“What? You didn’t write about the debate?”

Generally, The Washington Post series on coping with the pandemic has been pretty irrelevant to me. Today’s newsletter confirmed why. It ended with this:

“Maybe I sound a little like a retiree. Well, yeah! Retirees have a lot to teach younger people about future orientation. It’s not so much that older people plan fewer activities, writes Marc Wittmann in his book “Felt Time”; it’s that they plan them for a more immediate future — the same way people survive a crisis like this.”  (Hey sweet cheeks, we were not born retirees, but whatev’)

I guess the retiree “crisis” is the impending ultimate nap. Why do retirees “plan (activities) for a more immediate future…”? In my case it’s because I finally can BUT I always have. I’ve never been a person to plan for the long term. I guess I’ve never believed in the long term. I know people do plan like that, a lot of people, maybe even most.

The newsletter today advises people to set “small, achievable goals” for themselves. But isn’t that always a good idea? It also advises people to notice smaller things — like the plants growing on their daily walks. Isn’t that always a good idea? It also advises planning a “mini-vacation” every week — such as riding your bike in a different part of town so they have something to look forward to.

The thread in all of these is fighting the idea that there is no future, nothing to look forward to, black emptiness.

I get that, but I don’t believe that or, having grown up near Air Force bases during the Cold War inoculated me with that world view, I take it for granted, sort of “Yeah? So what else is new?”

I thought about the Cold War as I read this passage in the WP newsletter:

“But the pandemic is this ongoing monster,” said Alice Holman of the University of California at Irvine. In casual speech, “quarantine” no longer has much to do with local orders, or even literally staying inside. It’s a state of mind, an eternal present. “Quarantine” is a vacuum for plans deferred until “this is all over” — not that anyone can define this, all or over.

“We have this chronic underlying stressor that’s holding us hostage,” Holman said.

Plenty of people back then believed that was only a matter of time before WW III. A lot of those people had already lived through two world wars and didn’t see much prospect of that kind of human behavior stopping any time soon. Many people were authentically frightened and, as everyone knows, we had bomb drills at school and watched films that simulated what would have happened if the bomb dropped on Hiroshima had been dropped on some place in England (ie. white people). WW II hovered over the lives of Baby Boomers and the Cold War surrounded us with its impending apocalyptic doom. Scary books like On the Beach made that future very real and moreso when made into films.

The bomb itself was one thing. The worst part was the residual nuclear fallout, so people built shelters to protect themselves from the bomb itself in which they could stay long enough for the fallout to be gone. (Hello Chernobyl). My family lived 2 miles from the second most important target for Soviet bombs so we had a pretty cavalier perspective on the whole thing.

But it was there. A big difference between The Bomb and the pandemic is that the Cold War could be satirized (and was) and this disease cannot.

Meanwhile, those of you who have visited Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Granby and Grand Lake, be grateful you saw it in its splendor because it is now on fire. I guess we Coloradans haven’t swept or raked our forests sufficiently, either.


Quotidian Tedium, Verse 7

I had to elevate myself from a reclining position earlier this morning because Mindy T. Dog has to go to the vet for an exam.

The fires all over the west have colored our sunrise and sunset. I’m sorry about the terrible floods in Texas and Louisiana, but Montana has been burning for months now. People have lost everything — never mind what WE have lost in natural beauty, or what the ANIMALS have lost (like their lives and homes). It was only at the end of July that the Feds decided to give Montana FEMA aid. “Nobody lives there,” right? Maybe, even, “Where IS Montana?”

Had a burst of rock painting fervor over the weekend. I’d started a rock that was gong to be a fox, and I also primed three or four other rocks for something. Then my neighbor’s triplet grandchildren (3 years old? 4?) showed up so I gave them painted rocks to go hide.

I experienced a wonderful vindication for representational art.


I held them out. One little girl said, “I want the red one! I like red!”

Her grandma goes, “What is it?”

The little girl said, “It’s a STRAWBERRY!” The little girl LOVED it.

The second little girl said, “Oh! It’s a smiley face! I love it!”

And the little boy took the blue one. Grandma said, “What is it?”

“It’s a blue sky, with clouds and birds flying in it!” And he hugged it.

It happened that the strawberry girl wore a pink shirt; the smiley face girl wore a yellow shirt, and the little boy had a blue shirt. Off they went to the park to hide the rocks. So far, to my knowledge, only the yellow and blue one have been found.

After the park, they went to the local extended care facility and they FOUND a rock.

In other news, when I moved in there was an avocado green electric stove and a recliner from the same era (broken) in my garage. They hadn’t been there when I looked at the house. I guess someone thought, “Great, she bought it. Put ’em back.” Earlier this summer, one of my neighbors, who was having a metal recycling company here in town (new!) take stuff from her garage, sent them over to my house to take the stove. I was so happy. That left the chair. I arranged last week with the trash company to haul the chair away. I just had to get it 1/3 of a block down the alley and out to the curb.

Using the clever engineering techniques perfected by the Egyptians in building the Pyramids, I got the HUGE chair, covered in the rare Hyde of Nauga, with the heavy metal mechanics underneath, on to my Worx Wheelbarrow (now converted to a wagon). I tied the chair to the front of the wagon so it wouldn’t slide off the back and using the ancient Egyptian transportation techniques, known as slowly and steadily pulling the wagon, I got it to the curb.

Sometime this week, I’ll be able to put my bicycle in the garage so it’ll be a lot easier to get to when I want to go for a ride.

In national news, it’s nice to have the Cold War back. I’ve had a lot of trouble adjusting to the idea that it was over, I mean it’s not like the nukes were GONE right? Only that people had decided to avoid using them? This morning I read that Old 45 is going to “allow” Japan and S. Korea to buy more sophisticated warheads from us.

Well, it’s money, right?

Makes me feel like bringing out the old songs from the sixties, those great chart toppers that warmed our hearts with a cozy nuclear frisson. And young people have never heard them! Doubtless they’ll be writing their own, but in the meantime this was my dad’s and my favorite. 🙂