I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Strange summer of 2020

Poppies and purple flowers
Yes, the flowers are beautiful, as they always are, but this is turning out to be the strangest summer season since I moved to the Pacific Northwest. It's beginning to seem like I might not actually make it to the High Country this year because of the pandemic, along with plenty of snow still in the mountains. Our inability to carpool to drive for an hour together means that those of us with old cars that don't like rutted mountain access roads are unable to get there.

My gym is still closed, and it looks like it will remain so for the foreseeable future, since we are having a spike in coronavirus cases, along with much of the rest of the country. Washington State now requires us to wear a mask or face covering of some kind whenever we leave our homes, unless we are able to maintain physical distance from others. It's beginning to feel like this situation will only get worse before it gets better.

I really didn't want to write about what's going on in our country, because I think most of us already know, and discussing the dire situation isn't helping anybody. But it's all that is on my mind these days. I watch the news with trepidation, learning how politicized the entire virus response has become, and I fear for our future. Between those who believe it's traitorous to wear a mask and those who consider them essential, the huge gap is only growing wider. And the virus doesn't care at all; it just continues to spread. I am more than a little terrified.

It looks like the European Union will block Americans from traveling to their countries once they open up to international travel next week. Who would have thought that we would be in such a situation? Not that it seems like a very good idea these days to get on an airplane for long flights, or congregate in airports among strangers. The Center for Disease Control has given us the following guideline:
Avoid the three C's which are: closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places with many people nearby and close-contact settings, such as close-range conversations.   
I have eaten inside two restaurants since we opened up to Phase 2, but I am beginning to think that I should avoid doing so in the future. Both times I was with a friend, and the restaurants were sparsely occupied, with plenty of space between tables and well ventilated. But still, I am thinking that it's becoming important to stay away from places where I cannot better control my interactions with others.

Are you hopeful that things will get better? I am sure trying to find that place within me that believes that there are silver linings in these clouds. And we've been down before and come back stronger.
There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’ No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster. —14th Dalai Lama
I think perhaps it's time to change the subject, since I'm only making myself feel worse, not better. And that's not what I want to happen with this post, or any other for that matter. Last week I wrote about my father, and there were a few things my sister pointed out to me that she found to be curious. She never thought of Daddy as being much of a reader (I called him "an avid reader"), but that's what I remember: he taught me to appreciate science fiction, and the two of us shared books that we found interesting. He introduced me to Isaac Asimov, and I eventually read almost all the fiction he wrote. Asimov was also a prolific nonfiction writer, and I read some of that work, too. Daddy did, also. He also subscribed to Time Magazine and read it from cover to cover each week, often cursing loudly over segments he disagreed with. He often threatened to cancel his subscription, but I don't think he ever did.

Norma Jean also clarified for me that Daddy was an engineer on the B-36 bomber. It was something that I don't think I ever knew. For one thing, I didn't know that airplanes ever had engineers, so I read up about the B-36. What an airplane! It was truly an amazing feat of technology.
Early models "only" had six enormous 71-liter, 28-cylinder radial engines in a rare pusher-prop configuration. These were soon augmented by four jet engines, for a total of 44,000 horsepower, creating one of the only aircraft ever powered by both.
Well, that explains it. It was a prop plane with jet engines, too.  This article is fascinating: Six Turning, Four Burning. I guess in those days it was essential to have a crew that included engineers. Each 15-man crew had someone like my dad aboard. I also learned that the B-36 is the only bomber that never dropped a live bomb on a target. Anyway, I've learned quite a lot from having known so little about what my father did in his early career. Norma Jean said it was because I was only interested in boys in those days and had little interest in the rest of the world around me. She is probably right. Thank goodness that the internet gave me a chance to find out what I missed.

Hey, that worked! Having changed my focus from the present moment, I've managed to make myself feel much better. I hope that you will take the time to peruse that article about the B-36. I found it to be fascinating. Now I wish I still had my father around to ask him questions about his storied career on that plane. I'm only a half century late.

Now it's time for me to answer the call of my rumbling stomach. I realize that I'm actually a little hungry this morning. Usually I have to wait a while longer before that happens. My dear partner still sleeps next to me, and my tea is long gone. I will probably just make myself some coffee at home today, since the coffee shop holds little interest when I don't get to visit with my friends.

I do hope that you will stay safe this week, and that you will not forget to count your blessings and to give thanks for friends and family. I am so grateful for you, my dear readers, and I wish you all good things until we meet again next week.


Rian said...

DJan, DH and I don't leave the house except to pick up curb side groceries... and occasionally to walk around the neighborhood (always masked). We don't go to restaurants or even do pickup orders, don't see family members or friends... except by Skype or Zoom. It's not easy, but do-able and necessary to try to curb this thing.
DIL works in infectious diseases in our local hospital. She tells us how full the hospitals and ICU's are... and that we MUST be very cautious. We worry for her, our son, and young grand daughter. But it is what it is and we will handle it as best we can.
When Texas 'opened' up, most people knew it was too soon. And looked what happened - our cases have skyrocketed. Now they're thinking of cutting back. Too little too late.
Sorry if this is depressing, but how could all this sickness and death not be...

Linda Reeder said...

Your impatience over the restrictions caused by COVID have been obvious, and I felt you pushing at the boundaries to get out and get free. I understand your impatience but I was also concerned that you might not be aware of the danger still lurking. This is going to be a long process, we are blessed with stable living situations, and our job is to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.
I hope that's what I will be doing as I venture into the hospital setting for appointments and surgery and recovery. At least this summer I won't be missing much by being restricted during recovery.
Yes the year 2020 is and will be a weird one, a worrisome one, and for many a life altering one. We need to stay smart, stay safe, and count our blessings. At least we can meet up through technology.
Peace be with you.

gigi-hawaii said...

I know what you mean about restaurants. We have been to one restaurant so far and have no intention of doing this again. Not until there are zero cases for 30 days. When that happens, the pandemic might be over.

Marie Smith said...

Recently I’ve been thinking about happiness. I realized I’m a happy person since I focus on the experience of the here and now and enjoying every minute. The moment I’m in is all I have any control of and I enjoy that moment, the place, the people, the conversation etc. It keeps me focussed on the positive amid the noise of the world out there. It has changed how I see the world and I am grateful.

Elephant's Child said...

Like Marie I find much of my happiness in the moment. Being a beauty addict helps. As does stepping away from much of the news.
If I cannot change things it does me no good to watch/listen.
I hope you can maintain your distractions and that your breakfast is tasty.
Stay well and stay safe dear friend.

Gigi said...

As soon as went to Phase 2 here in North Carolina - I felt it was way too soon - I began to be even more cautious than I was at the beginning of the pandemic because I had a feeling people would forget about the precautions they were supposed to be taking. And that certainly seems to have been the case.

Stay safe and well. Have a wonderful week.

MaryAnn said...

I have only done takeout at a couple of restaurants because I just don’t think it is safe to be in a closed space with people who are talking and eating for a significant amount of time. This shut down has brought on periods of black clouds and I find it hard to shake them off sometimes. Partly because the approach to dealing with the virus is so disjointed, there is no way to see what the next month is going to be. But like you I try to find something to look at, or read or remember that will bring on a feeling of happy. Your Sunday blog always inspires me to face something in my life, enjoy what I have or remember. I have a favorite sister who I cannot see either but we talk very frequently on the phone.

Arkansas Patti said...

Interesting how your change of direction adjusted my attitude also. I am doing all I can to stop this pandemic and am just sorry that it does appear to be back in full force.
I am just grateful that the dust cloud from Africa isn't a regular thing. It has kept me inside for 3 days with my bad lungs. And we thought isolation was a pain. Not going outside was brutal. I feel your pain.
However as you talked about your sister and Dad, I felt an ease. Talking to family is such a balm these days. My brother and sisters are mine, so glad you have yours.

Galen Pearl said...

Instead of a brave new world, we are living in a cautious new world. Like you, I have ventured out a little more, but it's not the same, is it? I'm always conscious of my surroundings in a way I wasn't before. It's not so relaxing. But as you said, and did, we can turn our attention to other things to enjoy. Have a great week.

The Furry Gnome said...

I'm increasingly afraid for America too, though I do have hope. Here in Ontario we have a lot of serious discussion going on about changing the way long term care is done. I also hope for better pay for currently low paid essential workers, including my own caregivers. Perhaps the world can end up a better place.

Red said...

In the north most of the planes had a pilot and an engineer. the pilot flew the airplane and the engineer looked after it. Our memories are somewhat selective. When I check with my brothers things differ.Selective memory should have more study.

Juvenal Nunes said...

Visitei o seu blog e encontrei, no seu perfil, formas de ocupação dos tempos livres, que se coadunam com os meus.
Abraço solidário.
Juvenal Nunes

Rosie said...

I hope you can keep your focus on the good things in your life, and sometimes it helps to keep the other things out of focus for a while. I try to not watch the news reports especially in the morning as it just seems too much to take in at an early hour. I have been busy with crafts that I have not done much of in the past, and find that cooking and cleaning seem to be taking up more of my time but I am enjoying it more. I am pleased for you that you were able to learn more about your father, it was very interesting. Stay safe and well.

Friko said...

Taking one’s mind of this sad world we’re living in is not easy but absolutely essential for one’s sanity. I spend hours reading and when I’m not reading I’m gardening. And yet, the news follows me whenever I let it in; I try to ignore it but it doesn’t work.
There’s not only the pandemic but politics too that make me cross and unhappy.
I have not been to any restaurant for at least 3 months and there’s no chance that I will go soon. Not because we are not allowed yet but simply because I am afraid of catching the virus.
I am staying as safe as I can.

Anvilcloud said...

I have been contemplating today why wearing a small piece of cloth for community protection has become the hill that some are actually willing to die on.

Rita said...

I have to say I have worried about you being out and about quite a bit. I have always thought this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better because of how it has been handled here...or should I say not handled...or chaotically handled. Regardless, I'd stay safer than you may think you need to or than what is allowed.

Funny how everyone's memories are so different...even when you have lived together, gone to the same school, lived through the same major events, attended the same church, or been friends for decades. I find it fascinating! That's why we should pay close attention to each day...each moment...and fully appreciate them...because later on we will be lucky to remember snippets--LOL! ;)

Far Side of Fifty said...

I think we all have our own memories of our parents when we were younger...mine and my brothers are different all because we were children at different times:)
One day at a time, change what you can, accept what you cannot. I really struggled one day last week...as this virus seems to never end. I don't like the new normal...missing my children, grands and great grands...so I keep busy doing what I can do. I certainly cannot change much but weeds and the lawn:)

Tabor said...

I do not think things will get better for at least another year. Honestly. But I do hope they will not get worse. Our leadership has failed us. Not wanting to offend anyone they have endangered us all. I not longer eat indoors, but am thinking maybe in the future eating at an outdoors restaurant??

Linda Myers said...

You know I'm an optimist. I believe we will get through this and the country will brighten. Today in Tucson it will only be 99 degrees - cooler than last week or next week - so I was up early for my first-of-the-day e-bike ride. Most of the rest of the time I'm indoors where it's cooler. I wanted an Arizona summer, though!

I ride with my friend Ellen. So she and I and husband Art are mostly in a covid bubble here. I'm in good company.

Be safe!

David M. Gascoigne, said...

If I think Covid-19 has taught me one thing, eating in a restaurant is highly overrated. So often the food is mediocre, it is noisy and expensive. Better you stay at home and prepare you own meals.

Liz Hinds said...

I didn't discover until after my great-uncle died that he had been an engineer with the Dam Busters. He hated to talk about the war.

Today husband went to the doctor and on Monday I am taking George, our dog, to the vet. that is the limit of us coming out of lockdown!

Have a good week and stay safe.

Rhapsody Phoenix said...

A quick stop by to check in on how you are.

Stay safe, choose happy.
great flowers....