The Male Must Go Thru

Tired, but Pleased – Anne after the Reef Bay Hike

How is everyone doing? Are you bearing up? Have you gone stir crazy yet? I’m doing fine, but then I have Anne to bolster my spirits. If there was only one person who you could be stranded with on a desert island, it would be her. She is a rock, plus she really rocks! This photo of her was taken on the boat ride back to Cruz Bay, after our four hour ranger led hike. We were both a little tired and sunburned, but we were also both very pleased with ourselves.

She has been keeping herself very busy during this duration. Today, we mailed out some more of her DIY face masks. This allotment was being sent to the nurses who cared for her mother in her final days. In order to minimize our exposure at the post office, we went online and printed out the package’s postage label. That way at the post office, all we had to do was drop it off and then dash. First thing though we had to weigh the package. She has this super accurate digital scale that she uses to weigh her yarn with. Unfortunately, its batteries were dead, but fortunately, I found two CR2032 disk batteries in the basement. Normally, I stock them, because our bikes’ computers uses them. Unfortunately, Anne couldn’t get the old batteries out of the scale. Fortunately, I hit upon the idea of using a knife. Unfortunately, I kind of elbowed Anne out of the way to get them out. Can you see where this is going?

Once weighed, Anne had to create a USPS account and then jump through its hoops to get the shipping label printed. I think that this took two tries. I was on the couch by then, but I could hear the stream of four-letter words emanating from the computer room and every time that I offered to help, their intensity only redoubled. Anyway, she got the job done, without my help or maybe even in spite of it. By then though high noon was drawing nigh and we had to beat feet in order to get to the post office in time before it closed.

Stopping to talk with the neighbors, probably didn’t help, but we made it to the post office in plenty of time. At the post office was a new sign that asked that only one patron at a time enter the lobby. So, we waited outside. When it was our turn, Anne dashed inside, dropped her package off on the counter and then dashed right back out again. I waited outside and applied hand sanitizer on her. It started to rain on the way back and our walk was cut short, but at least we got the face masks mailed and I helped!

InstaCart

Little Bites

We received our first delivery order from the delivery service InstaCart and while it wasn’t a complete success, it got the job done. About a third of the items that I ordered, couldn’t be filled exactly as ordered, but were filled with a close substitute product. As the delivery guy was filling our order and encountering the need to substitute products, I received a steady stream of texts informing me of this process. I subsequently updated Anne of this situation She was upstairs in her sew-a-torium and I was yelling up to her from the base of the stairs. The following conversation ensued:

Anne: Does that mean that they are substituting squid for toilet paper?
Me: No, they would only substitute like Atlantic squid for Pacific squid.
Anne: Why did you order squid?
Me: I didn’t. You’re the one who brought up squid.

In addition to the item substitution, there was also the matter of getting 4 bags of peeled carrots, which is excessive, but this was on me. I had fat fingered the drop down box and ordered them all. Finally, there are the pictured Little Bites. I never ordered anything like them or even remotely close to them. Maybe the delivery guy got them for himself and they just got mixed into our order? Or maybe another InstaCart person had pranked ours by sneaking it into his cart?

Shopping aside, even if it is only internet shopping, the high point of our day are our walks together. Spring is in full flower and the birds are doing what they do at this time of year. So long as it’s not raining, we get out, along with a lot of other people too. On a nice day, maintaining a social distance can require some gymnastics, but with sidewalks on both sides of the street and even the street in-between, there is enough room. These casual encounters allow a modicum of social interaction, in these isolationist times. Yesterday, we augmented the social aspect of our walks, when we swung by Joanie’s place and nudged her out of the house, for a while. Later, our next-door neighbor called upon us. He was being nice and checking on the old people. We enjoyed our socially safe conversation together. It helps to get out of the house and talk to other people. 

Who Was That Masked Man

Jason Mask

Yesterday was a day, but we got through it. Thank you, for all of the messages of condolence. They really helped. Life goes on and we shall carry on too.

Speaking of carrying on, they’re back. The water company that is. After being off for more than a week, the water company resumed their work. Last week they were off because of the rain and this week they were off because of the plague, but today they returned with a bang and then another bang and another. Did I mention that this all started before seven? A modern descendent of the classic Mike Mulligan style steam shovel was pile driving the pavement, right outside our house. There wasn’t just the noise, but the whole house was shaking, as each pile drive broke up the street in front of the house.

After being off so long, the construction workers attacked their work with more than their accustomed vigor. I eventually ventured outside. Today is garbage day and with yesterday’s rain, I hadn’t yet put any of our carts out to the curb. I had to time my placement of the carts with the swinging bucket of the steam shovel. It was busy dumping asphalt into a dump truck that was waiting on our side of the street. With each swing of the shovel’s bucket, chunks of asphalt went flying everywhere. In the end, I only put out one cart. The others didn’t seem worth it.

Anne has temporarily suspended her regular knitting and quilting projects to begin making face masks. A call has gone out to anyone who has a sewing machine and knows how to use it. She has plenty of decorative material, has found patterns online and has begun sewing her heart out. Before this epidemic really got going here in America, I bought a package of twenty commercial face masks. We will be looking at layering these with Anne’s home made ones. Anne also got the idea of checking out the basement. Over the years, with plenty of past painting projects, there are way too many nearly empty old paint cans down there, but we also found a few other face masks. Unused and in their original packaging they still look pretty good, even if they are of unknown age. Among this lot were a few of that holy grail of face masks, the N95 kind. We will triage them and then be distributing most of them in the days to come.

We also found this Jason style Halloween mask that somehow got mixed in with the regular kind. Dave got this mask and last wore it when he was still young enough to go trick-or-treating. That ought to give you an idea of how old the other masks are. We went out with a friend, who was dressed in a business suit, with tie and brief case. He was going as Dave’s lawyer. Dave wore the hockey mask, a Blues jersey and a pair of roller blades, which we wore as he scrambled up-and-down all of the front steps in this neighborhood. With his lawyer in tow, Dave was going as the lawsuit yet to happen. They made for a truly scary pair.

Peasant Girl with a Straw Hat

Peasant Girl with a Straw Hat, Camille Pissarro, 1881

Camille Pissarro frequently engaged with Millet-like peasant subjects, as seen in this portrait of a young girl. She calls to mind Millet’s own images of resting shepherdesses. Influenced by Millet, Pissarro was born on the island of St. Thomas, now a part of the American Virgin Islands. Once grown, he left the island and eventually moved to France. There as an artist, he grew to prominence and became a leader of the Impressionist movement. On St. Thomas, he is still considered an honored native son.

It is a very rainy first day of spring today. No workmen on the street, because of that. The radar map shows a mass of green and yellow Oobleck passing over us, with flood warning boxes following in its wake. A walk in the late afternoon might be possible, but I’m just hoping that the rain lets up enough for me to go out and get the paper, which is probably just soggy pulp by now. We walked yesterday, but it took two attempts. On the first try, we only got a couple blocks, when the rain started again. I had thought that it has finished. Later, we did get our walk in together. There were not that many people out-and-about.

Yesterday, Anne went to gyro, or rather gyro came to us. They’ve closed the studio, but now offer virtual classes via the tele-conferencing app Zoom. I sat out this week’s session, but plan on participating next week, with Anne in our living room. As we adjust to the new normal, adaptation like this is necessary. In this regard, Anne is better situated than I am. She has her many crafts to occupy herself with. One of her yarn stores even offered a virtual knitting circle using Zoom. Currently, she is into quilting and after finishing a baby quilt, has started a new type of quilt. She has ordered most of her supplies for this project online for later delivery, but there were some items that she needed right away. We broke our quarantine and drove to the fabric store, where she was treated to curbside delivery. I brought the hand sanitizer. 

As we all hunker down, quarantining ourselves from one another (I hope), We are always on the lookout for new diversions. A big one will drop tomorrow on Amazon Prime. The movie that Dan worked on, will be available for streaming. Blow the Man Down is set in Maine, where it was filmed two years ago. Here is its trailer and a recent New York Times review. In the trailer, if you look closely there is a brief shot of a plywood lobsterman sign that Dan made. If you watch the movie, be sure to watch the credits too and see Dan’s name written there.

Spanish Flu / Pangolin Revenge

Chinese Headband with Bat Design – Made with Kingfisher Feathers, 19th Century

We walked this afternoon. It was almost fifty and I was surprised at how many people were out walking around too. Kids were out playing together. Dog walkers were everywhere. In our neighborhood, there are sidewalks on both sides and along Wydown, the main drag, there are also additional lanes. When another walker approached, we simply switched sides. Ours and others dancing in the streets was all unspoken, but I think that our actions and that of some of the other pedestrians, were obvious to all. We were able to maintain our safe social distance, but still I was concerned. With warmer weather and nothing else to do people will migrate outside in greater numbers than usual. If the epidemic progresses as it has in Italy, the authorities might even prohibit this modest release from cabin fever.

Cycle Zydeco, our planned April bicycle trip to Louisiana, has announced that it is offering vouchers for next year or refunds. It hasn’t cancelled yet, but… Our 2020 vacation schedule is quickly collapsing.

The outdoor floor show that is the water company’s replacement of the water main continues to amuse. They’ve paved over the portion of the street, where plastic pipe was laid, with concrete. Our street has always had asphalt paving. Maybe the concrete is there to protect the new pipes? What do you say, Jay?

I had a little bird, its name was Enza.
I opened up the window and in flew Enza.
— 1918 children’s rhyme

I made the mistake tonight of watching the episode of the PBS series American Experience on the 1918 flu epidemic, the so-called Spanish flu. It is freely available to watch, just Google it. It was the last year of World War I, when the epidemic began at an army base in Kansas. One day, first one soldier became ill, then soon hundreds of them did and they started dying even soon after. Unlike our current epidemic, where the elderly are the most susceptible, this flu was most deadly to young adults. This was a time, when we didn’t even know there was such a thing as a virus. This show was produced on the centennial of the epidemic, so the few people who were still alive, were only small children back then and only had a child’s memory of the events. The hopelessness that the people felt back then was horrible, but the disease burned its self out after a year or so and was soon forgotten afterwards, until this next time.

The 1918 pandemic was most commonly known as the Spanish flu. Not that this flu originated there, it didn’t, but in 1918 all of the other first world countries were at war and also under strict wartime censorship. Neither side reported their epidemics, leaving only neutral Spain to shoulder the burden and the blame. It is believed that the Corona virus originated in a so-called wet market in the city of Wuhan, China. The virus is thought to have originated with a bat, but in order to facilitate its transmission to humans, an intermediary animal is hypothesized. The most likely candidate for this intermediary is also the most trafficked animal on the planet, the Pangolin.

Breaking Quarentine

We are adjusting to the new normal. i.e. keeping to ourselves. We did leave the house today and drive up to the Riverlands for some bird watching. Pictured are the two most notable sightings. We did converse with a few other birders, but at a safe social distance. While the Riverlands were relatively quiet, it being a cold and somewhat dreary Sunday, the other drivers, both to and fro, were crazy. It was good to get out though, if only for a little bit.

Every time we visit the Riverlands, it is interesting to see what the rivers are doing. This time, it looked like the Mississippi was down considerably, but I noticed that the road to Ted Jones State Park was closed for flooding. I can only assume that the Missouri is in flood. Ted Jones is at the Confluence of these two major rivers and if one is not flooding, then the other one must be. Checking the USGS hydrological data, indicated that the Missouri is in flood and was earlier this week high enough to be “actionable”, whatever that means.

Escapes to the great outdoors are relatively risk free from the epidemic and do so much to restore sanity. Trips like today’s may eventually become prohibited, but I hope not. That would be most unfortunate.