My Pandemic Year: September 2020

September 1, 2020

I had incredibly vivid dreams last night. Chuck (my deceased husband) was standing in full dress Regimental Scottish, minus the hat, telling me he was going back home, and checking to make sure I took care of some task or other with our kids, a small boy and girl who were sitting at a table in the background, playing rather than eating. Both had brown hair, the boy was in a white formal shirt, I couldn’t see much of the girl, they appeared to be about 8 years old. Except that we never had kids…

In the same dream, I see my grandmother Hughes standing in front of me, trying to hand me a fabric mask, but she wasn’t speaking. I was woken up by my phone, which wouldn’t stop ringing for about 45 minutes and I couldn’t even power it off. Later that morning, I would find that my neighbors had moved without saying a final goodbye :(

There’s so much news today, more shootings, more “tell-all” books being released. More shenanigans at DOJ with Barr dismantling intelligence briefings on voter interference. USPS claiming that everything is OK after LeJoy has started to mess with staffing, scheduling and mail sorting machines. There’s a rush to get the U.S. vaccine out before it is fully tested. “Herd immunity” becomes today’s lethal catch-phrase.

“Insurrection Act” surfaced briefly on Twitter last week but does not appear in mainstream news sources. The injustice in this country is becoming more blatant as black men continue to get shot, and white boys with AR-17’s roam free…

Trump is now openly citing conspiracy theories. “Dark Shadow” and “a planeful of thugs from a certain city are coming to wreak havoc on the RNC”, spoken as though it was a first-hand account – so either Trump is flying commercial now, or he mistook his own Secret Service for thugs or Dark Shadows. We are in a weird f***king world today.

Local news reports draw a picture of downtown that is really sketchy. Bartells is closed. Starbucks is closed. Kress grocery closed today. There is literally no place on our block to buy a coffee, a sandwich or a bandaid. My only choice for outfitting our office is Target which is about 3 blocks away. Whenever we have an operating office again…

September 3, 2020

  • COVID-19 deaths in the US near 190,000. UW Medical forecasts 400,000 by January.
  • 100 nights of protest in Portland, OR.
  • Trump disparages fallen military by calling them “losers for dying”.
  • Trump encourages his supporters to vote for him twice to test the mail-in ballot system. Barr follows suit. It’s a FELONY to intentionally vote twice. I plan to write Congress this week.
  • Vaccines are being rushed by the Trump administration to be approved by November 1 (3 days before the election). The medical community is really skeptical of this deadline and warns again that releasing it before Phase 3 trials are complete, will erode public trust in vaccines.
  • In odd news, LA pilots encounter a guy in a jet pack at the airport, and a performance artist soars for 5 miles on a bundle of helium balloons before parachuting back down to earth. The balloons are presumed to still be up there somewhere…

September 6, 2020 – Vacation and survivalist spending

Vacation is weird when you can’t go anywhere. I use the time this week to work on hat orders, masks to donate, and Kate’s dress.

I’m now so stocked up on food and supplies that I feel like one of those survivalists preparing for the zombie apocalypse. Now I need to stop buying things and start building up cash reserves. I haven’t had to dip into my savings since the pandemic started, one of the slivers of silver in the elsewise very cloudy landscape. I have been goaded by my neighbor to schedule a flu shot for the first time in a decade, part of our preparations for that zombie apocalypse. We enter into a pact that if one of us (she, her sister, or I) fall ill with COVID-19, the other one or two will become the support system.

No stress there … just what has become our normal, daily mindset…

I bought a black pansy yesterday on one of our shopping expeditions. It’s the first one I’ve ever seen, and a nice addition to my Mom’s memorial garden. I also bought a variety of heather that I had never seen before, and maybe a variety I won’t manage to kill off.

There are a lot of UHaul trucks in the apartment complex this week, mostly people moving out. I wonder if it aligns with college, in spite of most of them being online now, after in-person classes resulted in another string of COVID-19 spikes. Another spike is expected after the Labor Day weekend.

Hat orders progress at a much slower rate than I expected. Even with my system of white boards listing daily and long term priorities, I am hard pressed to garner the interest in doing any of it. I’ve even stopped checking Facebook. Between Zuckerberg being an ass, and a lack of empathic capacity on my part, I just can’t deal with that level of social connection right now.

September 7, 2020

I fell asleep in my clothes last night and woke up draped in cats. It’s not the best of days. Everything makes me cry. Holidays are going to be weird this year, and a gloomy mood may be a more significant issue this winter than it normally is. I’m freaking out a little about my flu shot which is scheduled for Friday (I’ve reacted badly to them in the past which is why I stopped getting them). The news wasn’t even worth reading today.

September 10, 2020

We’re waiting for a smoke and ash cloud from the CA and OR fires, arriving tonight for the weekend. My lungs still hurt from the walk we took at the Res two days ago. I wonder if the sky will turn red like it did in San Francisco.

This week’s ‘bombshell’ outlined in Woodward’s new book doesn’t seem to make any greater dent in the Trump saga than anything else. Trump is truly teflon and Congress is truly useless. I still need to write them to request presidential censure for the continued voting disinformation.

Things feel really weird today, again. Everything feels so completely f***ked up. Is this depression? Burnout? COVID fatigue? I’m so tired of being tired…

September 11, 2020

My first flu shot in a decade is a non-event so far, so Vicki and I treated ourselves to a visit to City Mercantile. Haven’t been there in years. Bought trinkets.

The fires:

  • 10% of Oregonians have had to evacuate
  • The smoke and ash plume has arrived. Seattle, Portland and San Francisco currently have the worst air quality of any city in the world, which reached “Hazardous” this afternoon.
  • A fire map I saw yesterday showed that the entire Western half of the country was on fire, not just the West Coast.
  • Not one word of support, condolence, thought or prayer from Trump, who claims the fires are due to mismanagement of Federal lands in Blue states. Every day proves him to be the eternal a-hole.

September 13, 2020

We’ve had an ash-overcast with a yellow-grey sky for two days, and the cats are confused by the lack of an open window. I start work on the next 50 masks. At 2 PM I develop a low grade fever (99.1) which I hope is just from the flu shot. A very mild ache in that arm but none of the passing out or marked inflammation I’ve experienced with other vaccines. Turns out I’m allergic to egg-based vaccines…

I have to open a window briefly and sporadically in spite of the ash cloud, which is worse today than yesterday. But the stale indoor air is worse than the ash. I really wish they hadn’t removed our ceiling fans during last year’s renovations.

September 15, 2020

I have a temperature spike of 99.7. And my dragon tree is trying to die :(

September 17, 2020 – A really angry day, and thoughts of martial law

In COVID-19 news:

  • US death toll is expected to reach 200,000 by this weekend.
  • Fauci and Birx are now sidelined from the COVID-19 Task Force and are replaced by Scott Atlas, a radiologist touting herd immunity.
  • CDC Director Redfield is starting to stand up to Trump, but it may be too late, as he lost some credibility earlier in the year, presumably in order to keep his job. I wonder how long it will be before he is fired, now that he is not towing Trump’s party line.
  • Even the vaccine is now politicized.

In other news:

  • The US Census is now in limbo as a court order strikes down Trump’s efforts to end the count early (in an attempt to gerrymander the numbers to re-allocate congressional districts and funding based on state populations), and the deadline for completion is now really unclear.
  • Hysterectomies are being performed on ICE-detainees, harking back to forced sterilizations in labor camps in WWII. A whistleblower was being ‘rush deported’ before Congress intervened, as said whistleblower was a key witness in their investigation.
  • Chad Wolfe ignores subpeona and is found to be holding his Homeland Security office illegally.
  • Trump is lying so fast that fact checkers can barely keep up. Some of the media in the WH press core are finding spines and calling him out, which usually ends up in shouting matches and shortened press briefings.

I’m wondering how soon Trump will try to declare martial law, or a war with Iran. I cannot believe where we are now. Even AG Barr lies on a daily basis when he’s not threatening protesters with sedition (an executable offense). He’s now suggesting taking legal action against Seattle’s mayor Durkin for allowing CHOP to happen. When do all of these ‘last straws’ become big enough to break a camel’s back??? God help Biden and the next ten presidents after him. It’s going to take decades to undo this damage.

Building management called and instructed me to remove my VOTE sign from my window. I did, but I gave them an angry earful as I was ripping it down. My blood pressure stayed elevated for the rest of the day. But the day ends on good news, with Federal judges stepping up to “not pause the census” and “restore the USPS”.

September 18, 2020 – Justice Ginsberg

Rosh Hashanah. Justice Ginsberg dies. Mitch McConnell decides, no time wasted. It’s up to the GOP to decide just how hypocritical they can afford to be. I spend 2 hours sending emails to Congress, requesting that this seat remain vacant, now that we are in an election year. But I know those letters will mostly fall on the deaf ears of the GOP controlled Senate.

How much worse are days going to get before January 20, I wonder.

September 19, 2020

Justice Ginsberg is not dead for 2 hours before McConnell calls for a floor vote to fill her now vacant seat. Trump managed to say something nice about her last night but puts his full force behind McConnell’s decision. Happy Jewish New Year :(

I have another temp spike today of 99.5, with body aches and other complaints. I wonder if stress is starting to manifest itself in these physical symptoms.

My long weekend starts today but mostly I just clean house and make masks. I make lists but they only help marginally, as I mostly ignore them once I’ve made them. I really need to make better use of my time, if for no other reason than to distract me from the state of disrepair and disregard that we seem to be living in now.

On a brighter note, the first heavy downpour of the season is knocking the ash out of the sky. All of my windows are open for the first time in a a week.

September 21, 2020

US passed 200,000 on Monday according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard, which is the only source I record here. Other media sources cite numbers about 2,000 higher.

Fever spikes decreased yesterday and temp today is back to normal. But I still feel like crap. I try to stay off the news for the rest of the day because it is leaving me shell-shocked. I finish up a short list of adult commitments in hopes of devoting the remains of the weekend to creative time.

Sept 22, 2020

  • The Washington Cathedral tolled their bells 100,000 times on Sunday to honor those lost to COVID-19.
  • US death toll has doubled since May and is expected to double again by the end of this year. It will be interesting to see statistics on how many people die after casting their vote (i.e. if those votes will be contested).
  • Four of the largest casualty events in the USA are the Civil War, WWII, the 1918 flu pandemic, and now the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The CDC appears to be run by political operatives now. The coronavirus is now said to be airborne (as I assumed from the very beginning) but that guidance was removed from the CDC website 24 hours later.

Democrats may lose the ability to postpone Justice Ginsberg’s seat on SCOTUS. The next nominee will be a woman, both of the women under consideration are currently (conservative) judges which will smooth their way to Senate confirmation. Trump has said he needs a full conservative court to litigate a questioned election.

Seattle, Portland and NYC are back in Barr’s crosshairs for our stance on defunding the police (which actually means realigning police with social service agencies rather than deleting the police force entirely). The DOJ is working hand in hand with the White House to divide the country in every way possible.

I read an interesting article about millennial burnout, including the lack of downtime and “errand paralysis” which leads to piles of tasks and errands left undone. I can relate to that. I use vacation time now to force myself to booth through those piles of tasks and errands and ‘clean the slate (white boards).

I’m making about 50 masks per month now. On one hand I’m trying to scale back, but on the other hand, braiding the ties is a mindless thing to keep my hands busy while I’m watching movies or the news. I don’t know how long I’ll be in the hat business. I stopped marketing when the lockdowns started, and my galleries have not requested stock for the holiday season. Maybe this is just the break that Marie suggested that I take (last year).

Guardians of the Galaxy arrived Saturday, my reward for a day of cleaning house. Sunday I walked into my sewing room and found a small black and orange googley eye firmly adhered to the corner of my sewing table. WTH? I have no idea how it got there, but it looks like a Baby Groot eye. Payne will make me a Baby Groot on his new 3-D printer. I can hardly wait.

Taking some vacation days offers a good mental reset and a snapshot into what retirement might look like if we survive the current administration. But it takes me a full five days to get to that reset button. I need to buy more journals. I wish I could go thrift store shopping.

September 23, 2020 – Ginsberg in repose, no justice for Taylor, democracy in peril

  • COVID-19 cases in the US are now 7 million, we are nearing 40,000 new cases daily. Our cumulative case count is on an upwards trajectory, and has not plateaued as the White House claims.
  • COVID-19 death toll in the US is 201,909. 1,432 died today, and about 500 of those died within a space of 4 hours.
  • Death numbers doubled between May-Sept. Average daily death rate is now 930 according to Statistica. There will be 42,000 fewer voters by November.
  • Global death count is 1 million, the US accounts for 20% of that, with 4% of the total global population.
  • The economy continues to tank, including farms which threaten the US food supply.
  • Airlines announce they are laying off 100,000.
  • 126 retails stores and services have now shuttered in downtown Seattle.
  • Trump is back to holding rallies and replays of his rhetoric. He’s pretty much gone fascist at this point.

Justice Ginsberg went for the final time to the Supreme Court, where 100 of her former law clerks met her casket on the steps. She lies in repose at the US Capitol today, the first woman to be accorded that honor. I spent an hour watching C-SPAN coverage. Two women served as pallbearers. It has been pouring rain here for two days but is sunny in DC today.

Breonna Taylor was shot to death 170 days ago, as she slept in her apartment. Today the officers were acquitted. The country now braces for riots. I don a black armband and paste “BLM” to the back of my coat, and am at a loss as to what else I can do. There is No Justice. And now there will be No Peace.

It is now after noon and this damn task paralysis persists. I wish I could shake this feeling of needing to prepare for the end times. My temp is back down to 97.1, lower back pain and really tight chest from anxiety. I’m getting really tired of this. Of all of it.

Tonight, Trump suggests that “ballots are a fraud and should be thrown out” and that there won’t be a transition, just a continuation of his power. Barr echoes: “Get rid of ballots and there won’t be a transition.” “Civil War” has now entered the landscape of commentary. Trump is stacking the courts to win the election (if the results are contested and go to SCOTUS), and then will force every law he wants. We are in unfathomable danger as a democracy, and NO ONE in Congress is standing up for us. Winning reelection is the only way he stays out of jail unless a Democratic Senate can impeach him.

Seattle is now on the “Defund the Anarchist Jurisdictions” list but we don’t know what that means exactly. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do if Trump wins or takes a second term. We will live in a country where only white people who tow the GOP party line will be safe.

September 24, 2020

COVID-19 deaths in the US total 202,762. Deaths since yesterday – 853.

It’s pouring rain again today. My tight chest, lower back pain and generalized anxiety are now chronic conditions.

In a surprise turn of events, McConnell and other GOP members rebuke Trump in his response to hedging on a peaceful transition. Biden: “He says the most irrational things. I don’t know what to say. Pelosi: “He’s not worth the trouble at this point”. Coons: “Believe him” (issued as a warning I think). But the GOP say one thing and then do the opposite.

Trump now says he would accept a hypothetical Supreme Court ruling” in Biden’s favor. He’s still intent on making the election an issue determined by the courts. He also spoke yesterday of tossing the popular vote and assembling a new Electoral College.

Payne drops by to deliver a Baby Groot, which took 18 hours for his 3-D printer to produce. My mystery googley eye is just the right size. It cheers me up immensely.

September 25, 2020

As of 8 PM tonight, US COVID-19 cases are 7,033,268. Total deaths are 203,704. We lost 942 people today. Florida lifts all COVID-19 restrictions today.

Downtown businesses that have now closed include:

  • Macys
  • Bergman Luggage
  • Bartell Drugs (next door to our office)
  • Kress Grocery (across from our office and the only full service grocer south of Belltown, since Amazon never opened).
  • Aaron Brothers (art supply)
  • Payless Shoes
  • TJ Maxx
  • Ivars on the waterfront and at South Lake Union
  • Hungry & Harried (also across the street from our office)
  • The only businesses on our block are Wild Ginger Restaurant, the jeweler next door, a Subway shop and the Gelatiamo. Our office building remains boarded up.

The GOP continues to assure the public of an orderly transition, but do not rebuke Trump directly. Flags fly at half mast over the Supreme Court Building for 30 days for Justice Ginsberg. Trump issued a national order for 8 days, though I’m pretty sure that he was prompted / goaded into issuing that order.

September 26, 2020

US COVID-19 cases today total 7,065,019. Global deaths are 990,738. US deaths are 204,249.

A slow start to my day ramps up to hatmaking and prep for my first virtual art show through Peters Valley School of Craft. Polenta and chevre make a quick & easy lunch today. I need to find ways to use polenta after ‘stress-stocking-up’ on that foodstuff.

The word of the day is HYPOCRACY as the GOP forge ahead with their plans to fill the SCOTUS seat. Democrats struggle between throwing hammers into the gears or boycotting the vote altogether. I hope they fight. Some GOP may still be dissuaded from confirming the current nominee. Fight while you still have a chance to.

September 28, 2020 – A million global COVID-19 deaths

We reached 1 million COVID-19 deaths globally today. US deaths are now 205,031. On May 26 I recorded 98,294 deaths. If my math is correct and we averaged 26,684 deaths per month, we will reach 280,000 deaths by December 31.

NYTimes releases pieces of Trump’s tax returns which show tax evasion in the guise of severe business losses over the past 15 years. Trump owes $73 million to the IRS and $410 million in personal loans that come due in the next three years. (Al Capone was ultimately nailed on tax evasion, we’ll see if that’s the card that folds Trump’s hand.)

The ACA looks like it’s on its way to being repealed by SCOTUS, fears that Roe v. Wade might be next as conservatives take over the majority vote in the court. We are breaking as a country and some fear for what is coming next.

CNN reports that a lack of exercise not only affects muscle mass, but also lung capacity and brain function. So I went to the parking garage at NW Hospital where I climbed 8 flights of (exterior) stairs today. I vow to do so every other day (at minimum).

September 29, 2020

Politico reports today that the US needs 660 billion doses of vaccine to inoculate half of our population (at 2 doses each), and that COVID-19 might not be under control until 2023.

Smoke from the CA fires is returning but isn’t supposed to be as bad this time. The first presidential debate is tonight. I’m definitely avoiding it.

I’ve been late to work for the past two days (8:30-9 AM). My temp is normal but I’m losing simple words. I’m completely unmotivated in spite of my upcoming art show. This depression is insidious. It’s still sunny, I shouldn’t be this depressed. I’m fighting the urge to go shopping – I Do Not Need More Food. So I spent $60 on mask and hatmaking supplies instead.

It feels weird to not be hip-deep in hat production. Normally I’d be preparing 5-6 dozen hats to ship to galleries for their holiday sales, but even the galleries that are open, have not requested new stock. Which is just as well, since I have very little ambition for it anyway. All I want to make right now are masks – simple, fast, using up a lot of textile that I cannot use for hats – instant gratification. I’ve had zero mask sales since the first wave when I introduced my couture line back in May. They’re probably too expensive now that you can buy a mask for $5 pretty much anywhere. Shipping a single mask alone is nearly $4. But that price will come down when I switch from braided yarn ties, to black elastic. I’m just waiting on that order.

Vicki kidnapped me for a midday walk at Golden Gate Park. It cut the boredom of the day for both of us. Days have become Blursdays again. One day just like the next and no different from the last.

I’m sort of surprised at the lack of news stories about the effects of COVID-19 on the environment, now with all the masks, gloves and single serve to-go food bags and containers that are now littering streets and filling trash bins. We’re nothing on any front but a steaming hot mess.

September 30, 2020

Today’s COVID-19 numbers:

  • Global deaths – 1,011,282
  • US deaths – 206,859 (20% of global deaths)
  • 358 deaths in the US show a slowdown
  • US cases – 7,229,319

I woke up angry again, and late for work again. The upstairs neighbors are getting pretty noisy but nothing that is reportable. Just heavy walking and playing with dogs. I pretend I’m living under a Roman Legion on maneuvers, with wolf hounds and war elephants…

The ash cloud has arrived and is more dense than I was expecting. This one is from fires in North CA so the plume had less distance to travel and dissipate.

The Met has closed until 2021. Disney laid off 1/4 of its workforce today. Mnuchin meets with Pelosi today to work out the next COVID-19 relief package before Congress leaves for campaign season. I guess people have given up on Turtle McConnell.

The debate last night is being widely panned. “A hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck.” Trump was off the rails disruptive, wouldn’t let Biden speak, and the moderator, Chris Wallace from Fox News, was wholly ineffective. There are calls to cut the mikes so only one candidate can speak at a time during the next debate.

Trump also called out the Proud Boys (a white supremacy group) during the debate last night, and told them to “stand by”. Today he tried to walk that back by saying he didn’t know who they were. There seems to be some attachment to Roger Stone (who’s sentence Trump commuted today) but there’s only so much Trump news I can digest in a 24 hour period.

At 8 PM I’m still at my desk, watching the news. I hope I can get back to more normal activity after the election November 5. I’ve signed up for a slew of political action lists but have yet to do anything meaningful aside from my Ginsberg letters to Congress. I wonder what the point even is. Maybe I’m just too overwhelmed.

Vanity Fair reports that Trump is fearful that Pascale will talk while in custody (he tried to commit suicide after beating his wife up on September 27 and was taken to a hospital for evaluation). Pascale was Trump’s campaign manager until the Tulsa rally fiasco, and may open up for a plea deal to reduce any charges he may get hit with in his own fraud investigation. “We only hire the best people.” Is it evil for me to laugh out loud…

Published by augustphoenixhats

I'm a self taught hat & mask maker, working in rescued textiles and found objects. My hat designs are inspired by my travels and historical studies, my masks from the textiles they are born from.

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