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The Number One

March 31, 2020

I spoke of things being scary… this stuff is scary I probably said a million times.

I spoke of that. Now I am feeling it.

I have been a smart consumer. I reference good sources, I read the commentary and analysis of smart people.

I’m smart. At least smart enough to understand some basics and keep a level head.

I’ve taken this seriously from the beginning. I’ve done what they said to do, because I’m a believer in facts, and science.

If I’ve been cavalier, it’s about feeling like I — and Jim and Peter — am/are squarely in the 80% who will self-resolve. Eighty percent is a good number. And I’ve had no doubt whatsoever, that if we get it, we will fight it off.

We are not high risk, we are fit and healthy, no underlying conditions, as they say.  Of course we could get it, but we won’t die from it. Of that I have been confident.

And perhaps that’s cavalier.

If I’ve been cavalier, it’s when I said, “I’d like to get it so I can develop the antibodies to fight it, so I can go out and know I am not a risk to others, so I can go out and know, at last, that I cannot get it now.”

If I’ve been cavalier, it’s when I thought that I should volunteer myself for one of those studies where they are analyzing the people whose immune systems are so strong that when they are exposed, they formed antibodies and, not just any antibodies, but super duper antibodies that are worthy of harvesting, and study for possible use in fighting this thing. I think a lot of my immune system.

That’s pretty cavalier.

But that’s how positive and confident I’ve felt about the course of this.

I’ve listened to the experts and believed the numbers.

Even if the president* didn’t… but that’s another post.

Everyone talks about numbers. How many will get infected, how many will die, how many died today? How many died in New York, Italy? In China (if they know)? How many ventilators and masks and other PPE do we need? How many months will this go on? How long must we self-isolate?

Things seem different today. The air is more foreboding.

Most of the time, I don’t listen to the president’s* briefings, I don’t have the stomach. I just get tired of screaming at the TV or radio or my laptop.  I do my best to limit myself to reliable sources.

I hear, however, that he was different today. He appeared scared. He seems to have finally taken in what has been going on around him for months. Apparently, now he believes his experts. Sorry I missed seeing that in today’s briefing.

This jacks up the anxiety.

So, I don’t listen to the White House, but I do listen, when I can, to Chris Cuomo. I like him, and trust him. I’m listening to him now, as I compose this post. Chris tested positive for the coronavirus today. His brother Andrew, the Governor of NY, commented on that this morning.

Looking at him, listening to him made the disease less abstract. And while I have every confidence he self-resolves, it’s alarming. I suppose it’s alarming because our senses are so heightened, the news stories so dire about those who get it and don’t self-resolve. Those numbers are frightening. Not because they exist as high percentages, but because the numbers are climbing exponentially, and the deaths are so horrific.

To borrow a concept from Chris’s commentary tonight: the only number that matters is the number “1.” While all the other numbers are horrific and scary and surreal, the only number we should focus on is “1”  — us, ourselves, each of us. And what we can do about all this. Focus on that.

We can take responsibility for ourselves and comply with the guidelines. If everybody just effin does that, we minimize the spread. Period. If we don’t, all the other numbers just go up. If we take that responsibility and stay at home, only 100,000 to 240,000 people die. If we don’t, millions die.

And this is why I feel so sickened and anxious tonight.  We’ve known it. We’ve respected the guidelines. But the president’s* task force today put real numbers on this horror of a  pandemic we’re all living through. The president, who’s been in denial all along, apparently believes it now. Chris Cuomo broadcast his show from his basement and looked like shit. The numbers are going up like rockets at the moment and there is no real end in sight.

So, yeah. Focusing on what I can do. Planning to self isolate the hell out of this thing.

 

 

Will We Marry Us?

March 30, 2020

Twenty four years ago, sitting on the wall in Central Park, people watching at Farmer’s Market (which we still do to this day, though now on a bench with a back), Jim and I decided we should get married. There was no “Will you marry me.” It was more like, “Do you think we should get married?” “Yeah!”

I always remember the exact day we came to this decision (which, really, we sort of always expected we would do once that ball got rolling) because it was also my dad’s birthday. Easy!

We rarely mark this particular occasion, I don’t know why. I think it’s one of those notable moments in life, perhaps even more notable than the actual day we got married, since it was truly the day we committed to spend the rest of our lives together. Our wedding day was the day we memorialized it with family, friends and signatures on a marriage contract.. and celebration! But the momentous, life-shaping decision was on March 30, 1996.

Maybe we’ll make a bigger deal out of the day from now on! Anyway.. just a few of my favorite pics of the happy, comfy couple:

 

Yosemite, Tuolumne Meadows, Murphy Creek, July 2005..

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Dana Fork, Tuolumne River, Yosemite, August 2014..

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I think this is on 395, after leaving Yosemite one year, July 2008 ..

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St. Andrews, Scotland, May 2019..

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Atop Mt. Hoffman, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite, June 2006

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Tuscany, Italy, May 2006

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Donner Summit.. February 2006

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A party at Peter’s day care, August 2001..

 

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Wedding day, September 21, 1996..

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Like I Needed Cookies

March 29, 2020

This is the problem with immersing oneself in the world of food-cooking-baking-organizing thereof…..   for example: the NYT food section (I subscribed about 6-10 months ago and am drowning in piles of recipes I’ve printed out and can’t wait to try); Youtube cooking videos (I actually watched a ton of Julia Childs videos this morning of her preparing vegetables… so, so entertaining); my decades-long recipe project (which is now spread out on our huge project table in the pantry/laundry room, with piles arranged by food type, binders full of already-tabbed and sheet-protected recipes, file folders full of recipe dreams of yesteryear, file folders of seasonal menus and recipes, baskets full of clipped recipes … you get the idea)….

And…

… the problem with being immersed in all that is that is you find irresistible recipes for cookies, which, combined with long days and short to-do lists…. leads to baking a buncha cookies you might not need.  Like these:

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Which are fantastic, both as raw dough and as finished products. Dense, chewy, with hard, crystalized edges… like perfect brownies.. but cookies, instead.

Tried to get a good closeup:

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Here’s the recipe:

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My one problem… thought I had unsweetened cocoa, but I had thrown all the containers out that I’d had when I moved stuff into the new pantry (they were old). So had to go with sweetened chocolate milk powder. The cookies are fantastic, but definitely sweet.

(And I feel a little sick.) (Feel like an ice water diet is in order.)

 

Phone Banking

March 28, 2020

phone banking

I thought maybe I’d get through the entire 2020 election season without doing any phone banking.. preferring face-to-face voter registration, canvassing, postcarding… and just about anything to the awkwardness of phone banking. Mostly, I so loathe getting phone calls from strangers that I just couldn’t stand the thought of being that person on the other end of the call annoying the hell out of somebody.

Truth is, phone banking has proven to be effective. Not as effective as face-to-face advocacy, but it meets its objectives a fairly significant percent of the time (as significant as this stuff gets, and we have to remember that elections are won by the smallest of margins, so these efforts are important — provenly so).

Still. I’ve avoided phone banking with the exception of election day get-out-the-vote phone banking, which is very fun. (We’ve done it at the crack of dawn with cappuccinos and scones as a huge group filling the rooms of the Wilkerson house a few times now.)

But since there is so little to do during days of self-distancing and shut-down businesses (including our newly opened volunteer center), At-Home-Political-Action is now a thing, and phone banking is at the top of the most effective things to do list.

A group of 15 of us gathered at 10:00 this morning for a training and then spent a couple of hours making calls to democrats in CA-10, Josh Harder’s district. This was extremely easy and satisfying because we were only checking in with folks to see how they were doing, inquiring as to their health and safety, and asking if Rep Harder could provide any assistance. Of my 22 calls:

-6 were bad numbers

10 accepted messages on their answering machines

-2 had full mail boxes

-4 were live people, all of whom were enormously grateful for the call

Josh Harder is a newly elected democrat, up again in 2020 in a very red district. His win last time was of the slimmest of margins. He is considered vulnerable and his win an essential part of retaining the house. I’ve been part of a voter reg group that’s gone down to Modesto and Manteca several times to register voters on college campuses and expect to canvass there, as well, when guidelines are lifted.

But for now…  it’s phone banking.

 

Day #14

March 27, 2020

Coronavirus sequester Day #14.

It was a quintessential CV isolation day…. novel activities for a novel virus pandemic.

There was, of course, the standard social distancing…

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I took this picture when on a walk with LL. She was in Sacramento, I was in Davis and we talked throughout the entire walk. Honestly.. it was great. Would love to see her, but this was, in some ways better (under the circumstances). We could have all the benefits of a beautiful walk (see pics below), while maintaining a safe distance. Each of us is hard of hearing, so walking at 6′ apart is sort of hilarious (in a sad way). Connected instead on our cell phones, we could walk with our earbuds in… which is great sound! And, we saved gas. Lot of positives.

Here are some nice pics from “our” walk:

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I took a similar picture a week or two ago, but now the branches are full of leaves and blossoms:

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So that was my walk… nearly 90 minutes of exercise, connection and photographing. Then:

– I did a little work on my recipe organization project;

– Jim and I had a wonderful conversation with Peter (who’s a bit bored and ready to get back to classes Monday);

– I had a Zoom meeting with the Communications Committee and prepared a proposal  — like, a real proposal with rationales, objectives.. the works — thereafter for the leadership team… which was feeling a little too close to the work bone, but also kind of fun;

– Jim and I watched episodes 5 and 6 of Brockmire (the reintroduction of entertainment media into our lives is fantastic).

And then, AND THEN, I went to a distance cocktail party.  This was loosely organized by a neighbor a few blocks away, envisioned as a way to bring folks out of isolation to socialize close to home, but in a safe distance-maintaining kind of way. Some neighbors actually thought this violated the Yolo County Health Dept Guidelines (and said so quite lecturingly), but enough of us felt we could handle ourselves in a conscientious way and gathered anyway (rebels!).  Besides, we decided mental health was also a worthy objective. We each brought our own cocktails (me, sauvignon blanc in a mason jar) and snacks (me, crackers in a baggie) and chairs. And committed to doing it weekly until the guidelines are lifted. Nice way to meet some neighbors. Here are some pics (the good ones taken by neighbor Adam) (and note: we mingled in household clusters.. that is, those from the same households were close to one another, but the clusters themselves remained at distance.. you know.. just so you know we honored the guidelines):

These UCD seniors brought their couch to the sidewalk (of course).. left guy is a senior in mechanical engineering, right guy is also a senior double majoring in spanish and ag econ, both very engaging (and I only just now notice the joint…):

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Our “hosts” Beth and John..

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Ron and Wendy, playing a lot of Grateful Dead and other 60s peace tunes, with Jan and Adam (and dog) enjoying right along …

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A closer look at Ron and Wendy..

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It’s funny….. three people, whom I’ve met through political action in the last 3 years, live within 3 blocks of one another on A Street (Beth, Meghan, Wendy.. and of course me). What are the chances?

Oh, and finally, I gave myself a haircut. Bad hair is a sad reality and a telling artifact of our stay-at-home and/or socially distancing M.O these days. A funny joke going around is that we are all about to see what everybody’s true hair color is, as our hair grows out shaggier and shaggier, grey-er and grey-er.

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(Nice haircutting scissors, huh?)

To wit… (Adam took a photo of me, which I’ll crop in order to illustrate my point/s):

The Social Distance Cocktail Party

(Ouch.) Bad haircut and grey emerging. But I’m good with that. These are extraordinary times.

So, on this, the eve of week three of the global pandemic stay-at-home order, I managed to fill my day with novel novel coronavirus activities… self haircuts, zoom meetings, remote walks with friends, streaming media, long fallow projects, and a distance cocktail party.

Makin’ the most.

Melted Anchovies

March 26, 2020

Melting the anchovies is a new one on me. But it was a recipe that seemed worth trying.

It came from a New York Times article on recipes that draw from your current pantry… basically a response to the fact all of us are in stay at home mode — strict orders from, in this case, the California Governor — and we may not be grocery shopping as frequently as usual, and may be running short on ideas for what to cook, given we’re having to rely on relics from our pantries for ingredients.

This one called for tuna, capers and anchovies. (And the truth is, I had to go to the store to buy capers and anchovies… since I’d recently tossed 3 small jars of ancient capers and we had sardines but no anchovies in our panty.)

Here’re the ingredients, all prepped and ready to go:

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And the recipe…

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Jim’s and my rating is on a 4-star scale… I gave it a 3.5, Jim gave it a 3.  I didn’t take a pic of the finished dish, but it was angel hair and with the garnish, was very presentable. Served it with some steamed zuc… just to get some veggies.

I’ve been threatening Jim for, oh, about 21 years, that I was ready to get back to sharing a bit of the cooking. I used to cook a lot — Jim cooked a bit, as well, but I did the lion’s share — then, when Peter was born, Jim stepped in and pretty much took over all of the cooking. I was grateful! And he became a very good cook! He’s a natural because he has no fear of winging it and has a remarkable sense of taste. Like having an ear for music, he has a keen sense of flavors, can usually identify what’s in a dish, what it’s short on, what it needs for balance… he’s just really good that way. And never follows recipes (unless he’s baking or making something like batter for pancakes or waffles). He’s definitely produced some bombs, but for the most part, his dishes are really, really tasty.

 
I am a recipe person….which was one of my barriers to reassuming cooking duties. I felt like I had to organize all of my recipes first before I could re-launch into regular meal prep. And of course this was a project that sat dormant for a couple of decades… as big projects do, right? (RIGHT!?)

I subscribed to the NYT cooking thing (what is it called??) and have been doing the modern equivalent of clipping recipes for about six months, and am amassing quite a collection… so little by little have been venturing back into the kitchen.. much to Jim’s shock, I am quite sure.

Part of it is shame, too. I can’t, with good conscience, not do something with all of this free time (coronavirus free time). I mean, I have literally hours and hours of free time right now — in EVERY day. I’m blogging, I’m getting a lot of exercise, I’m committing a lot of hours to 2020 election stuff (I sure hope we have an election in November), I’m reading way too much news (but I guess that’s okay since we’re living in the most weirdly newsworthy time in history)…and I still have loads of time left over. So I may as well cook, right?

I’m also running out of things to blog about since my days have become repeats of one another… walks, spring flowers, anger and despair at the current state of our politics, coronavirus states of affair and the resulting shut down of society and life as we know it … what else is there?

Thus… a cooking post. Hopefully there will be more!

 

 

 

Adaptation

March 25, 2020

Here are a couple of examples of what people do when in the middle of a virus pandemic and nothing is as it was.

Nephew John who manages Legends, a huge and hugely popular sports bar in the heart of the very bustling 2nd Street district in Long Beach, got hit from multiple different angles. First, one by one, major sports teams suspended their seasons, their tournaments, their spring training..  that’s just terrible news for a sports bar that is covered wall-to-wall in screens big and bigger. In addition to that, the annual Grand Prix — a road race that takes place on the streets and boulevards of downtown Long Beach  — that is a huge event for all the local bars and restaurants, has been canceled this year.  Adding insult to injury, Governor Newsom called for the closure, first, of all bars, then of all restaurants. Ouch, ouch, ouch and ouch.

Besides having to lay off (or at least send home) dozens (hundreds) of staff members, they have a huge inventory of food and drink. So.. instead of letting all that stuff go to waste, they decided to see if people would want to buy it..

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… and they did! They are taking a huge hit on nearly every front, but at least can recoup some of their losses through these small sales.

Kellie, the massage therapist I have gone to for .. gosh .. about five years now, decided to turn her creativity and incredible talent to the task of making cute mask covers.. because those medical masks that people are wearing all over town are so… medical looking.  Get a look at this!

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Me… not as industrious… I’ve been doing a lot of walking. Here are a few shots from this morning’s absolutely beautiful outing:

Some crazy daisies…one bush, two different colors.. just delightful..

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The Bridges, at the corner of A St and B St (one of my favorite addresses in Davis), are hosting a bit of sidewalk chalk art…

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Community Park in fine, if sparsely attended, form…

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I’m just loving our front yard..

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And these… which I’ve never identified, never planted, but which come back every year… and I love..

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