My Pandemic Year: December 2020

December 1, 2020

  • US cases 13,709,941 (168,720 new) / deaths 270,509 (2,464 of us died today)
  • WA State cases 167,216 (2,107 new) / deaths 2,805 (31 new)
  • WA State hospitalizations 10,920 (1,620 new)

I dreamed last night that I was on an endless walk through a forest. I woke up tired and depressed. I’m tired of waking up tired.

The first vaccines could arrive by December 21, pending FDA approval. “100% of Americans will have a vaccine by June if they want it.” 300 million doses are expected to be available according to Operation Warp Speed.

Teachers and medical personnel are now exhausted. The 8-10 million who traveled over Thanksgiving need to either isolate or get tested, as well as everyone they visited. December-January are expected to be really bleak. Death rate continues at 1 per minute. Meanwhile, 10 holiday parties are scheduled at the White House.

COVID-19 has now boosted subscriptions to major news publications (NYT, WaPo) but has shuttered local newspapers, some after a century of operation. Some small communities have zero local reporting and are now open to partisan groups passing off their political propaganda as news.

Trump is now at the Supreme Court, trying to remove undocumented aliens from the census. He’s not succeeding, mostly due to logistical issues to identify them, precedent, and the 30 days remaining in 2020.

DOJ finds no evidence of fraud that would affect the outcome of the election and is now investigating some sort of bribery for pardons scheme from August. DOJ no longer seems as supportive of Trump as Barr has been. We wait for Barr to be tweet-fired and wonder who will replace him.

December 2, 2020

  • US cases 13,915,286 (205,343 new) /deaths 273,316 (2,807 is a new record)
  • 100,226 are hospitalized and 20% of those are in ICU
  • New estimated death toll is 700,000 by summer 2021
  • One person now dies every 35 seconds

The daily death toll is unfathomable and every day breaks the last record. The panic in the medical community is palpable. Dr. Vin Gupta asks for military reserve personnel to assist. Federal resources have now been depleted. IMHO Trump needs to be removed from the public stage and new leadership needs to step in. RIGHT NOW.

Trump plans to hold a rally during Biden’s inauguration to announce his run in 2024.

Quarantine time has now been cut to 7-10 days, down from 14. Vaccines are now expected to be available in February-March for my age group, which would allow me to return to the office 1 full year after this whole thing started. Masks and social distancing will need to remain in place until at least June-July when we expect to reach herd immunity. The entire population may not get vaccinated until January 2022.

I managed 8 flights of stairs and a 45 minute walk today. I turned off the news for much of the day but check FB before going to bed to make sure none of my friends have died…

December 3, 2020 – “Historic High Risk of Infection”

  • Global cases 65,169,904 / deaths 1,505,527
  • US cases 14,125,615 (210,339 new) / deaths 276,157 (2,841 died today)

The WH Task Force says “health care should go rogue and defy local governments who aren’t taking them seriously.” People over 65 are now advised “to not enter public spaces where anyone is unmasked.” Those under 40 “should assume they are infected and are now a danger to others.” We are now at “historic high risk” and December-February are expected to be the worst in US history.

Concerns that the effects of the 2nd COVID-19 shot will be worse than flu shots is starting to dissuade some people. The anti-vaxxers are also becoming a problem. WA State expects to receive 250,000 doses by December 31 which will go to medical staff and residents of long term care facilities. Vaccines will ship 24 hours after FDA approval EXCEPT THAT the FDA has not yet approved any vaccine… and even when we can get a vaccine it won’t be effective for 2-4 weeks, and a 2nd dose is required at the 30 day mark. UN Chief says COVID-19 recovery will take years, possibly decades on a global scale.

Leases for Arctic oil drilling open today for bidding. The Sierra Club announces that all major US banks have stepped away from lending to Arctic drilling projects. Hopefully foreign banks will follow suit.

December 4, 2020 – An Orphan’s Lament

  • Global cases 65,760,928 / deaths 1,515,940
  • US cases 14,337,640 (212,025 new) / deaths 278,594 (2,437 died today)
  • WA State hospitalizations and death counts have tripled over the past 30 days
  • COVID-19 is officially the #1 killer in the US, surpassing heart disease

El Paso now has 13 mobile morgues, and their crematorium has broken down from over-use. There’s concern about a shortage of gravesites. The CDC now recommends “universal mask use” for all indoor settings both public and private, and to avoid non-essential indoor spaces and travel. No federal mandate is issued to back any of that up.

Unemployment rate is now 6.7%, down from a high of 13% this spring. But the jobs numbers are half what was expected for November. 500,000 people lost UI benefits in November. The stock market continues to rise, so the wealthy become more so, which I guess is all Congress cares about at this point.

WH fires the entire Pentagon Business Advisory Board and starts replacing them with Trump sycophants. WH blocks Biden from receiving intel briefings from the Pentagon. The WH turns over to lawyers a list of phones and addresses for families separated at the border, after having denied that they kept those lists.

It occurred to me today that I would normally be making holiday plans for Mom – ZooLights, Christmas dinner, Advent activities, parties at Foss Home. She won’t do any of those things this year, and by association, neither will I. My general dislike for the holidays takes an unexpected turn as I pivot from doing “All The Things” to “None of the Things.” No shopping for trinkets to give her on my weekly visits, no buying new decor for her room. No Nothing.

December 5, 2020

  • US cases 14,570,912 (233,272 new) / deaths 281,121 (2,527 died today)
  • At the current rate, another 62,500 will be dead by December 31.

Vaccine news has become repetitive as promises for doses for a vaccine that still isn’t approved, continues. Today’s mortality forecast is 539,000 by April. CA is returning to lockdown as ICU bed availability dips below 15%.

Kate’s dresses are finally ready to ship. A purple linen embroidered at cuff, hem and neck, over a chemise with a gradated dyed hem overpainted with ivy. The pair is simpler than I had originally envisioned but I think they will still be impactful.

December 6, 2020 – The 10 month mark

This week marks 10 months of isolation. I’m thinking a lot about Mom today and am darkly thankful that she isn’t in isolation for what was a year of holidays ending with might have been her last Christmas. It’s sunny today but I’m achy and depressed, with limited capacity to respond to others who are also struggling. I’m staying off of social media again today.

Guiliani has coronavirus. He was sweating up a storm on November 19, the day of the now infamous hair dye incident. He was probably contagious at that point.

December 7, 2020 – “No One is OK” and what century is this?

  • US cases 14,933,847 (362,935 in the last 24 hours)
  • US deaths 283,631 (2,510 in the last 24 hours)
  • Some counties are now reporting 50% positivity in testing

What a numbing day. Medical staff are starting to post their accounts of what they are going through. They are developing PTSD. CNN labels our current condition “psychic numbing” and that grief must be witnessed because numbers become faceless statistics. “The equivalent of 19 – 737’s crashed yesterday”. There’s a disconnect because we cannot grasp the enormity of this loss. No one is OK. Our grief is loss – not just deaths, but the missed holidays and activities that normally bind us together.

Of the 300,000 doses that Operation Warp Speed promised, only 100,000 have been purchased. Trump turned down 100,000 which Pfizer has now sold elsewhere. The other drug companies are weeks away from applying for emergency approval through the FDA.

No vets attend the ceremonies at Pearl Harbor this morning, and by 3 PM the day has become overshadowed by COVID-19 and election newsbytes ahead of the electoral college voting. I hope the court cases stop (50 so far, 35 dismissed). I hope Congress stops helping Trump beat his now decomposing horse. The continued efforts to undermine the election system are really alarming.

The Senate appears to be continuing their efforts to affect the Electoral College. They’re ramming through judges and executions but ignoring COVID-19 relief funding. Worst Congress in US history. If Dems don’t win both seats in Georgia, Biden’s hands will be tied by yet another obstructionist Senate led by McConnell.

Melania Trump announces that the WH tennis court pavilion is finished. For contrast, President Carter is still building houses for the homeless. I feel like we’re living in Marie Antoinette’s 18th century France…

December 8, 2020

  • Global cases 68,225,313 / deaths 1,556,822
  • US cases 15,164,885 (231,028 new) / deaths 286,227 (2,606 died today)

CLEAR ELECTION INTERFERENCE is occurring. Trump is calling election officials and governors in 4 swing states to negate their election results, in violation of 18 USC 241 and 242. I am so mad… will this ever frelling end… The Texas AG is now suing 4 other states to block their electoral votes. Ted Cruz is trying to get SCOTUS to hear the case. They’re arguing over mail-in voting in the middle of a pandemic. SCOTUS immediately refuses to play the game. Shenanigans at the WH continue nonetheless.

Governor Inslee extends the WA State lockdown to January 4. $50 million in small business grants is being distributed but Inslee knows it’s not enough. Hospitals are in worse shape now than they were in March. Care is now being rationed in ICUs across the country. Both face shields and masks are now strongly recommended for anyone over 55 years old. I’m basically not leaving my house now.

December 10, 2020

  • US cases 15,611,014 (239,061 new) / deaths 292,141 (3,252 died today)
  • US deaths on 9/11 were 2,977. We’re now losing that number every day.

FDA Advisory Board approves emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine today, it is now pending approval by Stephen Hahn, FDA Commissioner. Feds promise to deliver 400,000 doses of vaccine country-wide by December 31.

Over 2,369 restaurants in WA State have now closed permanently. Half of those are in King County, 600 of those are in Seattle and include coffee shops and bars.

106 members of the US House of Representatives have signed onto the Texas amicus brief to overturn the results of the election. Trump has now lost 54 out of 55 court cases. He is purging the Pentagon and trying to erode the Civil Service. WARNING WILL ROBINSON.

In happier news, backyard gardening in the UK is resulting in thousands of archaeological finds according to the British Museum. NW Harvest in WA State moves from food banks to food vouchers which can be used at any grocery store. Yesterday, NYT uses the term “sewist” for the first time as a neutral-gender term.

December 11, 2020 – Hanukkah begins, and what century is this again?

  • Global cases 71,050,940 / deaths 1,594,775
  • US cases 15,842,789 / deaths 295,450 (3,309 died today)
  • WA State cases 193,413 / deaths 2,850 / test positive rate 5.89%

Biden and Harris make the cover as Times Persons of the Year, Fauci as the Times “Guardian of the Year.” Der Spiegel in Germany prints Trump as “Loser of the Year” on the cover of their December edition.

The amicus brief now includes the non-existent entities of “New California” and “New Nevada” but is now thought to be more of a money raising scheme than a legal argument. By 3:45 PM today SCOTUS dismisses the amicus for “lack of standing.” Texas now wants to secede from the Union. I keep losing track of what century I’m living in…

The famous German Holiday Markets, dating back to the 17th century, close for the first time since WWII. New York bans indoor dining for the rest of December.

The WH hosted a 200 person Hanukkah event and a Congressional “Covid Ball.” Fifty people in Trump’s circle have now been infected. Guiliani is released from the hospital after having received the same therapeutics that Trump was treated with. Mark Meadows, WH Chief of Staff, tells Hahn (FDA Commissioner) to either approve the vaccine by tomorrow, or resign. Hahn denies the threat but authorizes the Pfizer later today.

I find dark humor in seeing a FedEx freight truck parked outside of the cemetery. There are several fresh graves today, I wonder which one was expecting a delivery.

December 12, 2020

  • COVID-19 US cases 16,057,434 / deaths 297,789 (2,339 died today)

CA is now fully on lockdown, with near zero ICU bed capacity. Bankers and brokers are trying to get defined as essential workers, to get vaccines ahead of actual essential workers like bus drivers, grocery clerks and agricultural workers. There are questions about if the vaccines prevent viral transmission as well as providing immunity,

Charley Pride dies today, age 86, from COVID-19.

Trump continues his stolen victory rants, and there’s Twitter chatter about him firing Barr and declassifying state secrets in an act of vengeance. Martial Law trends on Twitter but his followers spell it “Marshal Law.” I Hate the Illiterati. Make It Stop.

I invited Vicki to an impromptu “tree lighting” on my patio – my entry for the Luminary event that went virtual this year after Greenlake (and most other parks) locked down. I set tea lights into green cut glass bowls and lined them up as luminaries, and threw a string of lights onto my little Asian pine, which will probably confuse the birds tomorrow. Since we couldn’t unmask to share cocoa and treats, I gave her a goodie bag of hot cocoa mix, candies and fruits to take home, and hope it cheered up her day a little. It’s the last time I’lll see her before the holidays.

Tonight I’m finishing the last orders for the year, and prepping prototypes to work on. I’m trying to keep myself distracted from the raucous party upstairs that finally calmed down around midnight. The sound of parties is so weird right now.

December 14, 2020 – Electoral College and another firehose news day

  • COVID-19 US deaths reach 300,267 at 1:30 PM, 100 times our 9/11 losses.
  • US deaths occur 1 every 36 seconds.
  • 100,000 million doses are on trucks for delivery to all 50 states. It’s enough for 1st doses for about 1/5 of the population.

The Electoral College cast their votes today. Many of the meeting places are closed to the public and some are held in undisclosed locations because of the threats of violence. Biden is confirmed at 1:30 PM with 306 Electoral votes, the same number that won Trump the presidency in 2016. The GOP are now more concerned with their role to certify those results on January 6, than they are about the Georgia runoff on January 5, which has all but dropped from the news cycle.

A hack has been discovered at the US Treasury, Commerce, State Dept., Homeland Security and Intel and Nuclear Labs at the Pentagon, dating back to June. Russia is suspect, I wonder if Chris Krebs was investigating it before Trump fired him in November. Barr announces his resignation effective December 23 and will be replaced by Jeff Rosen. Speculation ensues if Trump will succeed in getting Rosen to overturn the election and declare Trump President.

December 15, 2020

Vaccines arrive in Seattle today. Fauci announces that Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, an African American woman, was one of 2 team leaders who developed the Moderna vaccine. He restates that the general public should start receiving vaccines by March/April, with herd immunity expected by June, and life starting to return to normal by the fall. UPS and FedEx offer to collaborate on vaccine delivery nation-wide.

McConnell recognizes Biden and Harris as President and VP-Elect on the Senate floor. Putin congratulates Biden on his win.

The COVID-19 relief bill is still stuck in Congress. Trump threatens to veto the NDAA military funding bill. MSNBC reports that people are now receiving financial solicitations from the Trump campaign at the rate of about 1 email per hour.

Pompeo cancelled his speech at the Diplomat’s Holiday Party this evening. 900 invitations were sent out, 70 RSVP’d but fewer than 70 showed up. A normal year sees 200-300 guests at that event.

Ann Reinking (actress and choreographer for “Chicago” and “All That Jazz” died, age 76. I did not know she was originally from Seattle.

December 16, 2020

  • US cases 16,964,180 (444,564 new since December 14)
  • US deaths 307,340 (6,861 since December 14)
  • Average daily death toll is now 3,430. I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around that number.

CA orders 5,000 body bags and 60 refrigerator trucks are on their way to LA and San Diego. NYT discloses that Trump’s administration was trying to achieve herd immunity by “infecting as many people as possible” which explains his lack of a mask mandate.

There’s renewed focus on getting schools open, to combat increasing behavioral health and depression issues in children.

McConnell urges the Senate to not contest the election while there are rumblings that House GOPers plan to contest mail-in votes in swing states. It will go nowhere if zero Senators support those efforts. Brazil and Mexico congratulate Biden today.

I’m achy all over today and leave my desk early to take a walk, which didn’t help. No amount of chocolate is blunting my blues today. I blinged out all of my facemasks with my favorite brooches, and then lose one of my favorites – a cog-heart – on my walk today. At 2 AM I finally feel normal but now I have insomnia. Finished a Dublin cap and have 3 more orders to finish this weekend.

December 17, 2020 – Vaccine shortages begin

  • US cases 17,198,633 (234,453 new) / deaths 310,699 (3,359 people died today)
  • Death rate continues at 1 every 30 seconds.
  • WA State passes 3,000 cases today, with 13,074 hospitalized. 78% of our hospital beds are now full.
  • Infection rate is now 468 per 100,000 cases.
  • In LA County, 1 in 50 are infected and South California has reached 0% ICU capacity.

CDC recommends NO travel if you’ve had COVID-19 because you can be reinfected (especially if you are within 90 days of recovery) and the vaccine has not been proven to stop the spread. Macron of France is now infected. Bethlehem and the West Bank in Israel are locked down until January 2 and are not accepting holiday tourists.

Moderna vaccine is approved for emergency use by the FDA Advisory Council at 2 PM today. It may prevent transmission, which the Pfizer vaccine cannot.

Several states including WA are told today that we will receive 40% less vaccines than originally promised, no explanation is given. Pfizer confirms with CNN that 1 million doses are in their warehouse but they don’t have instruction from the WH on where to ship them. Pfizer later says this accounts for the 40% reduction at state level.

12 million people are at risk of losing UI benefits on December 26 because Congress can’t get their act together. The COVID-19 relief package has been sitting for 9 months because the GOP was waiting until after the election. There are 1 million new applicants for unemployment benefits nearly every day.

The Russian cyber attack has been in place since March and is still ongoing. “We don’t know what we have lost.” Trump says China, not Russia, is responsible. He continues to threaten to veto the military spending bill, which includes substantial funding for cyber security. People are starting to wonder if Trump really is a Russian agent…

School superintendents issue a ‘snow day’ after a 2′ snowfall, in spite of kids being schooled remotely. “Go outside and build a snowman. We will return to the serious and urgent business of growing up on Thursday.” Pretty fun!

December 18, 2020 – Martial Law enters the WH dialog

Biden continues to choose dynamic and diverse candidates for his cabinet, including Haaland, the first Native American woman to lead the Dept. of the Interior.

Congressional shenanigans continue. Pentagon halts security briefings with Biden after Trump met with Pentagon Chief Miller last night. General Flynn brings up martial law to force a re-vote in swing states. GOP continue to hold up the COVID-19 relief package and tries to restrict the Federal Reserve from the emergency lending program for businesses because it was a temporary measure. Dems say cuts to the program will hinder Biden’s economic recovery efforts. Language is shifting from “stimulus checks” to “survival funds.”

  • News sources report that we are now in the greatest recession since 1930.
  • News sources also report we are in the greatest health care crisis since 1918.

WH says they have a backstock of vaccines “in case a plane crashes in the storms on the NE Coast.” UPS and FedEx were supposed to assist but they are now buried in their regular holiday deliveries. There are other delays in the supply chain for both Pfizer and Moderna which is resulting in fewer doses being shipped on schedule.

The Russian hack also affected Canada, Mexico, the UAE, Israel, Spain and Belgium according to Microsoft. Alex Vindeman says the attack has damaged critical infrastructure, which I think means telecom and the power grid. That’s a little scary.

December 19, 2020 – Chatter about marches on DC and a coup

  • COVID-19 at 10:30 AM – US cases 17,503,396 / US deaths 314,305
  • We have 2-3 times more deaths than Brazil, the next closest country at 185,650 deaths
  • WA State cases 212,283 confirmed, 220,268 probable / deaths 3,104
  • King County cases 57,134 / deaths 956
  • King County hospitalizations 40% age 20-39, 28% age 40-59

Apparently, I forgot to feed the cats last night…

I stepped outside this afternoon to catch a weird weather event – a sunset that lit the Western sky on fire, and a full arch rainbow directly to the East. In December! The rainbow looked more like a halo, and I felt like I was standing in the middle of some sort of eclipse.

My mornings are slow to start now, especially on weekends. I may become a night owl when I retire. I’m turning on all of my twinkle lights at 4 PM every day, doing my part to light up the neighborhood. The radio stays off now for the rest of the month, now that Christmas music has taken over. I’m back to trying to ignore the holidays. At 5 PM I realize I’ve spent most of the day in a room with no sound, staring at a wall. I feel like I’m in a time warp.

Trump wants to appoint Sidney Powell as special council for election fraud, and confiscate all the voting machines. There’s chatter on Twitter and NYT about a coup, and a “Million Militia March” on DC to disrupt the inauguration. Trump also tweets about a march on January 6 during the Congressional certification of the Electoral votes. Trump is proving to be a clear and present danger while there are screaming matches in the Oval Office and WH advisors are trying containment measures.

Is it time to enact the 25th Amendment yet?

A new COVID-19 mutation has emerged, thought to be more contagious but not any more lethal. Karen posts to FB today an article about COVID-19 crossing the blood-brain barrier, which is the same research that scared the hell out of me in February and sent me into home isolation. Italy joins Germany in lockdown, Spain is or soon will be, parts of England and all of Wales. It’s going to be a dark Christmas for everyone.

December 21, 2020 – Solstice Eve, Martial Law chatter, State capitol stormed

  • US cases 17,704,343 (200,947 new) / deaths 316,932 (2,627 died last night)

The UK has now become a hotspot with their new COVID-19 mutation and their lockdown restrictions are expected to last for a few months. The mutation is 70% more contagious, and studies are underway to determine if it is more lethal, and if the current vaccines are still viable against it. Belgium, Italy, Canada and the Netherlands ban flights from the UK. Eurorail cancels service from the UK to Italy but not to France, but later in the day France bans all transit from the UK for the next 48 hours.

Trump continues to flirt with the concept of martial law. Iran keeps coming up as a potential reason to declare war. Congress is focused on the COVID-19 relief package and is not paying attention to this serious turn of events. Three GOP senators have announced plans to contest the Electoral votes on January 6, McConnell is expected to shut that effort down as it will be very damaging to the GOP.

Our state capitol was stormed today and two journalists were assaulted. Security measures are now being beefed up.

December 21, 2020 – Solstice

  • US cases 18,011,499 (307,156 new) / deaths 319,255 (2,323 died since yesterday morning)
  • WA State cases 222,608 (2,374 new) / deaths 3,104 total
  • WA State hospitalizations 13,391, ICU beds are now at 90% capacity
  • King County is having 500 new cases daily, and averaging 6 deaths daily (normal is 2 deaths daily)

COVID-19 deaths in the US are expected to exceed 3,000 every day (1.6 deaths per 100 cases). By March 30, vaccines could save 25,000, national mask usage could save another 56,000, if only we had such a mandate. Essential workers are next in line for vaccines, followed by those 75 and older. Pence, Biden and members of Congress receive shots, including those who have continued to call COVID-19 a hoax. 556,000 people have now received their first shot. The target by today was 24 million. Distribution is being hampered by a lack of federal funding.

Inslee issues travel restrictions on arrivals from countries with the COVID-19 mutation (which now includes a new and more lethal strain from South Africa). 40 other countries have now banned flights from the UK. Suspended transit between the UK and the EU is now disrupting freight, which may lead to shortages in addition to those caused by Brexit.

Congress votes on a ‘survival funds’ package of $600 per person and $300 additional in UI but with an 11 week extension of benefits. It’s not enough. It also contains a moratorium on evictions through January, a ban on surprise medical bills – and just over $1 billion to fund Trump’s damn wall.

Today’s best junk call was “your drugs and cash have been confiscated at the border. Please press 1 to speak with a customs agent.” Mt. Aetna in Italy and Kilauea in Hawaii both erupted this week. The “Christmas Star” – the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn which last occurred 800 years ago – will be at its peak tonight but obscured by clouds, rain and the first snowfall of the year. I hope to see it tomorrow, one hour after sunset if the sky clears.

December 22, 2020 – Twitter finally steps up, a study on solitary confinement

  • US cases 18,217,159 (205,660 new) / deaths 322,484 (3,300 died today)

The best news of the day is Twitter announcing that they will start removing Trump’s incendiary and false narrative tweets rather than just flagging them. I’m hoping the next step is shutting his account altogether. Trump hasn’t been seen in public for a week.

The stimulus / survival package still waits for Trumps signature but checks are going to a lot of people who don’t need it, and the bill is full of non-COVID-19 related pork which is making Trump unhappy. He wants $2,000 checks instead of $600. There is no funding for state and local governments because McConnell has deemed that aid to be fiscally irresponsible. Never mind that the federal government booted all the costs for PPE and vaccinations to the state level…!

Vaccines are not expected to be widely available now until May/June. COVID-19 is expected to shorten life spans by about 3 years. (The 1918 pandemic shortened life spans by 11.5 years.)

Studies are now showing that isolation, lack of structure and lack of external stimulation are fueling depression and cognitive decline, which increases the risk of heart disease (among other things). Suicide rate among young adults has increased by 18%. Sudden frailty in nursing home residents is showing up in weeks rather than months due to people being locked into their rooms, and cuts in things like physical therapy. We use solitary confinement in prison as a form of punishment. In nursing homes we call it “keeping people safe.” I shudder every time I think about Mom being confined to her small, white-walled room. I will always blame Trump and the GOP for letting things get this far. We expected a lockdown for 30 days, not 10 months.

I haven’t left my apartment since December 15. The day turns bright with the unexpected arrival of home baked mince tarts from Marie, and a mega bottle of Grey Goose vodka from Payne. “Drink the top half for Christmas, and the bottom half for your birthday.” After sunset, I climb the stairs to the top of a parking garage, and see the Christmas Star, hanging just above the southern horizon. A pretty good way to end the day.

December 23, 2020 – January 6 threats continue

  • The COVID-19 variant from the UK is thought to be in the US now.
  • WA State cases 227,887 (1,508 new)
  • WA State deaths 3,131 (25 new), hospitalizations 13,590

Dr. Birx announces her retirement after breaking her own COVID-19 precautions by spending the holidays out of state with her multi-generational family. Pfizer says 100 million more doses are coming by mid-summer. Operation Warp Speed announced a goal of 20 million vaccinations by December 20. Actual number is 1 million as of today.

CA now has zero ICU and acute care beds available. Regular care beds are now being set up in conference rooms and in tents in parking lots. They are also running out of oxygen tanks to send home with people in order to free up hospital beds.

WA State Ferry System is discouraging people from using it for non-essential trips due to decreased funding and sailings, which is making the ferries more crowded. COVID-19 is also impacting Seattle Metro as bus drivers fall ill. Transit between France and the UK reopen. COVID-19 in minks has now spread to 9 countries and is threatening the fur coat industry in Europe.

Trump vetoes the NDAA but has shifted his complaint from the renaming of bases bearing Confederate names, to the Section 230 internet liability issue. It contained 3% raises for military personnel and funding for military programs. What a great way for him to screw a large segment of his voter base.

He also contests many of the pieces of the stimulus / survival package that were in his own original version. The $2,000 checks were part of the Dems original budget proposal in May and they are now rushing to the House floor with this new amendment to their original proposal. The current funding for UI and COVID-19 relief (moratoriums on eviction) expire December 26. The Senate plans to reconvene December 28 to override his veto on the NDAA.

The list of bankrupted businesses now includes Papyrus, Lord & Taylor, and Forever 21. Starbucks is moving many of their stores to a take-out model. Downsizing list includes Dunkin Donuts (closing 800 stores), Walgreens (200 stores), Sears, JC Penney, Macy’s (2,000 corporate jobs), and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Trump pardons Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Jarod Kushner’s dad (tax evasion and witness tampering). Trump also pardons four Blackwater members (one of them sentenced to life without parole) who assassinated unarmed Iraqi citizens at a traffic circle in 2007. It is at the top of the news cycle on all channels, all day and was the 2nd largest FBI investigation since 9/11. He also seems to be moving closer to war with Iran and continues to hint at martial law. Barr departs his office today.

Trump supporters plan a rally in DC on January 6 and talk about smuggling guns into DC where it is illegal to carry, even if you are licensed to do so in your own state.

December 24, 2020 – Christmas Eve

  • US cases 18,650,454 (433,295 since December 22)
  • US deaths 329,093 (6,508 since December 22, average 3,254 per day)
  • At this rate the estimated death toll by end of year is 341,263.
  • UW forecast is 400,000 by end of 2020, and 567,000 by April with current mandates in place, 731,000 deaths if mandates are relaxed.
  • CA has reached 2 million cases, 1 out of every 20 Californians are now infected.

Trump has now vetoed both the NDAA and COVID-19 relief spending bills. House GOPers are blocking votes on the $2,000 checks, which can shut down the government entirely on Monday. Trump leaves for Mar-a-Lago, staff speculate he might not return. He’s mad at Pence, who refuses to tilt the January 6 certification in Trump’s favor.

BREXIT trade deal passes, but I think the UK is still screwed. It’s the worst mess outside of the US.

This weekend’s projects include a very overdue Crow Cap, a blue silk Venetian, Charlie’s prototypes, and the third piece of Kate’s new ensemble. And probably some writing as I expect to get very little sleep from the activity of the Roman Legion and their herd of dogs as they embark on campaign upstairs. Another wave of depression hits, so I shut off the news, read some magazines, pour a drink and cuddle the cats. I find some amusement in January 6 being both Electoral College Certification Day, and Epiphany. How ironic.

December 25, 2020 – Christmas Day

  • Global cases 79,802,494 / deaths 1,749,995
  • US cases 18,756,239 / deaths 330,244 (1,151 died today)
  • A person in Los Angeles County dies every 10 minutes.

Went to bed at midnight and woke up at 4 AM, with the twinkle lights still on and both cats snuggled into my chest, under the covers and side by side – a thing they’ve never done before. I get up, less depressed than yesterday.

A choir, socially distanced and wearing hard hats and ‘boiler suits’ (what the UK calls coveralls) sings today in the Notre Dame Cathedral to an audience of no one. A bomb in Nashville destroys several buildings, injures 3 and kills 1.

I work on blogs today – a pictorial year in review for August Phoenix Hats. I think my project list is not commensurate with my energy level. But after a 2 hour nap, I get the kitchen clean and commence with creative time. I start lining up immersive projects to replace my doom-scrolling, including Director’s Cuts of my early travel blogs.

Christmas dinner is moussaka, with shrimp instead of ground turkey, and squash pie which fills my entire house with the scent of spice. I use up many of my “last-of’s” including cloves, allspice, salt, ayran and fig jam. I’m now trying to figure out how to use the cucumbers that Imperfect Foods sent, labeled as zucchini.

December 26, 2020 – Boxing Day

  • Global cases 80,355,175 / deaths 1,757,665
  • US cases 18,985,148 (228,918 new) / deaths 331,916 (1,672 died today).
  • We account for 1/5 of global deaths
  • WA State cases 236,719 (3,645 new) / hospitalizations 14,096

I woke up at 4 AM again, and again at 6, and finally get up at 8:30. I’m not feeling productive today so I scale my plans down to mask making and year-end donations. I donate my next Imperfect Food box to a food bank in Portland, and my donation from recent hat sales to CORE to help fund vaccine distribution.

Payne picks me up at 4 PM for dinner and movies at his house. Wonder Woman 1984 is OK but does not live up to the hype. Shazam is surprisingly good. Marie plays the first scene from Mandalorian so I can see Baby Yoda. The helmets are strikingly Spartan.

Today’s astrological forecast: “the current planetary alignment last occurred during the Black death in the 14th century, and again in 1918. Do not hang on to old ways. Social equality will be a major focus in 2021.”

December 27, 2020

  • COVID-19 US cases 19,111,443 (126,298 new)
  • Deaths 333,069 (1,150 died as of 6 PM today)

Today is the last of four mostly unproductive days, which makes me really sad. It’s stunning how little creative work I can get done in so much free time.

Trump signs the stimulus / survival bill tonight (the original not the $2,000 version), after his advisors told him to sign it “as is” to avoid a government shutdown, and to negotiate additional legislation for the $2,000 checks. He sends a red-lined version back to Congress under the Impoundment Control Act which allows him to rescind specific programs from the budget. The delay in signing has caused everyone on UI to lose a week of benefits that they won’t be able to recover. Reuters later reports that the changes Trump has requested will not be made before he steps down from office. Most Republicans won’t acquiesce to his request because they’ve already voted on the bill. McConnell makes zero promises on Trumps’s red line items.

I’ve gained 15 pounds this year. I’m back to stress eating, not enough walking, and too much computer time on weekends. I almost get run over today by a black pickup who slams on their brakes 3 feet from me as I cross Aurora on the walk signal. The new year carries forward the stresses and anxieties from the last. Payne and I express thanks for still having paychecks and health insurance. I cannot fathom being on the other side of that line while Trump continues to refuse to sign any funding bill. Payne sees an uptick in violence over the coming months.

December 28, 2020

  • COVID-19 Global case 81,278,435
  • US cases 19,301,669 (190,226 new) / deaths 334,836 (1,767 died today)
  • One in 17 Americans are now infected, 1 in 1,000 cases dies. The next closest mortality rate is India with 1 per 9,365 cases.
  • The UK variant isn’t more lethal but is 70% more infectious. It’s now in 12 countries.

The 1st non-medical staff recipient of a vaccine in WA State is a resident at the Life Center in Kirkland, 303 days after the first death was reported there. Vaccine distribution is much slower than expected at both state and federal levels, Trump promised 20 million but only 2 million have been delivered. We are missing our monthly vaccination targets by a long shot (about 1% of goal) and we’re back to estimating that the general public will get vaccines in Q3 2021. Doctors are reporting that their hospitals are in really bad shape today.

WA State Gov. Inslee extends moratorium on evictions through March 2021 and provides a 1-time stop-gap UI benefit to cover the week that was lost at the Federal level. The House passes their $2,000 relief bill and an NDAA veto override and send both to the Senate. Now we wait.

Metro on Twitter announces 65-70 buses that aren’t running this morning, which I think is higher than normal. Another 33 are canceled by 1 PM.

House GOPers threaten to sue Pence “to find that he is authorized to choose pro-Trump electors on January 6.” Which is not at all how any of this works. More Illiterati.

I’m really beating myself up today over my lack of progress over a normally highly productive Christmas break. I think I’m starting to mourn a year lost. I have a very short attention span today and keep catching myself just staring off into space.

December 29, 2020 – More Militia Plans

  • US cases 19,996,928 (255,259 new) / deaths 338,561 (3,725 died today)
  • The UK variant B.1.1.7 is discovered in Colorado today.

I wake up at 9:30 and struggle to pull myself out of bed. I’m running a low-grade fever. I’m being more selective about the news I read and ignore it altogether every other day. My bird feeders are covered with dozens of hungry little birds. It cracks me up that the cats ignore their feeding frenzies, preferring to nap in front of the window instead.

Metro reports 46 bus cancelations this morning, 25 more at 2 PM, some of those are for multiple runs (but no full route cancellations). NPR reports 3 million kids have dropped out of school nation-wide as of today.

Holiday air travel was a third of normal but the 84.5 million (total for all transit forms) who did travel is still problematic. A few COVID-19 survivors are now experiencing psychotic episodes without having a history of mental illness. IMHO not enough attention has been paid to the long term effects of this virus and the stress it will put on our economy and health care systems.

The Washington State 3%ers – a right wing militia group – plans to occupy the WA State capitol on January 10 to dispute the constitutionality of lawmakers meeting remotely. During a Pandemic. What Is Wrong With People! This first meeting of the 2021 Legislative session will be streamed live on TVW which is a publicly accessible station.

As predicted, McConnell blocks the Senate vote on the $2,000 relief checks.

Pierre Cardin died today, age 98. Thomas Becket, my favorite saint, was murdered 850 years ago today.

December 30, 2020

  • US cases 19,737,188 (180,260 new) / deaths 342,259 (3,698 died today)
  • WA State corrected case count is 242,330 including 200 previously unreported
  • WA State deaths 3420, hospitalizations 14,571
  • COVID-19 was discovered in Wuhan China 1 year ago today.
  • WA State restrictions are now extended to January 11.

Uber rises its prices 25% as a result of Seattle passing a minimum wage law for ride-hail drivers.

Trump leaves Mar-a-Lago before his New Year party to return to the White House. Chatter continues about Iran. An adult needs to secure the nuclear football. Pence has told Trump that he cannot reverse the results of the Electoral College, and Pence’s trip to the Middle East and the EU after January 6 are now postponed.

Times Square in NYC will be closed to the public for the 1st time since 1907. The ball drop will be televised, and performers will perform from remote locations. Seattle’s Space Needle show will also be virtual this year.

December 31, 2020 – New Years Eve

  • Global cases 83,342,708 / deaths 1,815,963
  • US cases 19,943,695 / deaths 345,271

WA State has received 500,000 vaccine doses but has only administered 10,000 due to logistical issues. Rate of delivery needs to be sharply increased to head off the maelstrom that is expected when the holiday cases peak 2-3 weeks from now. Only 2.6 million Americans have been vaccinated out of a population of about 331 million. People need to remember that the 1918 pandemic didn’t end until 1920.

More talk about Iran, coming out of Iran. January 3 is the anniversary of General Suleimani’s murder. Trump tweets veiled threats which puts me on edge. Declaring war will not change the results of the election, or postpone the inauguration.

BREXIT begins tomorrow and is going to isolate the UK in some pretty ugly ways. Restrictions on travel for medical issues, pet travel, work/study now need passports, work visas are now required, and trade/commerce with the rest of Europe will require stacks of documentation. It’s an exercise in short-sightedness.

I cannot wait for this year to be over, which is irrational since 2021 is going to be more of the same for several months. I forgo my ritual of cleaning house and taking out every scrap of trash before midnight because that ritual seems meaningless this year.

My project list is the sequel to last weekend, with added focus on how I want to spend my next 10-20 years. After watching Joseph James@UW on Youtube talk about time capsules: “it’s the last day of the hardest year that most of us will ever experience,” I decide to make one of my own. It’s in a white box in a closet, for whoever gets to clean out my house after I have left this mortal coil…

A police blotter report of violence right across the street from my apartment, though I don’t see cars or hear sirens. My year ends with me in bed, curling up with both cats, the three of us watching the laser show at the Space Needle, again and again until 2 AM.

Published by augustphoenixhats

I'm a self taught hat maker, working in rescued textiles and found objects. My designs are inspired by my travels and historical studies. Learn more about me and my hats at https://augustphoenixhats.com/.

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