Macaw Thaw

Blue and Yellow Macaw

Yesterday, we were walking in Tower Grove Park. It was a beautiful day, the best so far this year. Warm and sunny at 65 ºF. Anne was doing her usual bird count, but was not having much luck with it, when we met this macaw. A guy was walking his bird. What’s more he was walking it barefoot. It was warm, but not that warm. He said that he has had the bird for twelve years, but they can live to eighty. The guy looked older than us. He said that the bird was in his will. Later, we walked by the park’s fountain that was still covered in ice. We may be enjoying a February thaw, but we still have some winter yet to go.

Frozen Fountain

Winter Walking

Winter Walking

You know the nearer your destination, the more you’re slip-sliding away…

Especially at this time of year. Except for a couple of days at the nadir of this polar deep freeze of a cold snap we have gotten out to walk every day. The first day out was a real slog. We really were slip-sliding away, what with snow and ice still all over the place, but gradually, day-by-day, it has gotten better. Yesterday’s walk was mostly on dry pavement. The temps have been getting warmer too. We might even get above freezing for the first time in I can’t remember and the long range forecast looks even warmer. If you’re living day by day, long range is tomorrow. I wouldn’t dare to presume that we’re finding a way out of these winter woods yet. After all, it is still only February, but maybe, just maybe the intensity of winter’s weather will slacken a little bit. 

I had no idea Toyota’s “RAV4” was short for “Ravioli 4”

We really still love our year-old RAV4, even though we have hardly used it in the past year, but it does have a wee bit of a problem. I first noticed it last summer, whenever I gassed it, while up in Michigan. At the time, I dismissed it as a peculiarity of that state’s gas pumps, but then we received a notice from Toyota. They were explicit about not calling it a recall notice, but it sure sound like one or at least a heads up for one. What I noticed and what their notice described is that when filling up the tank, the tank does not get completely full. It only ever fills to 7/8 full. You can see it on the gas gauge and the car’s range is about fifty miles less than it was before. This only happens in the hybrid model, the kind that we have. It’s not a big problem and I was ready to live with their apparent wait-and-see attitude, but other owners weren’t and Toyota has now announced a warranty repair. I’ll have to get that done.

Apparently, Ted Cruz really does understand the idea that sometimes people need to cross the border, in order to escape inhospitable living conditions.

It’s Cold Out

It’s Cold Out

I’m feeling a wee bit isolated. We are here home alone. We’re both quarantined and snowbound, but at least we still have power, not like in Texas. The house is reasonably warm inside, at least sitting by the space heater or lying on the couch, under a blanket. Just don’t go down to the basement, where it is very cold. I’ve taken to running the faucet on the basement’s sink, in order to keep the pipes from freezing down there. In a fit of self-pity, I started pawing thrown old photos from our last trip to Florida. I did manage find some good ones that I will be doling out the rest of this week. They reminded me of warmer and happier times.

It snowed a little last night, such that when I went outside to get the paper this morning, I noticed that on the sidewalk, there no footprints in the snow, which is pretty unusual. It’s snowing again now and is supposed to snow all day long and again tomorrow. So, I can’t even convince myself to go outside and shovel the walk. We’re not expecting much more than six inches, but that will be more than enough to cover the grass. My lawn looks as good as my fancy neighbor’s does. 

eat n’ time

eat n’ time, Richard Estes, 1969

We might get a dose of some that white cloud-poop later today, but that’s OK, because afterwards our lawn will look just as good as the neighbor’s. The one who spends all his money on a fancy lawn service. It was single digits this morning and I had gotten a warning email about frozen pipes from the water company. So, this morning I ran the water for a minute in the basement sink. I figure if we ever did get a frozen pipe is would be one of those. If you hadn’t noticed until now, it is officially winter and I want to put you all on notice that I am officially done with it. Or so I wish, but I’m afraid that it’s not done with me.

Tomorrow will mark one-week on weight watchers. It has been an adjustment, but there are already detectable signs of success. In hindsight, it would have been better not to have a fridge full of high calorie food to begin with, but we’ll work our way through it, bit by bit. The system is a little strange and will take a little while to get used to. Some foods are way more expensive than I expected, while others are totally free. Right now, Anne and I are different plans, which also adds to the confusion, but she plans on switching over to my plans, which will help. In addition to our daily allotments, we are also given a kind of weekly slush fund of points. This helps, when you inadvertently go over a day’s budget. It should also come in handy for tomorrow’s Super bowl party for two.

Thursday, when we heard the bad news about Betsy’s passing that kind of drowned out the good news of the day, my dad got his first vaccination and already has an appointment for the second one. So, I’ve cancelled my subscription to the app that I used to game Monterey’s vaccination website. Needless to say, there is no joy here in Mudville. Around here all vaccine announcements are only couched in the future tense. Or if they’re not even promising a vaccine, then they are only offering information on one. 

Vaccination Victories

Get Protected. Get your Vaccine today!

We got a doubleheader of great news on Monday. Harry, received his first Covid vaccine early Monday morning. Jane texted us the good news. Kudos to Jane for making it happen! Harry is now also scheduled to get his second dose in a few weeks. The other good news item was that I was able to schedule my dad’s first vaccination appointment for Thursday. In Monterey, the county has a website, but for a week it was like an impenetrable wall. All appointment opportunities listed were full and there wasn’t anyway to even leave my dad’s name for any in the future. I turned to the state and was able to get him signed up on their site. I also enlisted an app that like a good little bot pinged Monterey’s site every few minutes. I got more than a few false alarms, as the site’s director make a number of housekeeping updates, but Monday morning the dam broke. A week’s worth of new spots opened up. I was able to snag the earliest time at the closest place for him. I felt a little guilty about employing this bot technology, something that many of his competing septuagenarians or older did not have, but I also feared that I was also competing with the best and brightest from Silicon Valley. In the end, neither fear was justified, because checking again, eight hours later there were still plenty of appointments. In the end, I was just following behind Jane.

Meanwhile, back here at the ranch, the news is not so good. Missouri is still dead last, this time tied with Idaho. The local news has begun to take notice of this situation, hopefully riling the public. Maybe Josh Hawley could spare a few minutes from his busy insurrectionists schedule and attend to the needs of his constitutes? I expect that is too much to ask of him, because he could care less. 

Brooklyn – Monday Noon – Can you find the Prius?

Can you find the Prius? Back east, the boys are hunkering down in a snowstorm. NYC is expecting the brunt of the storm, with a couple of feet, but Boston is also expecting its second big storm of the season. I’m sure Puck will be pleased. 

Always on a Wednesday

Écriture, N.Y., Jesus Rafael Soto, 1984

So far this year, we’ve started off with an insurrection, followed by an impeachment and then there was the inauguration. Those were the first three Wednesdays. This week’s Wednesday, yesterday, we had GameStop. What?!? You know the video game retailer, who hasn’t been doing too well as of late. The sharks of Wall Street, hedge fund managers, had planned on profiting from its down luck, but something happened on their way to the bank. Seeing GameStop down, these hedges decided to push it lower, by shorting its stock, wagering that its stock price would go even lower, but things didn’t work out for them as planned. Individual investors are often derided as “dumb money,” destined to lose their lot against the professionals who trade stocks for a living. But recently, many of these individual investors, followers of a popular Reddit page called Wall Street Bets, have upended the pros. Banding together these small investors put the squeeze on two hedge funds that had bet that GameStop’s shares would fall. These fund’s shorts, became a short squeeze and they were left in a pinch when their markers were called. I’ll leave you with comedian Avalon Penrose, who can explain it much better than I.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Anne and I are still waiting for our vaccines. We wait here in Missouri, which is fiftieth out of fifty, of states in vaccinations per capita, dead last. But heck, we have Josh Hawley, our own little Ted Cruz. What more could you want? Well, I want a shot, better make it a double, two rounds for the house. Alice and Chris have both had their shots. Alice is a doctor and Chris participated in a vaccine trial. He only had a 60% chance of getting the real deal, but has since learned that he lucked out. He even gets paid to get his shots. My brother Frank has gotten his first shot, but he has political pull. Anne’s father is scheduled to get his first shot on Monday. I’m trying to get a shot for my father. Where he lives, the county has a webpage, where one can sign up for an appointment, but they don’t have any spots left and there isn’t any way to even leave a name. To help him, I’ve hired a bot who will every five minutes look for any new appointments, if and when they become available. Anne and I are signed up through both our county and our doctors. They have taken our names, but we haven’t heard squat from them, but then we live in the state that is dead last in immunizations.

It snowed yesterday, only a couple of inches, but our first measurable snowfall of the season. Overnight, it turned quite cold, down into the teens. So, any snowmelt that we might have had turned to ice. Going out for the paper this morning, I slipped twice and fell once. Fortunately, I had my hand on the handrail, when I went down and landed without harm. A neighbor called out a warning to another neighbor, but that warning was already too late for me. So, how many more weeks of winter are there until spring?