you that you’re the one I really love the best,
and you don’t have to worry about any of the rest,
cause everything’s fine right now.

And you don’t have to talk and you don’t have to sing,
You don’t have to do nothing at all;
Just lie around and do as you please,
you don’t have far to fall.

Oh, come a little closer to my breast,
I’ll tell you that you’re the one I really love the best,
and you don’t have to worry about any of the rest,
’cause everything’s fine right now.

Oh, my, my, it looks kind of dark.
Looks like the night’s rolled on.
Best thing you do is just lie here by me,
of course only just until the dawn.

Oh, come a little closer to my breast,
I’ll tell you that you’re the one I really love the best,
and you don’t have to worry about any of the rest,
’cause everything’s fine right now.

 

HOW COME THERE AREN’T ENOUGH TAKERS FOR TESTS? – Marilyn Armstrong

WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE GET TESTED?

Have any of you tried to get tested and been told you can’t get tested if you don’t have a heavy cough and a high fever … and because you are over 70, you know this information is not true? Apparently, you are more knowledgeable than the medical people to whom you are talking.

I had that kind of a day today.

From The Washington Post:

He was talking about this story on the front page of The Washington Post this week that found at least a dozen states have more tests than patients taking them. Health officials aren’t sure why — maybe people don’t realize there are more tests now after months of scarcity, or that you can get a test now in some states even if you only have mild symptoms. African Americans, who are being hit hard by the coronavirus, tend to be wary of medical professionals, one expert said.


If any of you have tried to be tested, you’ve run into the same barriers. If you don’t have a specific set of symptoms, you can’t get tested. Never mind that they have plenty of tests, they are hoarding them from the people who need to be tested. The point of getting all these tests was to track the disease. See who has it, had it, where are the hotspots, and are you living in one of them. Where is the virus going and are you wearing a target?

Or are you one of the people who have had it, but had different symptoms? If they are going to trace, they are supposed to be testing everyone, not just those people that happen to have the specific initial symptoms that were typical of the disease.

All the children hospitals are finding who have had heart attacks after having had the disease. Which isn’t supposed to kill children, but its after-effects are killing children. Of the people who instead of coughs and fevers get gastrointestinal problems. Diarrhea, vomiting. Or instead of coughing got severe aches and pains that go on for weeks.

Garry and I that problem in January and no one knew what was wrong with us. We went to the doctor. We didn’t have anything anyone could figure out and we went home. Some weeks later, we were better. I wrote about it at the time, but officially, there was no Coronavirus in the U.S. The virus wasn’t supposed to be here but I’m sure it was. Now, researchers at hospitals are discovering people who had it in December.

So when did it arrive? November? December? Definitely by January. How long was it lurking in China and how many people traveled back and forth to China on business, vacation or to visit family?

The symptoms for people over 70 are not the same as symptoms for younger victims or older victims. This virus is not well understood. The high fevers and coughs are less common, especially high fevers. People our age rarely run high fevers for any reason. Since I passed 65, I don’t think — even when I had pneumonia and was recovering from heart surgery. By the time I hit 99, that’s a serious fever for me because my normal body temperature is around 96-point-something-or-other. By the time it hits 99, it is a fever.

The virus shows up in with a boatload of symptoms that may or may not be the officially listed symptoms. If they actually want to get everyone tested, get the vans ready. Go into neighborhoods — rich, poor, and otherwise — and TEST people. My son has been trying to get tested for months and has yet to be tested.

In Massachusetts, we only test people who are near death. We miss the rest.

In Australia, they sent vans around to give tests to everyone they could find. I was on the telephone with a woman at our hospital and she wasn’t sure how you got a test unless you had a heavy cough and a high fever and thought maybe you would die.

So why aren’t there more people who want testing? Everyone wants to get tested, but they refuse to give tests to people who don’t meet their very specific criteria. What a waste! They aren’t even trying to track the disease and I’m pretty sure they are guaranteed an autumnal jump in cases that will be worse than the first round. Because they aren’t doing what they promised to do.

Sometimes, if you want the answer to a question, ask regular, frustrated, pissed-off citizens who have been trying to get tested but no one will order the tests, even though our insurance (Medicare) covers those tests 100%.

HOMEBODIES ON LOCKDOWN – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I never thought that being a homebody would uniquely qualify me to withstand a worldwide crisis, but it has. My “happy place” or “safe place” has always been at home. Growing up, my parents and I always tried to stay at home in pajamas together on Sundays and I cherished this weekly ritual. In the summer, at our country house, we often stayed home for days on end and usually only ventured out to shop once a week. A day when I didn’t have to leave the house (or the property in the summer), was a great day.

For most of my adult life, staying home was just not an option and I adjusted to a busy life out in the world. But whenever I had to leave home for a trip, I would get anxious. I would obsess over packing and arrangements for taking care of the kids, dogs and/or house while I was away. The anxiety didn’t keep me home, but it made the prepping and planning for a trip anxiety-ridden and difficult. I still feel anxious when leaving and I start planning what to take weeks in advance to make sure that I take everything I could possibly need.

Whenever possible, I try to plan my life so that I do most of my errands on one or two days so I can have several days in a row when I don’t have to leave the house. Sometimes I even stock up enough supplies so I only have to shop every ten days to two weeks.

Flash forward to the Coronavirus pandemic and the stay at home, shelter in place orders we have been living with for close to two months now. I realized that by nature, I am well suited to get through this crisis with flying colors. I’m being ordered by my Governor to stay home. No problem! The rest of the world is now afraid to leave their homes – so now everyone is living my dream of staying home all the time. I’m no longer an outlier – my slightly neurotic behavior patterns are now the norm and I’m no longer quirky, I’m just a good citizen. This is my finest hour! I’m a pro at going out as little as possible.

This crisis has created a planet full of agoraphobics. I’ve read numerous articles about how long it will take for people to feel comfortable again going out to restaurants or theaters or any place where they are closely exposed to strangers. Even when governors open up parts of the economy, there’s no guarantee that people will come out and leave their safety zones until they’re very sure that it’s safe. That may require levels of testing that we just don’t have right now. Several of my friends have literally not left their houses for over six weeks and get everything delivered to the house. Even I have been going out once a week to shop and get mail. These friends will certainly not jump back into their previous routines of shopping, socializing, and eating out any time soon.

I feel lucky that I’m not ‘suffering’ from being cooped up at home as many people are. I don’t feel ‘trapped’ and I don’t have cabin fever. But I’m sheltering at home with my husband and two dogs so I’m not alone. On the other hand, I don’t have to deal with children and their homeschooling and/or working from home. So adjusting to the new reality has not been stressful for me. We’ve been using Zoom and Facetime to ‘socialize’ with friends and family several times a week so I still feel connected with loved ones.

My husband and I also retired before the virus struck so we weren’t going to work every day anyway. As a result, our daily routines have not been altered dramatically. We both get up at our usual time and get dressed every day – no pajamas during the day. However, I don’t curl my hair or put on makeup and I do wear my furry Uggs instead of real shoes. We mostly miss dinners with friends on the weekends (most of our friends are younger and still working during the week). We will miss entertaining people on the boat when it gets into the water and spending leisurely days hanging out on the dock with others.

Because of our stage of life and my basic nature, we’re surviving the total disruption of life on earth better than most. I’m now part of the mainstream of worldwide agoraphobics who won’t leave our homes until Dr. Fauci tells us it’s safe out there!

HOW AND WHEN TO USE THE HEIMLICH MANEUVER – Marilyn Armstrong

I sneeze early and often. I sneeze loudly. Ferociously. For no reason. I don’t know my maximum number of sneezes in a row, but it’s more than fifteen. After that, I’m dizzy and I don’t know what’s going on.

So last night, I was eating a protein bar and I started to sneeze. After the first four sneezes, I inhaled and pulled a lot of protein bar bits into my bronchial tubes. Now I was sneezing and I was choking.

Garry was asleep, without hearing aids, so he couldn’t hear me. I kept choking for a long time with intermittent sneezing. Eventually, I managed to cough up enough protein bar bits to stop choking. Which was a relief because even if I’d woken Garry, he has no idea how to do the Heimlich Maneuver.

Most people don’t.

So, here are instructions. They even include how to do it for yourself if no one is around.

You’re welcome.

WARNING: Avoid having a mouthful of food when you start a marathon sneezing fit.

SO WHEN DO YOU THINK IT’S SAFE TO GO BACK OUT THERE? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #65

A very relevant question this time.

To a large degree, I’ve already answered this question in a couple of posts, as has Tom Curley. It’s certainly a question we have all asked each other. Meanwhile, our president is not merely a moron. He is a murderer. Thank the heavens that we have governors who seem to actually care about the people who live in their states.

The question is:

First, yes, we are living in a locked-down state. Massachusetts is just beginning to surge. Here in Worcester County, we have no tests. When Owen asked his doctor if he could get a test, she just laughed.

We have no way to figure out who has it, or who already had it. The only place there is testing is in Boston and we aren’t there. Out here, we have no tests, no grocery delivery, and empty shelves in the grocery because all the deliveries go to Boston and almost nothing comes out this way.

May 1st is just two weeks away. Since we have no tests or a vaccine, essentially if Garry and I were to take Coronahead seriously, we’d likely be dead in a couple of weeks. The reality is that until most of us have been tested and a vaccine has been authorized — and enough people have been vaccinated to limit the potential spread of the disease — we aren’t going anywhere.

Why not? Well, let’s see. Garry is 78 and by age alone is highly vulnerable. I’m a mere 73, but I’ve got asthma and have had major heart surgery, which makes me super vulnerable. Or, to put it another way, our doctor said (and I quote): “You and your husband are not going anywhere. Nowhere. You get this disease and you are both dead. So you aren’t going anywhere!”

We haven’t gone anywhere nor have we plans to go anywhere. For me, until most people have been tested and we know who was sick and who is sick, we can’t even think about it.

How are we going to handle a presidential election? Are they going to send us paper ballots that we can mail? Probably in Massachusetts and New York, but there are a lot of states that might not. In those states, the people who are most likely to vote — senior citizens — won’t go anywhere near a polling place.

Everything the president has said is a lie. A big lie or a gigantic lie. The millions of tests we are supposed to have never arrived, The drive-through test sites? There is one in the entire state and I’m betting most states have none. We don’t know how many sick people there are in many states because they’ve done no testing on anyone.

So when are we going to feel safe going out?

When there are tests and we know who is or was sick and there’s a vaccine. And most people have been vaccinated. That could be months away. Maybe a year away. This could be a very long siege.

HUNKER IN THE BUNKER – RICH PASCHALL

A Viral Verse, by Rich Paschall

It’s time to hunker in your Bunker.
But don’t sequester next to Lester.
He might have the virus.
He’s been sitting close to Iris.

And stay away from Bill,
He thinks he’s got a chill.
And you will have a pain
If you’re listening to Jane.

Jim has not been cool,
Had a party at his school.
And just to add a bonus,
He invited his friend Jonas.
They had a lot of folks,
Telling many dirty jokes.
He picked up a quick a kiss
From his handsome buddy Chris.

Some have not been seen,
Must be in the quarantine.
We will say it quick,
We hope they are not sick.
Others are at the store,
And invited several more.
They didn’t hear or care,
They shouldn’t be out there.
May we just repeat,
To keep at least six feet.

Still, there’s some resistance,
About keeping a good distance.
Heed the advice of your physician,
Not some wealthy politician.

WE WERE NEVER A CURRIER AND IVES COUPLE – GARRY ARMSTRONG

The title comes from an episode of “The West Wing” which we are binging again in this early spring of discontent and dismay.  The series is even better this time around, a great mental prescription from the Coronavirus while our world seeks a political hangover cure.

Many of us, struggling with the present, have tinted memories of the past, recent and distant.  There’s the yearning for the good old days when our lives were more stable and strife seem relegated to small countries on the other side of the world. We were younger, more innocent and more naive.

The Currier and Ives (or Norman Rockwell) images dominate our collective memories.  It’s a return to Main Street, white picket fences in Pleasantville that never really existed except in TV Land. You can almost smell those Sunday dinners with the family gathered around the table, roast turkey, mashed potatoes, hot buns and the smell of apple pie baking in the oven.

The memories seem so real you can almost touch them.  We yearn for them right now in this time of plague and uncertainty. We ache for those days when we could believe in our political leaders and when sports was an unchallenged relief from the headaches of yesteryear and yesterday.  When Mom and Dad could calm our fears and we weren’t responsible for our lives. The way we were.  Or were we?

We don’t remember Mom and Dad quietly wrestling with problems we didn’t understand because we were kids. We usually were told that there were no worries.  “You’ll understand when you grow up,” we were told.

We took those reassurances to bed, sure that everything would be okay in the morning.  Our tomorrows usually erased our youthful, short-term angst.

Many of us are now in the autumn of our years.  Mom and Dad are gone and we are left to make sense of today’s madness for our children and grandchildren. It’s difficult to explain, to find answers for all that’s gone wrong.  How do you make sense of a world turned upside down before your eyes?  We’re not living Currier and Ives lives and really, never were. We’re left wondering if those romanticized images of our youth have any truth.

Maybe it’s easier to believe that those were the good, old days rather than trying to stomach reality.  It’s like clinging to the images of old films with Hollywood endings. We’re desperate for heroes, good news, and happy endings for these long dark nights that drag into the morning. We’re not Currier and Ives but it’s nice to recall times when life seemed easier. When we could laugh freely and look forward to tomorrow.

I can see Wolf Blitzer and friends laughing in the Situation Room — with NO breaking news.

Here’s something to think about: give yourself a break. If there’s nothing you can do, do nothing and enjoy it. Everything is in motion, everything is changing. Relax now. Who knows what will be coming down the road in another week?

SNOW BY DAY & A DASH OF DUKE – Marilyn Armstrong

I got up and went into the kitchen. It was snowing. Just a little bit at that point. Just a dusting — a rather wet dusting. I figured it was going to stop any minute, but it kept on snowing for most of the day. For all I know, it still is snowing, but it’s dark.

Flying Squirrel in a fast glide while another is eating.

There are probably a few raccoons outside and no doubt a handful of the bandits who’ve been hitting the feeders with a vengeance every night. As well as Flying Squirrels. Our nighttime visitors.

Chipping Sparrow
Downy Woodpecker

Today, there were the usual birds at the feeders. Goldfinches, older, younger and a few adolescents. Titmouses. Nuthatches.  On one branch of our tree, there were half a dozen Mourning Doves lined up, one after the other. Hunkered down because it was colder than most of the winter.

It’s supposed to be 60 degrees tomorrow and there are early buds on the trees. At least a month early and in some cases, more than two. The weather has been zephyr breeze-like from late Autumn until winter was officially past and Spring has technically come.  So we got our first snow for the season today and it will all melt tomorrow.

Goldfinch in snow

I wonder how much of our current plague has to do with how badly we’ve treated the earth? No one has said anything about it, but the world is very different than it was merely ten years ago. The changes are deep, profound, and every bit as worrying as the current plague. As soon as we stop sheltering in our homes (those of us who are lucky enough to have homes in which to shelter) will be instantly sideswiped into the planetary crisis.

And just look at the heft of those raccoons!

When we stop dying of plague and we have something resembling an economy, we will be back to the upcoming and not far-off death of our (human) position as the dominant species on planet Earth.

What is this world I am living in? I know how we got here — but I also don’t understand how so many of us let it go. Tomorrow was always another day while we were busy dealing with today’s issues.

Snowy Goldfinch
Junco with the Toad

We don’t seem able to plan ahead. Individually maybe, but collectively we are failures. Despite our upgraded brains, we aren’t that much ahead of our dogs and cats. We live in the moment because tomorrow, much less the year after, is far too complicated. Now is too complex for most of us to manage. You have no idea how often I want to throw my arms into the air and say to the universe: “You win. I give up. I have nothing left with which to fight.”

Three Goldfinches on the little feeder

But, I have this blog. I can write. That’s something. I can take pictures and hopefully do my best to make people feel better. I also try to tell them (to the degree that I have the correct information) what’s going on. I try to make people laugh, though laughs are harder to find than they used to be.

I feel a bit lost. I see what’s happened and can only imagine what will happen next … and so much of the things I’d hope would happen are going to get lost in the hysteria of a collapsed economy, an election … and all those Coronavirus deaths.