My Pandemic Year II: March 2021

Monday, March 1, 2021

  • US cases 28,659,784 / deaths 514,333
  • 50.7 million of us are now vaccinated / 7.7% of the population have both doses
  • CNN reports that vaccine distribution is expected to be 130 million doses by the end of March, 220 million by the end of May, 400 million by the end of July.
  • I’m no longer tracking case and death counts on weekends, so I’m only offering totals Tuesday – Friday.

I’ve been pretty productive 2 days in a row. It feels weird to be so efficient and have time on my hands that used to be filled with doom scrolling. Yay for reasonable news cycles.

March 2, 2021

  • US cases 28,717,558 (57,771 new) / deaths 516,476 (2,113 of us died today)
  • 500,000 people are now vaccinated in King County.
  • Our case rates are still double those in Brazil.
  • Texas and Mississippi lift their mask mandates and open businesses 100%.
  • CDC says a 4th wave is coming.

Biden forecasts that ALL adults will be able to be vaccinated by the end of May. He pushes teachers to the top of the list. Lumen Field (one of our sports stadiums) will become a mass vaccination site by mid-month. NW Hospital is now vaccinating and an elderly neighbor has received her first shot. Vicki and I are still waiting to be notified, but suspect we are on the list that got dumped a couple of weeks ago. We continue to scan several other websites for appointments.

March 3, 2021 Hybrid back to work plan emerges, threats in DC remain

  • Global cases 115,174,843 / deaths 2,559,472
  • US cases 28,786,710 (69,152 new) / deaths 518,345 (1,899 died today)
  • 52.9 million Americans are now vaccinated, 15.9% of our total population.
  • WA State cases 342,236 (799 new) / deaths 5,012 (24 new)
  • Only 10% of WA State residents have been exposed, which puts us at higher risk of infection from variants.

Less than 20% of NYC workforce has returned, vaccinination rates and school openings will be determining factors. 10% of workforce in San Francisco has returned. Utah has allowed 40% of their workforce to return but only half have come back. Hybrid work models are now being discussed, with 68% of employers and 55% of employees thinking a “FLEX model of” 3 days in the office / 2 day WFH would be the most workable solution to get people back to work.

In spite of the lifting of mask mandates in Texas, several major retail chains still require their workers to wear masks until they are vaccinated, and request that customers wear masks – Target, CVS Pharmacy, Best Buy, JC Penney, GM, Kroger, Walgreens, Macy’s, Toyota, among others.

Security is increasing in DC for possible militia plots that may occur tomorrow – March 4 is Inauguration Day as recognized by QAnon. Threats to Congress members doubled in 2020 and are up 93% in January-February 2021 compared to the same time frame in 2020. The threats are serious enough that the House voted on bills today so they can leave town tonight. Online chatter is targeting March 4 and March 6.

Pence writes an op-ed for the Daily Signal, attacking Democrats for the HR1 and S1 election overhaul bills, which Republicans say will guarantee that their party never wins another federal election. The bill includes vote-by-mail for federal elections, early voting, same day voter registration and automatic registration through the DOL (driver’s licensing). HR1 also makes political donations public.

Biden sanctions Russia over the poisoning and imprisonment of Aleksei Navalny. No word yet on sanctions on Saudi Arabia for the murder of Khashoggi.

In personal news, a knife tip that broke off in a package of frozen sausage last week (and that I thought I had trimmed away) showed up in the last swallow of my lunch, and nearly broke my tooth. I am so very lucky sometimes…

March 4, 2021

  • US cases 28,825,427 (38,717 new) / deaths 529,228 (1,883 of us died today)
  • 54 million have now been vaccinated, 16.3% of the population.
  • We are averaging 2+ million vaccines per day now vs 100,000 per day under the previous administration.
  • WA State expands vaccine eligibility. Marie is now fully vaccinated. Payne still waits for eligibility, I still search for an appointment.

The House has left DC for the rest of the week. Meanwhile, QAnon has also told their followers to stay home because “3/4/2021 is a media trap.” It’s a conspiracy within a conspiracy.

Four of Trump’s cabinet members were referred to Trump’s DOJ for corruption charges and possible criminal prosecution (Chao, Wilkie, Zinke and Acosta). It will be interesting to see what Garland does with that, now that Barr is out of the picture.

March 5, 2021

  • US cases 28,889,879 (64,452 new) / deaths 522,752 (2,524 of us died today)
  • Virginia opens 100% today.

The medical community continues to stress that the variants combined with the premature lifting of pandemic mandates will result in a 4th wave. I don’t think people are listening. The 1918 pandemic was more lethal in its second year – 2 million died worldwide, every day (55.5 million total).

What a crummy mood I’m in today. My work computer is slower than molasses and it takes me forever to accomplish the simplest of tasks. I’m having a terrible time staying focused. I’m generally resentful of the universe at large.

I’ve made zero progress on Charlie’s hats. I’m not fully happy with most of the work I’ve produced over the past 12 months, with the exception of Kate’s dress, which I scaled down significantly from my original plan. I still haven’t started the third element for that ensemble. Literally every creative project I’ve done this year, I’ve done over at least twice. I just cannot get back into my groove.

I read today about COVID-19 isolation causing ‘long term stress induced PTSD” which accounts for both the vivid dreams and procrastination that people are experiencing. “Procrastination is a way of handling stress by postponing projects and instead turning to those that are more comforting…” I could be a poster child for that.

The COVID relief package passes the Senate, after being stalled the entire day.

March 6, 2021 – I finally find a vaccine appointment

I visit the Ballard Locks for the first time ever. The locks and fish ladder viewing are were closed to the public due to pandemic restrictions, but the botanical gardens surrounding the locks were worth a walk around. I was especially taken by a China Paper Tree, with its pale, tennis-ball sized pompom flowers, and an absence of leaves. We drive around to the other side and discover a nesting area for herons, which keeps our attention for quite a while.

I finally find a vaccine appointment at a Fred Meyer in Ballard. I’m happy to find it but am alarmed that I cannot find one for Vicki – the entire appointment calendar filled in a matter of minutes. I’m also incensed that I cannot find an appointment in any of the 10 pharmacies in my more immediate neighborhood. I order an ORCA card for my impending bus commute. Payne and Marie pay a brief visit. I have another day of non-stop eating.

March 7, 2021

I’m totally amazed I didn’t gain 3 pounds overnight. I’m weirdly over-emotional and can’t pinpoint the cause. I spend the morning entering my February journal here, thinking that perhaps I am nearing the end of this project.

Vicki gets an appointment at the UW next door for next week, so we’ll get vaccinated at almost the same time after all. I check my alarm clock to see if it still works, and set it for 6:30 AM. In 2 weeks, I’ll return to my office for a couple of days a week (to start), almost 13 months after I left.

Biden issues an executive order to support voting rights, as HR1 stalls in the Senate.

I only had One Job To Do this weekend and I failed. Zero hats finished, 10 masks half finished out of the 50 I had planned to ship tomorrow. I will blame it on staring out the window for much of the day as our weather went from a monsoon rain storm, to sun, to sheet lightening and thunder, to hail, rain, wind, and sun. A whacky weather day.

Monday, March 8, 2021

  • US cases 29,044,109 / deaths 525,752
  • Cases in King County are no longer decreasing, which is a warning that variants may be taking hold.
  • COVID-19 variants may prevent WA State from achieving herd immunity.
  • A 4th wave is still expected.

The snooze button on my alarm clock no longer works. A panic attack ensues. I stay in bed an extra 15 minutes which is not a luxury I’ll have 2 weeks from now. I get up and try to address the panic issue with a list of things to look forward to at the office:

  • no lag time between emails and attachments
  • a faster computer and more consistent access to our file server
  • printing and scanning a document 5 minutes instead of 30
  • less mechanical frustration
  • a change of scenery

I plan to be back in the office on March 22. I won’t be fully immunized until April 13 – my mother’s 91st birthday. I’m glad I found appointments in Ballard but it would have been so much easier to walk right next door. I’m going to be mad forever about that.

It’s International Women’s Day. Biden’s relief package includes monthly guaranteed income for families with children (income based on per child). There’s no raise in the minimum wage but at least it’s a start.

It is reported today that Trump and Melania got vaccinated before leaving the White House. Trump announced at CPAC that everyone should get vaccinated. He had the power to press that message 2 months ago but failed to do so. In spite of that, 50% of GOP’ers continue to refuse vaccination. IMHO red states vs blue states will become the new measure of successful vaccine programs, and if death rates continue, red states might even turn blue. Perhaps some people wants to reconsider their non-vax strategy.

Five GOP senators have announced they will not run for re-election (Toomey, Shelby, Blunt, Portman, Burr). They’ve been labeled RHINOs by Trump’s base and don’t want to fight whatever he might have in store for them. I’ll never understand why the GOP continues to cater to their previous leader, when they could be making other choices.

March 9, 2021 – My first shot

  • US cases 29,099,393 (55,284 new) / deaths 527,854 (2,102 of us died today)
  • WA State reaches 2 million residents vaccinated, 10% of the population.

I wake up at 4 AM to shut off a beeping text message from OralB, who wants to advertise on my bike. But when I go back to retrieve the message, it’s gone, and there’s no record of the phone number in my call history. I now wonder if my dreams have taken a new physical dimension.

Today is my first vaccine. It’s only taken since January 13 to get to this point. I have a history of adverse reactions to vaccines, and I’m nervous today. I get jabbed at 11:30, the injection site is predictably sore immediately, with joint pain setting in 5 minutes later. I am handed a vaccine card and a flyer for VSafe – the CDC symptoms tracking website.

Since I have a history of adverse reactions, the tech asked me to sit for 30 minutes instead of 15 post-shot. I start a conversation with another woman who is waiting her 15 minutes, turns out she works at Pike Place Fish in the Market. I asked her how things were downtown, and learn that there’s a tent city in front of Kress Market (now closed), and directly across the street from my office. She said danger during the day is what it used to be at night, and you don’t want to be downtown after dark at all now.

Both the media and the medical community say that the worst is behind us and things will continue to improve if we don’t let our guard down. Vaccinated people can meet indoors maskless with others who have been vaccinated or who are at low risk (kids). Our next challenge will be in the Fall, when a resurgence is predicted.

“The pandemic has had a profound affect on society” but IMHO I don’t expect things to change much from the ore-pandemic status quo. I definitely don’t expect a ‘Renaissance” that followed the Black Plague, or a “Roaring ’20s” that followed the 1918 pandemic. There are too many political and societal issues to justify celebration in the absence of transformation, especially as the issue of inequality has found a place sharply front and center.

The Atlantic Magazine runs a story on “Grieving Our Last Good Day.” “Grief can manifest itself in anger, irritability, sleep disruption, anxiety, digestive issues…” Check, check, and check again. I’m glad I’m within the normal ranges of psychological / social impact, but it only makes the symptoms slightly easier to deal with. The article went on to stress the importance of recognizing anniversaries, even the dark ones, which I do.

Trump sends a ‘cease and desist’ letter to the GOP, telling them to stop using his name in their campaign efforts. He advises his supporters to only send money to his PAC (which he can use for whatever he wants, including his personal legal fees). The GOP pretty much laugh and toss the letter away, citing ‘free speech.’

Roger Mudd, news anchor and political reporter, dies today at age 93.

March 10, 2021 – Symptoms from my first shot

  • WA State cases 347,131 (789 new) / deaths 5,100 (23 new)
  • WA State hospitalizations 19,729 / 10.6% of the state is fully vaccinated.
  • US cases 29,150,069 (50,676 new) / deaths 529,079 (1,225 died today)
  • “Texans scramble for vaccines after governor drops mask mandate.”

My arm is still sore but the redness is gone and there’s no rash. The joints in my hand and elbow ache, and I’m more fatigued today than I expected to be. I start entering a daily report on the VSafe.gov site.

COVID-19 long haulers have now been labeled with “Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome” which includes anxiety, lower back pain, fatigue, gastro-issues, insomnia, rapid heart beat, chest pain, shortness of breathe. Symptoms present in clusters and usually occur up to 6 months later in those who were hospitalized. Now these symptoms are occurring in 1/3 of non-hospitalized people, with brain fog, memory problems and difficulty concentrating being added to the list. I remember thinking almost a year ago how no one was giving much thought to post-COVID issues and how that was going to impact our medical community and medical funding. It still isn’t getting the attention it deserves.

Brazil did not buy vaccines. Their president Bolsonaro follows the Trump play book and tells his people it’s a hoax, in spite of him having contracted COVID-19 a few months ago. He tells his people to wear masks and stop whining. They have a third as many cases and half the death rate of the US, but still…

The COVID-19 relief bill passes the House in spite of GOP opposition. Merrick Garland is confirmed as Attorney General in a vote of 70-30, five years after he was denied a hearing for a SCOTUS seat.

March 11, 2021 – A year ago today

  • US cases 29,283,988 (133,919 new) / deaths 530,713 (1,634 of us died today).
  • 64.1 million Americans are now vaccinated, 19.3% of our total population.
  • The Brazil variant was discovered in King County (Seattle area) today.

Today marks one year since I started working from home. My arm is still sore from my vaccination two days ago, and a headache is now getting much worse.

Governor Insee announces that WA State is moving into Phase 3 on March 22, allowing for 50% occupancy for indoor venues and 400 at outdoor ones, 25% capacity for stadiums. The move will be contingent on 30 or less new cases over the next 14 days and 3 or fewer hospitalizations over the next 7 days.

Lumen Field will open Saturday. It was our field hospital a year ago but was dismantled without being used. They expect to jab 22,000 over 2-3 days this week, with 600 vaccinators working per shift. Appointments are open to all WA state adults in phases 1A/1B, with most of our office staff being eligible by April 22. I hope Payne is able to get in by April 13. Variants remain a high risk as restrictions continue to be rolled back. I continue to double mask even as I see most people outside my apartment without them.

Biden plans to double our order for the J&J vaccine, which will be targeted to homeless shelters since it is a 1-shot vaccine. He also announces that all adults should become eligible for vaccines by May 1, and his goal is to fully open the country by July 1, pending new variants and the [predicted] 4th wave. He encourages people to listen to Fauci.

Washington State is 27th in the nation with 19.3% vaccinated. Oregon is behind is at 32nd with 18.6%, Idaho is 44th with 17.3% vaccinated. The US average is 18.8%. We need a more efficient distribution system.

The COVID-19 relief package is intended to pump money into cities to restore depleted reserves, as well as pump money back into the general economy. The GOP still oppose the funding bill in spite of 70% public support for it.

March 12, 2021 – The Retrospective Stories Begin

  • US cases 29,343,530 (59,542 new) / deaths 532,400 (1,687 of us died today)

Today’s waking panic attack is brought to you by – – – ??? But my sewing room / office is toasty warm this morning, after having left the heat on all night. Too bad my laptop is doing nothing but spinning this morning and wasting my morning away. A cat fight erupts on my desk, my panic turns to anger and then quickly into another meltdown. Geez.

As WA State plans to reopen, NPR warns that Seattle will not be the same city we left a year ago. I am concerned about opening while vaccine appointments are still hard to find, especially in North Seattle or if you are not connected to the internet. People are dying within weeks of becoming eligible for a vaccine. I think opening March 22 is too soon.

Tim Douglas has closed the Dahlia Lounge permanently but plans to turn it into a Serious Pie (pizza). He reopened Etta’s (seafood) but is still evaluating Lola and the Palace Kitchen. All of them are iconic Seattle restaurants. The Slugger’s Bar at Safeco Field has stayed open, but the owner attributes that to the 11 other bars around him that closed, leaving him literally the only kid on the block. He has had 2 days off the entire year and sounded exhausted during today’s interview on NPR. The Cherry Street Coffee House has closed all but 4 of its 11 locations, and customers now need to be buzzed in to control crime and homeless populations.

Downtown has seen an 81% decrease in workers, and a 63% decrease in transit use. Recovery for the downtown core is expected in early 2022. I saw photos today of tents on sidewalks at Third and Seneca (a few blocks south of our office).

Today’s retrospects on the news are not doing me any favors. I’m looking back as well, at my anger over things I have lost and frustration with my lack of accomplishments and time poorly spent. I’m having really intense mood swings today about every 20 minutes, with another meltdown at 10:15 AM. I give up at noon and mark the rest of the day as vacation time. Vicki and I go for a walk, and some retail therapy at the new Home Goods, a TJ Maxx affiliate. By 4 PM I feel better but I’m deathly tired. I bully through the remaining masks, determined to accomplish just one thing today.

March 14, 2021“Don’t Look Back”

I still feel wonky this morning. A visit from Eric snaps me out of it, and I tell him of my plan to return to the office, two days a week, starting next week. I also receive an invitation to a small birthday party, which I accept. The other 5 people have been fully vaccinated and the house allows for social distancing. I plan to keep a mask on regardless.

Today’s mid-day break is a walk at the Rez and a pocket park that overlooks Golden Gardens Beach. The sound is filled with sailboats today. We keep our distance from all the young people who are not wearing masks, and stop to admire a car that is being bejeweled in well done paisley patterns over the doors. I ask the artist about it, and she says it’s her COVID year project. I told her it was great, and that I was jealous of her ability to produce art. When I told her I was a hatmaker, she said she had a lot of textile artist friends with similar complaints to mine. “Don’t beat yourself up over a year lost.” I was reminded of my favorite Turkish proverb: “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.”

I’ve felt on the edge of a heart attack most of the day, except when I’m out of the apartment. My symptoms seem to be worse in the living room so I wonder if there’s some sort of toxin. The upstairs neighbor and her dogs seem to have moved out. The quiet is deafening.

Late in the evening, I gash my finger on a broken sewing machine needle, the 6th needle I’ve broken in the last 24 hours, including one that snapped and Did Not Fly into My Eye. Finishing the final mask, I condense my boxes of linens and stow my brocades and mask-making supplies away. Kate’s dress and another project move onto my priority project’s shelf. It feels like turning a page.

March 15, 2021 – A Toxic Find

I still don’t feel great. I’ve been lightheaded for 6-7 days now and a heavy chest which lightens up once I start to walk around. I gained 3 pounds overnight. I discover later this morning that the chair I spend my weekends in, has mildewed. The thing I am most allergic to in the world is mold, it affects me like a neurotoxin… so the cushion comes off and gets doused with spray bleach, and I move my office chair into the living room. I plan to move the big bentwood chair with its poisonous cushion to the curb late some night. And now I have a use for my office chair once I’m no longer WFH.

Another severe chest episode occurs this evening, just as I’m finishing a hat order. I can breathe just fine but the pressure spooks me enough that I prepare the hats and masks for shipping and leave everything lined up and clearly labeled on my ironing board, in case I don’t wake up tomorrow. GAH!

Monday, March 15, 2021 – Deb Haaland

  • WA State cases 349,425 (906 new) / total deaths are now at 5,123
  • US cases 29,494,095 / deaths 535,608
  • 71.1 million Americans have now been vaccinated, 21.4% of the total population
  • Global cases 120,187,100 / deaths 2,659,913
  • AstraZeneca vaccine shots are halted after it is discovered to cause blood clots.
  • A 3rd wave hits Europe, Italy goes back onto lockdown today.

I wake up late, with the same panic attack I went to bed with. An hour later I’m still waiting for my computer to finish its reboot. I brew some Tension Tamer tea to see if that will cut through this absurd wall of anxiety, and bag the cushion and move it to my shed.

A frat party at Duke University results in 180 COVID-19 positive tests, 200 students in isolation and 14,000 students in a 7 day quarantine. Those who did not attend the frat party are not amused.

A march in Seattle last night to commemorate the 1st anniversary of Breona Taylor’s murder resulted in 13 arrests and the temporary closure of the ferry terminal when protestors blocked the road with construction signs. A Starbucks at 2nd and Lenora and a store on 6th & Pine were also vandalized.

Deb Haaland became Secretary of the Interior in a vote of 51-40 at 4 PM today, and the first Native American to serve in a cabinet position.

March 16, 2021Pandemic Lessons Learned from the NYT

  • WA State cases 351,109 (654 new) / deaths 5,149 (14 new)
  • About 12% of our state is fully vaccinated.
  • US cases 29,551,691 (57,596 new) / deaths 536,980 (1,372 of us died today)
  • Moderna starts testing in children under the age of 16.

It is reported today that the EU negotiated a discount on the Pfizer vaccine to $15/dose, putting them behind the US who paid $20/dose and Israel who paid $35/dose. The countries who paid the most, get theirs first and are starting to recover. The EU also has a problem with anti-vaxxers. In China, 89% of the population will get jabbed, the US 75%. Germany 68%, France 59%, Poland 56%. Recovery is tied to the number of people who get vaccinated in any given location.

In the US, vaccine availability is increasing in areas where GOP’ers are not willing to get vaccinated. An increase in air travel and Spring Break opens the potential for another surge in cases.

The New York Times publishes a list of lessons learned:

  • Prepare for what you cannot see.
  • Put Science First.
  • Prioritize treatment and vaccine allocation.
  • The Feds – not the states – should be responsible for issuing mandates and the distribution of vaccines and PPE.
  • Clarify the messaging. It should come from one office, not a patchwork of jurisdictions.
  • Invest in public health.
  • Don’t treat certain ages and ethnicities as expendable.
  • Kids need structure and some social interaction in order to thrive.

Retirees who are looking for vaccine appointments for other people, compare the process to a gambling addiction (I noticed this when I was searching for an appointment for Vicki). There are too many barriers. The process can take an entire day or night. And once you find an appointment, you have to find a way to get there. The entire system was set up for the tech-saavy, mobility-abled, time on their hands population. It’s really pissing me off.

Seattle tentatively plans to reopen pre-school and elementary schools by March 29. Seattle expands its eviction moratorium to June 30.

Yaphet Kotto died today, age 81.

A Stellar Jay and a Flicker have joined the fray at the bird feeder. I have not seen the woodpecker for awhile now, sadly. My cats only warble at birds half their size now, anything smaller barely holds their attention.

March 17, 2021 – St. Patrick’s Day

  • US cases 29,605,519 (53,828 new) / deaths 538,052 (1,072 of us died today)

Virginia Mason invites me to make an appointment, the 1st to notify me from the 5 waiting lists I’m on. I hop on to the PhaseFinder Tool to see if Payne qualifies, which he still does not, else wise I would have passed this invite on to him. Long hauler symptoms seem to be easing after being vaccinated, science doesn’t know why, but that could be very good news for long haulers.

James Levine, conductor for the Met Opera and the Boston Symphony, died at age 77. He died on March 9 but it was not announced until today.

I feel better today for the first time in several days. Vicki and I take 3 laps around the Rez after I get back from the UPS, and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day later in the evening with a bottle of Baileys and stories in my kitchen.

March 18, 2021

  • US cases 29,665,202 (59,683 new) / deaths 539,663 (1,611 of us died today).
  • 22% of Americans are fully vaccinated.

Aplets & Cotlets closes after 101 years in business.

Six Asian women were among the 8 people shot to death last night by a 21 year old white guy who went on a rampage at 3 spas. Fingers point to Trump with his “China Virus” vitriol. Blacks and Asians now stand in solidarity against racial violence. The gun control conversations re-emerge once again.

March 19, 2021

  • Global cases 122,273,067 / deaths 2,701,213
  • Vaccines will open in WA State for ages 60+ by the end of March
  • Schools K-12 are approved to seat students 3′ apart instead of 6′. Middle and High schools remain at the 6′ mandate.

WA State is still receiving 110,000 fewer vaccine doses per week than expected. We expect 600,000 doses per week in April, but we’re still racing against variants and a 4th wave of COVID-19.

Of the women who were killed in the Asian Spa attacks yesterday, all but one were over the age of 44, and five were over the age of 50. The shooter blames a sex addiction as his motive. The white male police officer who headed up the news conference, said the shooter “had a very bad day” which prompted his removal as the spokesperson for this case. Eight other people had an even worse day and didn’t live to tell…

March 20, 2021 – A trio of celebrations

Today is the First Day of Spring, and Persian New Year, and Marie’s Venetian Birthday Party. Agnes had ordered coffee, tea, cocoa and biscuits from the Florian Cafe in Venice, and I brought Payne’s movie of their trip there. It was a very pleasant afternoon.

Borrachhini, a famous Italian bakery in South Seattle, closed its doors after 100 years. They specialized in wedding and party cakes and could not maintain their business during the lockdown.

March 21, 2021 – A Tourism Fail at South Beach

Miami’s South Beach declares an emergency and establishes an 8 PM curfew through April 12, after thousands of maskless people trashed local restaurants and engaged in street brawls. Governor DeSantis opened Florida as “an oasis of freedom” and now police go in with pepper balls to break up the ‘wall-to-wall people’ that reportedly extend for blocks. The problem isn’t even students; the crowd is mostly adults looking for lockdown release. There have been 1000 arrests since February 20, most of them from out of state. DeSantis and the Florida Tourism Board expected people to come and spend money at restaurants and local businesses but instead the crowds are just partying in the streets. I expect to see a new wave of infections in Florida around April 1.

The Lumen Field mass-vaccination site failed to take into account that Seattle is not bilingual for English-Spanish, and did not produce signage or informational flyers for the Asian languages that are predominate here (Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese). It’s a significant oversight to add to the list of barriers in getting vaccines here.

I’m unexpectedly sad today. My best laid plans to wake up at 6:30 AM for the past two weeks, fell by the wayside about 3 days in. I now expect my first two days back in the office to be harsh ones. I’ll need to pack a lunch until I can survey the scene for meal spots, and pack my laptop and files, and probably pack some patience as well. Late in the day I use a sudden energy boost to do housework, remembering how nice it is to wake up on Monday to a clean living space.

Monday, March 22, 2021 – National weight gain figures

  • Global cases 123,662,286 / deaths 2,722,156
  • The WHO reports a rise in global death rates for the first time in 6 weeks.
  • US cases 29,865,597 / deaths 542,880
  • Demand for vaccinations outpaces supply by 1 dose for every 8 people who want one.

COVID-19 cases have increased by 13% over the past two weeks in those under the age of 50, with 30% being travel-related. Los Angeles imposes a 10-day quarantine for those returning from out-of-state spring break travel.

Dr. Vin Gupta says herd immunity will be measured in deaths and hospitalizations rather than case counts. The John Hopkins dashboard still shows the trajectory at modestly upward (no plateau).

Restaurants can now reopen at 50% occupancy, but those with less than 40 seats cannot afford to open. Many restaurants are waiting until their staff are fully vaccinated. IMHO no one wants to repeat the mistake from last spring, when restaurants restocked food and bars, and retrofitted for COVID-19 compliance, and rehired staff, only to shut down again 30 days later. July is the new target date for restaurants to reopen in Seattle.

The American Psychological Association reports that the average weigh gain among adults during the past year was 29 pounds. Their chart was pretty remarkable:

  • 39% of men gained 37 lbs. / 20% of men lost 26 lbs.
  • 45% of women gained 22 lbs. / 17% of women lost 27 lbs.
  • 37% of Boomers gained 16 lbs. / 14% of Boomers lost 26 lbs.
  • 51% of parents gained 36 lbs. / 22% of parents lost 29 lbs.
  • 50% of essential workers gained 38 lbs. / 24% lost 30 lbs.

I’ve gained about 12 lbs., so once again, seeing national averages puts things in perspective and reduces my self-loathing, though I still need to get those extra pounds off soon. And those statistics for parents and essential workers is really frightening from a future American Health perspective.

Two weeks ago there was a mass shooting at 3 Asian spas. Today, 10 people died in a mass shooting in a grocery store in Boulder CO.

Georgia moves to restrict voting. It’s now easier to buy a gun than to vote there.

March 23, 2021 – My first day back in the office

  • Global cases 124,105,629
  • US cases 29,920,024 (54,427 new) / deaths 543,798 (918 of us died today)
  • 83.9 million are vaccinated, 25.3% of the total population.

My first day back was not so bad. The bus was very clean and there were only about 8 passengers. The boards have been removed from the windows of our building, though we are one of only 5 businesses still open on our street. The entire block on the opposite side of Third Avenue is shuttered, and Kress Grocery has has become a homeless encampment, tents and all. There are very few people walking around downtown, and the homeless ones seem too drugged out to be a threat. But I don’t walk on that side of the street now, and my head is on a swivel every time I leave the building.

I spent 2 hours manicuring plants, cleaning and taking stock of things. Six cases of soda expired in July. We’re nearly out of black pens and notepads. I’ve forgotten how to use the scanner function on the copier. My desktop computer and phone console went off network, rendering them useless. I’ll need to continue to haul my laptop to work until those issues get resolved. It was really nice not being tethered to a computer for 8 hours, and I ended my day with less fatigue than I expected. A coworker drove me home.

March 24, 2021

  • WA State cases 357,499 (960 new) / deaths 5,186 (3 new)
  • WA State hospitalizations 20,233
  • US cases 30,009,386 (89,362 new) / deaths 545,237 (1,439 of us died today)
  • WA State Dept. of Health is now averaging 44,165 vaccines daily
  • All adults in WA State over the age of 16 will be eligible for vaccines by May 1.

Morning arrived at 4:30 AM this morning, and signaled to the cats that it was time to play. My day in the office was very busy, taking inventory and decluttering some of the desks so I can do a deeper clean next week. My first bus ride home was an eye-opener, there were clusters of homeless tents in lots of unexpected places, including Greenlake Park.

The fencing in DC is starting to come down, although it will stay up around the main Capitol buildings. Roads will start to reopen which will make commutes there a little easier.

The 100 year old Executive Hotel in Seattle has been converted into a shelter for 140 homeless people. I hope to see more of that, given the number of vacant buildings we have downtown.

Gun control. I hope to see more of that as well. We have had 103 mass shootings in the US so far this year. We banned assault-style rifles in 1994, which led to a nearly 20% decrease in gun violence until it expired in 2004 and was not renewed by Congress. We need to renew it and expand it to include all automatic and semi-automatic guns (both pistol and rifle) as well as firearms that have been modified to be auto- or semi-auto firing. We need to ban large capacity magazines of over 10 rounds. We need universal background checks. Every civilian has the right to own a gun. No civilian needs to own a weapon that can mow down a mass of people in a matter of seconds.

March 25, 2021 – The Suez Canal is blocked

  • Global cases 125,391,735 / deaths 2,755,210
  • US cases 30,079,282 (69,896 new) / deaths 546,822 ( 1,585 of us died today)
  • 87.3 million Americans are now vaccinated, 26.3% of the total population.

A busy day that started at 7:30 AM and ended at 7 PM. Busy in the best of ways that kept me deleting news alerts from my email without even reading them.

Except for news of the cargo ship which has slipped sideways and has blocked the Suez Canal for 3 days. 150+ ships are now in a backlog queue. And Biden’s first press conference, which I listened to on NPR until I couldn’t stand the reporter’s inane questioning any longer. Media reports afterwards did NOT report what he actually said about his re-election plans, which made me really angry. No wonder people don’t trust the media.

March 26, 2021

  • Global cases 126,026,603 / deaths 2,766,824
  • US cases 30,155,046 (75,764 new) / deaths 548,067 (1,245 of us died today)
  • 89.6 million Americans have been vaccinated, 27% of the total population.
  • An oral medication to treat COVID-19 is reportedly under development.
  • King County continues to warn of a 4th wave.
  • Ebola has arrived in WA State. 14 ‘low risk’ cases reported.

WA State COVID-19 cases are not dropping, and are reportedly rising in King and Snohomish counties. People are letting their guard down and the spring break surge IMHO is probably starting to hit. COVID-19 hospitalizations are also rising in several states.

The ‘Ever Given’ is still stuck in the Suez Canal. 230 ships are now in the backlog queue. Global trade is now expected to be affected. It’s wild watching tugboats try to move a ship the size of the Empire State Building, the tugs look like VW Bugs in comparison. There’s talk about loaning cranes and supplying fodder to the 20+ ships that are hauling livestock. The dredging on each side, the potential disaster that could happen if off-loading containers at stem and stern cause stress to break the ship at center and dump its entire load into the canal.

My temper remains pretty short, and I start my weekend with zero motivation. After a 1.5 hour nap, I push myself out of bed and into the kitchen, where I convert aged fruit into a baked fruit crisp, and aging veg into a big stir fry. Rice cooked and individual helpings into the freezer. A shopping list made for the weekend. A fairly productive Friday night after all.

March 28, 2021

Syria is now rationing fuel as a result of the Suez Canal blockage, which is now on day six. the backlog now numbers 300 ships, and those who have not entered the canal are now taking the two extra week trek around the Horn of Africa. It’s a mess.

It’s a productive day, with taxes filed and an article for Mainly Museums drafted. I think my tight chest might be allergy related.

Monday, March 29, 2021

  • US cases 30,330,689 / deaths 550,003
  • WA State cases 362,385 (640 new) / deaths 5,226 (8 new)
  • 95 million have been vaccinated / 28.6% of the country’s population
  • CDC Chief Walensky warns of ‘impending doom’ as new cases rise to about 70,00 per day. She urges people to maintain precautions as states continue to lift mandates.

This morning was hard. I woke up with nausea and fatigue but still got to work on time. The elevator is out of order. There’s a black hoodie in the stairwell, and traces of drug use on our landing. Our office has been broken into again, for the 4th time in 2 years.

Half of WA State businesses have reopened. Restaurant Week will run the entire month of April and will include a “Buy a plate, donate a plate” feature which makes it pretty enticing.

The “Ever Given” is finally freed, with the aid of 10 tugboats and a high tide. The backlog is now 422 ships and is expected to take several weeks to clear.

March 30, 2021 – My second vaccine

The White House estimates that 90% of adults will qualify for vaccines by April 19, but WA State won’t meet that expectation before May 1 due to the lack of doses. We now are receiving 1 dose for every 10 people who want it. The medical community believe the 4th surge has arrived.

G. Gordon Liddy dies, age 90. My Il Divo video arrives, their concern in London with “Wicked Game” that I use as a de-stressor. My second shot was not as bad as the first, and nothing like Vicki’s wit significant issues setting in 12 hours after innoculation. I curl up with cats and Il Divo and hope for the best.

March 31, 2021

  • Global cases 128,791,500 / deaths 2,814,899
  • US cases 30,459,483 (128,794 new over the last 24 hours)
  • US deaths 552,033 (2,030 new over the last 24 hours)
  • WA State cases 364,486 (1,271 new) / deaths 5,247 (10 new)
  • 97.6 million are now vaccinated, 29.4% of the total country’s population

I wake up late, with mild pain and fatigue, and 2 pounds lighter. Insee announces that everyone over the age of 16 will be eligible for vaccination by April 15. I hope we receive enough vaccines to meet that demand.

Biden unveils his infrastructure package, which in addition to highways and bridges, also expands the internet, upgrades our electrical grid, replaces lead water pipes and addresses climate change. It’s very ambitious and looks to provide jobs like Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1933, which is credited with bringing the US out of the Great Depression.

The third mass shooting in as many weeks, this time in an office building in Orange County, CA. Four people died including a 9 year old, 2 were injured. The assailant knew his victims. “We’re returning to pre-COVID-19 norms…”

A Federal court voided Trump’s NDAs from 2016. Two police officers sue him for January 6. Investigations seem to be heating up on several legal levels.

My Pandemic Year II: February 2021

February 2, 2021 – Groundhog Day, Sir Capt. Tom Moore, Officer Sicknick

  • WA cases 314,692 / deaths 4,316
  • US cases 26,431,145 (113,620 since yesterday)
  • US deaths 446,744 (3,383 of us died today)
  • Yet another mutation has evolved that may be resistant to the vaccines. A new surge is expected.

It’s Groundhog Day today, although someone on Twitter commented that it’s been Groundhog Day every day since March 2020.

COVID-19 appointments are ridiculous; 3500 spots filled in 30 minutes at 9 AM today in Pierce County (Tacoma area). There aren’t any appointments available in North Seattle at all.

Hal Holbrook died today. Sir Capt. Tom Moore, the elder who raised $33 million by doing laps in his garden with his rocker, an action which was recognized with a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth, also died at age 100 from COVID-19. Jeff Bezos steps down as Amazon CEO and takes a seat on their executive board.

The cremated remains of Officer Sicknick lies in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, near where he lost his life on January 6. Biden met the guard at the door. Officer Sicknick will lie in honor for 12 hours, and his funeral will be paid for as a result of that honor.

Personal accounts have started to surface, mostly from the women of Congress who thought they were going to die on January 6. They were texting their husbands with the locations of their will, and hiding under their desks with baseball bats while agitators pounded on their office doors. Over 200 staffers have written a letter to the Senate, requesting that Trump be held accountable.

February 3, 2021

  • US cases 26,554,216 (123,071 new) /deaths 450,680 (3,936 of us died today)

There are no vaccines available until February 9-11 for top tier people (1A/1B) and none are expected to be available to the general public before summer/fall. The good news is that some vaccines (AstraZeneca) appear to reduce transmission as well as protect from severe symptoms, though AstraZeneca has not been approved in the US yet.

Ben Carson resigned today over the January 6 incident, apparently unaware that his term ended January 20.

February 4, 2021

  • US cases 26,676,608 (122,392 new) / deaths 455,735 (5,055 of us died today)
  • Washington State is receiving 100,000 doses per week, demand is 300,000 per week.

There’s now a shortage of garden seeds for home gardeners. It’s the worst shortage since Y2K. Demand is up 5-6 times above normal and is reportedly impacting commercial growers as well.

Canada declares the Proud Boys as a terrorist group. A Proud Boy in Auburn, WA has been arrested for leading a group into the Capitol on January 6, and faces 30 years if convicted on all charges. Marjorie Taylor Greene is removed from her committee assignments in the House, but faces NO consequences from the leadership of her party for her QAnon conspiracies and death threats against her colleagues. Meanwhile, Morgan Wallen, a country western singer, is dropped from his record label and 100 radio stations after using a racial slur off-stage. Justice continues to be off-balance.

Trump resigns from the Screen Actor’s Guild, pre-empting a potential expulsion for spreading misinformation that endangered journalists (who are members of the guild). SAG simply responded with “Thank You.” He is invited to his impeachment trial but refuses the offer. It’s not clear if he will be subpoenaed.

February 5, 2021

  • Global cases 105,346,199 / deaths 2,296,700
  • US cases 26,804,927 (128,319 new) /deaths 459,278 (3,843 of us died today)
  • One year ago today, the first COVID-19 death was documented in the US.

Johnson & Johnson applies for emergency authorization for their single dose vaccine. It’s 66% effective against severe symptoms, and I may settle for a less effective vaccine just to get ANYTHING. Though I suspect those vaccines, once approved, will go to more rural areas where the needs of the Pfizer vaccine have complicated distribution.

Winter storms are now delaying mass vaccination sites in several cities, including Kennewick, WA. The Pentagon deploys active duty troops to assist with mass vaccination sites, and 1,000 are on their way to California. Biden invokes the Defense Production Act to increase manufacture of vaccines (which should have happened months ago). Pharmacies and grocery stores are now offering vaccines but all of them in this area are booked for the entire month. Vicki and I refuse to go outside of the area for the sake of a vaccine when we live 10 minutes away from several pharmacies, and a 5 minute walk away from a UW vaccination site. We decide to wait, but are now looking at March/April, so it won’t be long.

Downtown Seattle has had an 80% drop in office space occupancy. It’s still a ghost town, except for those areas that are now homeless tent encampments (Pioneer Square and Third Avenue near Seneca). Seattle’s cruise season risks cancellation because Canada has extended the border closure due to COVID-19.

Iowa and Wisconsin repeal their mask and social distancing mandates effective on Super Bowl Sunday. I now expect those indoor parties to become the next surge of super-spreader events.

Lunacy continues in US Congress as well. Marjorie Taylor Greene says “Laser Beams From Space” is a Jewish conspiracy that started the California wildfires… she’s now insulting both McConnell and McCarthy, is happy because “committees are a waste of my time” and plans to use her time to support other far right candidates for the 2022 mid-terms.

Christopher Plummer dies, age 91.

I am sad and reminiscent today, recounting losses from this year which include the 20th anniversary of my business, and my sabbatical which will roll over into next year. I clear a dead bouquet off my desk today, and am reminded of the milestone birthdays missed this year (both mine and my mom). A sunset walk at The Rez is a treat. Sleep tonight is fitful. At 12:30 AM, both cats go nuts, fully bristled and growling and at the sewing room window in guard-dog mode. I can’t see anything but they remain tense for the next hour. I have a sense that someone else is in my apartment and feel the pressure of a hand on my shoulder around 2 AM. I can’t get back to sleep after that.

February 6, 2021

The FBI has now arrested 235 insurrectionists across 40 states, many have been arrested on minor charges, with more serious charges being added as intelligence comes in. The January 6 case now involves 56 FBI officers. The DOJ investigation may be one of the largest since 9/11. Presidents continue to receive security briefings after they leave office, but Biden requests that those briefings stop for Trump due to his erratic behavior.Fox News cancels Lou Dobbs, under pressure from the Dominion voting machine lawsuit.

Leon Spinks, the boxer who bested Muhammed Ali, dies of cancer at age 67.

Sunset is now past 5 PM, and the sky is a beautiful blend of grey with orange clouds. I should be finishing hats but turn to my Director’s Cuts of my original travelogs. I guess I need to work on something today that I know I will successfully finish.

February 7, 2021

  • US cases 27,004,716 (199,789 new)/deaths – 463,437 (4,149 since February 5)
  • 31.9 million Americans are now vaccinated, 9.6% of our population.
  • AstraZenica is found mostly ineffective against the South Africa variant and distribution has stopped there. It is not effective against mild/moderate symptoms but is still effective against severe symptoms.

George Shultz, former secretary of state, died today, age 100.

February 8, 2021

  • US cases 27,083,808 (79,092 new) / deaths 464,840 (1,403 died today)
  • WA cases 323,214 (723 new) / deaths 4,451 (35 new)
  • 32.6 million have now been vaccinated, 9.8% of the total population
  • New variants are the UK (B.1.1.7), South Africa (B.1.351) and Brazil (P.1)

25,000 shots have now been administered at 4 mass vaccination sites in Spokane, Kennewick, and Wenatchee. Amazon did 2,500 in a 2 hour stint last month. Appointments in North Seattle are still nearly impossible to find. Fauci says the vaccine supply should improve by March. He also says we will need to upgrade the current vaccines to address mutations, especially if one of them (the B.1.351) becomes dominant. If that happens, there will be a higher level of infections, but still a lower level of severe sickness and death. He does not address a potential increase in long haulers.

12 million fake 3M-N95 masks have been seized by US Customs since the start of the pandemic. 115 hospitals in Washington State have spent $5-8 million on 2 million of those masks. 3M is sending 1 million real masks to replace some of those counterfeits. Testing for COVID-19 among medical staff has found no increase in infection rates, so it was just a money-maker for the scammers.

Isolation in hospitals and WFH’ers who can now care for their parents at home has prompted a surge in “hospice at home” and an increase in COVID-19 deaths outside of hospital settings. COVID-19 has also resulted in 2.2 million people in Washington state being food insecure (about a third of our state population).

Ron White (R-VA) died today, age 67, from COVID-19. He had been hospitalized in September for lung cancer. He is the first sitting member of Congress to die of COVID-19. Luke Letlow, (R-LA) died at age 41 in December, before he could be sworn in.

Biden returns the US to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Microsoft joins the list of corporations who are suspending donations to congress members who impeded the Electoral College certification on January 6. A 6th Seattle police officer has been found to have participated in the January 6 insurrection in DC. SPD says that officers who attended the rally are OK, but any who participated in the break-in will be fired. The cost to secure the Capitol from January 6-March 15 is $438 million, just for the National Guard. Georgia DA’s office starts an inquiry into Trump’s election interference.

I am screaming mad today, as short tempered as I have ever been. Every single thing results in expletive-laced shouting. Anger at everything seems to be the new normal.

February 9, 2021 – Impeachment trial begins

  • US cases 27,189,761 (105,953 new) / deaths 468,103 (3,263 of us died today)
  • 33.3 million are now vaccinated, 10% of our population. We need 75% for herd immunity.
  • 41% of Americans now have a COVID-19 induced anxiety disorder, up from 34% in May 2020.

COVID-19 variants may now cause a 4th surge as states continue to drop their mask mandates and COVID-19 fatigue sets in. New terms include “coronaphobia” (a fear of getting COVID-19) and “coronawall” (describing January as the 13th month of 2020).

“Easter became Memorial Day became Labor Day became next year became…maybe 2022” – The Pandemic Wall

The Washington Post

Even being vaccinated, very little will change. Businesses are still closed, travel to most countries is still off-limits for Americans, precautions will remain in place to protect those not yet vaccinated, and as precaution against the variants.

Chick Corea, jazz musician, dies today, age 79.

Impeachment trial begins today, YouTube takes down the opening session as being in violation of something. I try to stay off the news, as my stress level is high today.

I have woken up the last two nights under very heavy weight – like the board and stones presses that were used to extort confessions from women during the Salem Witch Trials. I’m still feeling like someone is in my apartment. Vicki says the tenant in the apartment directly above me committed suicide before I moved in. She’s been seeing him lately as well. That probably explains the “hand on shoulder” sensation I had a few nights ago. I hope he finds his way out of the building soon. I’d like to get some sleep.

February 10, 2021

  • WA State cases 324, 706 (1,228 new) / deaths 4,603 (43 died today)
  • US cases 27,284,458 (64,697 new) / deaths 471,377 (3,274 of us died today)
  • 34.4 million have now been vaccinated, 10.4% of our population

King County launches a plan to vaccinate 70% of our population by October 2021, or early 2022, depending on vaccine supply. That timeframe is Way. Too. Long…. Vicki is up at 1 AM searching for vaccination sites but is coming up empty. Social media is full of people doing the same thing, with the same results. We’re receiving less than 30% of the vaccines we need, just for the 1A/1B (over 65 and designated front line workers).

I’m trying to steer away from impeachment trial news, but the videos the Trial Managers are presenting are pretty compelling. The GOP is going to look really bad if they don’t take some form of meaningful action (short of impeachment and conviction).

February 11, 2021 – The Dems rest their case in the impeachment trial

  • US cases 27,390,465 (106,007 new) / deaths 475,291 (3,914 of us died today)
  • Global cases – 107,767,935
  • 35.4 million Americans are vaccinated, 10.7% of our population.

It’s 2 AM. I cannot sleep. Again. So I’m watching recaps of the impeachment trial. The models presented by the impeachment management team show how physically close the mob was to congressional members and the VP and his family. The GOP were in just as much danger as their Democratic colleagues and yet they persist in treating this proceeding as a waste of their time. Unbelievable.

Thomas Caldwell, a former FBI agent and Naval Intel officer, may have organized the assault on the Capitol and trained militia groups for several weeks prior to January 6. Trump likely knew the danger Pence was in, just by the timing of his tweets and phone calls to senators. It shook a few but may not have changed enough minds. The trial is important from a historical documentation standpoint, but it is extremely frustrating to watch, knowing that the chance of a Senate conviction is near zero.

Biden promises vaccines for 300 million Americans by August 1. CNN discloses today that Trump’s doctors were considering putting him on a ventilator when he was hospitalized for COVID-19 last year. His oxygen level dropped to the low 80’s and there were infiltrates in his lungs.

Six starlings arrive at my feeder this afternoon, the first I’ve ever had. Snow starts to fall, about an inch so far, very fine, like rain. A tooth is starting to go bad, I am terrified of seeing a dentist right now. I hope I can get my first vaccine pretty soon.

The day ends with the impeachment management team resting their case, and telling the Senate that Trump remains a threat. Trump’s own lawyer says the DOJ should arrest Trump, rather than deal with this as an impeachment. Twenty GOP senators gathered on a ZOOM call today to discuss forming a new party (center-right, pro-rule of law, anti-Trump).

February 12, 2021

My submission of a NFS hat to the Gallery for the RAGS art show is accepted, but I’m declined from the active selling side. Maybe I’ll at least get some exposure from that listing. I will now stop applying to both the Bowen Awards and the RAGS shows since I’ve now been rejected from those shows as many times as I can stand.

Downtown Seattle has seen 160 businesses close due to increased violence, drug dealing and homeless living on the streets. “No one is minding the store.” It is highly unlikely that Durkin will be re-elected as mayor, if she even decides to run again.

It is reported that the mob on January 6 was within 100 feet of the aide that was carrying Pence’s nuclear football. There are safeguards in place to prevent a nuclear launch from a single football, but anyone in possession of it can share the nuclear launch codes. And yet, even that doesn’t seem to be compelling to the GOP who stand against impeachment. The Dem’s concern isn’t Trump-centric. It’s about the precedent for those who follow. “A smarter person would have succeeded,” according to Nikki Haley.

Trump’s legal team starts today, the trial is now expected to end tomorrow instead of Tuesday. Out of 16 hours of allotted time for their opening arguements, they expect to use 4-8 hours. His lawyers, Castor and Schoen remain a laughing stock ahead of their opening arguments and may or may not have viable careers afterwards. The Dems are still short of the votes they need so impeachment is expected to fail. But the GOP see this second impeachment trial as the barrier that will prevent the party from nominating Trump as their candidate in 2024. They will vote that the process is unconstitutional, and argue that the court system should take it from here. IMHO it’s a coward’s stance.

February 13, 2021 – Lunar New Year and Trump’s acquittal

I forget to harvest the COVID-19 case and death numbers today, but trends are heading downwards as people get their 2nd dose (which in turn is preventing some of us from getting our 1st dose). 37.4 million are now partially vaccinated, 11.3% of the total population. I call Walgreen’s today but give up after being put on hold. The world seems to evolve around people with unlimited time and cell phone minutes.

It’s 2 AM. Project-induced insomnia on a Friday night is at least helping me to make progress on my travel blogs. My ‘Director’s Cuts’ for Florence are nearly done. I am much calmer being tethered to my blogs instead of the news. A snow plow just came through and would have woken me up had I been in bed.

It’s very cold this morning. I used Imperfect insulation bags to cover my patio plants though I don’t know if they will be protected enough. Snow is drifting onto my patio and the freshly plowed drive / road is already covered again. At 9 AM, it’s 26 degrees, we have 6″ of snow so far. I discover thread-bare sections of my Italian Ren over-gown that I’ve been living in for the past year. I’m surprised it has taken this long to wear through.

Eugene Goodman, the Capitol police officer credited with leading the mob away from the Senate chamber on January 6, receives the Congressional Medal of Honor. The impeachment trial resumes. Herrara Beutler (R-WA) was allowed to have her statement read into the minutes, abruptly ending the Dems attempt to subpoena witnesses and documents. Greene reportedly threatened Beutler, and the GOP’s threatened to not confirm Biden’s cabinet nominations if the impeachment trial was prolonged.

At 1 PM I break away from watching the snow, and turn to watch virtual New Year via ZOOM from the Wing Luke Museum. It offered behind-the-scenes looks at where the lion heads are stored, and the kids that are being trained as the next generation of lion dancers. I was also introduced to Shishima – the Japanese version which is performed by a solo actor rather than a team, and reminded me of Kabuki. Alexa Manila did a great story about the multi-culturalism of Chinese New Year among Koreans, Japanese, Chinese and Hopi. Like Dia de los Muertos, I had watched Carnivale in Rio earlier this month, and am really enjoying the virtual festivals, especially those that I would not be able to attend else wise.

The Senate acquits Trump at 2 PM in a vote of 57-43, short of the 2/3 majority we needed. I’m now waiting for both Trump and Greene to start their targeting campaigns. McConnell delivers a speech saying that Trump was responsible for inciting the January 6 insurrection, but the issues was a constitutional technicality of voting to impeach a president who had already left office. He could have steered his party to convict, but chose not to. His oratory will not compensate for his lack of action. The Senate decided to not call witnesses because a) there was fatigue with the process, and b) people wanted to get home for Valentine’s Day. WHAT A CROCK.

February 15, 2021

  • Global cases as of 9 AM 108,969,896 / deaths 2,402,969
  • US cases 27,645,547 / deaths 485,414
  • 38.7 million vaccinated, 11.6% of the US population

WaPo reports on the historic ties between pandemics and extremism (both left and right), on a global stage. “One thing causes the other thing” list including social isolation and a need for self expression during that isolation, and a loss of confidence in institutions. All fingers point to leaders (US, Brazil especially) who labeled COVID-19 as a hoax and refused to take action to curb the spread. 2020 is being hailed as a perfect storm. “Plagues lead to apocalyptic thinking.”

Auckland is back on lockdown. Seoul is starting free testing on pets. The South African variant is now re-infecting Israel, and has been found in 32 other countries. It is still considered the most lethal variant to date. It’s something I will be mindful of the next time I make travel plans, which I expect is at least another year away.

We had 8″ of snow by noon yesterday; I have 3 times that much blocking my walkway from the wall created by the snow plow. It’s down to 3″ today but very slick. Normally I would have taken a walk, but I am so fearful of falling now that I won’t venture out until it melts completely away. I have new fears and phobias now…

The GOP continues to fracture from the impeachment trial and general state of the party post-Trump. The 9/11 Commission may now become the 1/6 Commission. The FBI and DOJ are starting investigations into Trump, as well as several state AG’s. Media reports that he will be facing court cases for the rest of his life.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is now confirmed as the 1st woman, 1st black woman, and 1st US citizen to lead the WTO. That’s a pretty big deal.

February 16, 2021

  • US cases 27,753,823 (108,276 new) / deaths 487,927 (2,513 died today)
  • WA State 890,282 are vaccinated, 3.9% are fully vaccinated (both shots).
  • WaPo says we are months away from getting a 1A /1B elders vaccinated. 39.9 million are vaccinated, 12% of the total population BUT only 4.6% have both shots.

SeaTac Airport received a foot of snow over the weekend, breaking a 52-year record. A salmonella outbreak in the wild bird population results in a request to take feeders down, or to clean them with bleach. I will clean mine rather than taking feeders down during the snowstorm.

Nordstrom lost 9 display windows last night valued at $50-70,000 each, destroyed by some crazy person with a hammer whom they have not caught. It will be blamed on the nightly BLM marches which still continue through the downtown core.

In today’s science news, 1-3 cups of coffee a day can reduce the chance of heart failure. Good news for me! The American Society for Testing and Materials publishes their first national standard for consumer face masks. ELEVEN MONTHS into this pandemic. We are now instructed to look for “ASTM F3502” labels. I continue to double-up with a surgical mask under my 3 layer cloth ones, and still mostly don’t leave my house.

My new phobias have names: “FORO – a fear of running out.” “Physiopedia – a fear of falling while walking.” I feel like I’m 100 years old. The timeline for vaccine availability keeps shifting. Fauci says May/June, Biden says end of July with a return to ‘mostly normal’ by Christmas. I still cannot get an appointment, nor a call back from any of the 5 wait-lists I’m now on. In addition to new phobias, I also have vaccine envy, and have stopped checking Facebook. I have zero bandwidth for most social things right now.

February 17, 2021

  • WA State cases 329,746 (579 new) / deaths 4,704 (34 died in the state today)
  • US cases 27,824,608 (70,785 new) / deaths 490,444 (2,517 of us died today)
  • 41.4 million vaccinated, 34% partial, 12.5% total. About 290 million more to go.
  • There are now 9 cases of the UK variant in King County.
  • Vaccines are now thought to limit the spread of variants, so the race is on…

Someone finally developed an “Open Table” style of vaccine locator, though it looks the same as the WA State version and there are still zero vaccines in North Seattle. My doctor’s office is now putting patient names into a random generator as the most equitable way to distribute their limited vaccine supply.

WaPo reports millions of jobs are not returning because of changes to business models as a result of the pandemic – more people WFH, and there is less travel and more automation. Bill Gates says 1/2 of business travel and 30% of days worked in physical offices, won’t ever come back. McKinsey Global Institute says 20% of global travel is gone due to WFH orders and virtual meetings, which has affected the HRI sector and some factories.

Texas winter storms have killed 14 people and Colorado City has been without power for 24 hours and 3.3 million Texans have no power. Pipes are bursting and are now flooding homes. Water mains have blown out so there’s no water and people are hauling buckets of snow in order to flush their toilets. People are also being told to boil what water they have, I wonder how you do that when you don’t have power. Maybe on BBQs if your propane tank hasn’t run out? As usual, poor people are hit the hardest. Zoos in affected states are seeing significant animal deaths.

The Texas power grid has frozen and even their alternative energy sources aren’t working. They are separate from the national power grid because they don’t want to be subject to “big government.” Their city mayor (Boyd?) resigns after telling people to fend for themselves, and that “lazy people are a product of socialist government.” IMHO those who are elected to govern, should actually do the job of governing.

Rush Limbaugh dies today at age 70.

5,000 National Guard remain on active duty in DC through mid-March due to QAnon chatter about March 4. I don’t know what that is yet.

February 18, 2021 – The March 4 Inauguration Theory

  • Global cases 110,286,670 / deaths 2,441,084
  • US cases 27,895,780 / deaths 493,082 (2,638 of us died today)
  • 42 million Americans are vaccinated, 34.8% of priorities, 12.8% total.

Vaccines are delayed in WA State due to winter storms in the east. Our cases are down by 19%, hospitalizations are down by 23%, but deaths are up 38% over last week. WA State case counts are still 9 times higher than our target. 11.4% of Washingtonians have received their 1st shot, 3.7% are fully vaccinated. I still cannot find a vaccine anywhere near this area and refuse to drive to another county to stand in line for a shot, twice. This is getting stupid.

Austin, TX is now evacuating 300 critical care patients from hospitals due to the water shortage. People are now burning their fences and their kids wooden toys in an effort to stay warm. Their death toll is now 47. The state power grid was reportedly ‘within minutes’ of catastrophic failure. Reading the news today is like reading a script for a multiple-disaster movie.

Six Capitol police are now suspended with pay for their roles on January 6. One of them was wearing a MAGA hat and was directing the mob through the building. The March 4 conspiracy theory comes from “the sovereign citizen movement passed a secret law in 1871 which turned the US into a corporation, and as a result, all presidents beyond Ulysses S. Grant (who was inaugurated March 4) are illegitimate.” This “SovCit” group does not address why Trump would be immune from that ruling. March 4 is reputedly when Trump will become the legitimate 19th president. Trump Hotel in DC has tripled their room rates for March 3-4, though no other downtown property has done so. Some media sources are suggesting that the GOP senators who requested the fencing be removed from around the Capitol before that date, are part of this plan.

Perseverence Rover lands on Mars today.

February 19, 2021

  • US cases 28,004,311 (108,531 new) / deaths – 495,693 (2,611 of us died today)
  • 42.3 million now vaccinated, 12.7% of total population

Selected GOP state legislations are trying to pass legislation to suppress voting in order to placate Trump supporters. Yet another assault on American democracy but this time at the state level.

February 21, 2021 – 500,000 makes headlines, as do the OathKeepers

The COVID-19 fatality number is at the top of every newspaper. It’s more people than are buried at Arlington Cemetery although we actually passed that number (93,000) at noon on January 19. We’re not at 500,000 yet according to the John’s Hopkins website, but it’s still a grim reminder of where we are, and a dark way to start a Sunday morning. CNN forecasts another 60,000 deaths by June 1. Variant B.1.1.7 will dominate by March and cases are expected to increase again by April. There’s now chatter that we won’t reach herd immunity before winter, and maybe people should skip the second dose to make more vaccine available to the rest of us. I wonder how we are going to handle this now that it probably needs to be an annual vaccine.

Fauci says we may need to wear masks into 2022, but that a significant degree of normalcy will return by the end of this year. I wish I was so optimistic. Vaccine distribution is reportedly ramping up, but I still get really mad every time I walk by the UW at NW Hospital and see their “Vaccines Here” signs and I STILL cannot get onto their wait list. I’ve tried 5 times. The vaccine trackers are still showing zero availability in this area. It should not be this difficult.

It’s John Lewis’ birthday today, and the anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X.

OathKeepers, led by Jessica Watkins, a vet from the Afghan War, were reportedly hired as security for the speakers at Trump’s rally on the Ellipse January 6. They were under the impression that Trump was going to invoke the Insurrection Act to use the military to overturn a fraudulent election and that they would have a role in that. They were “the stack” of militia that marched in formation up the stairs to the Capitol that day. Their court defense is that they were ‘following legal orders.” They claim “tens of thousands” of members from both present and former law enforcement and military; anti-gov radicals who claim to be protecting the Constitution against a government who is stripping Americans from their liberties.

Texans now suffer from Arctic cold, water shortages, flooded homes, and now electrical bills between $3-7,000. I should be grateful for my condition. I don’t have any of these problems and yet I am constantly stressed, depressed and under-motivated. I need to find my discipline soon. Vicki comments on how productive I am but I’m nowhere near my normal level and haven’t been for months. Everything moves at a snail’s pace.

I keep forgetting to do routine things like pay bills and balance my checkbook. Walking usually makes me feel better, but not today. I make progress on a hat order, and end my night reading obits for kids lost to COVID-19 on the eve of 500,000.

“Time does not heal. It just teaches you how to handle the pain.”

February 22, 2021We pass 500,000 at 1:45 PM

  • At 9 AM the death count is 499,209
  • At 1:45 PM we reach 500, 071
  • US cases are now 28,185,469
  • Global cases are now 111,697,446
  • WA state gained 509 new cases and lost 35 people today.

Biden hosts a candle ceremony and a moment of silence tonight at sundown (5:44 PM Pacific), to honor the 500,000. He orders flags to be flown at half-mast over federal buildings for the next five days. He delivers 10 minutes of remarks before stepping out to the front of the White House, which is illuminated with 500 candles lining the steps, balcony and portico. President and Dr. Jill, Harris and First Husband are all in black. I shut off the sound when the military band starts to play Amazing Grace. It’s 3:30 here and I take the rest of the day off because I cannot stop crying.

Trump’s taxes are released after he loses his final court appeal. He has lost every case twice, at every level including SCOTUS, who released a one sentence order declining his last appeal. The NYC Manhattan DA will proceed with their grand jury investigation into tax fraud and other charges, some of which are reported to be felonies. Trump is really peeved, especially given that 1/3 of the justices who ruled against him, were the ones he hand-picked to be there. Not one of them dissented.

I light five luminaries on the empty chair on my patio at sunset. I finally stop crying about an hour later. I try watching the news but even the newscasters are breaking down. I input blogs until midnight. The ‘hood is really noisy tonight with yelling and sirens. I expect another short and sleepless night.

February 23, 2021

  • US cases 28,259,488 (74,019 new) / deaths – 502,594 (2,418 of us died today)
  • 44.5 million are now vaccinated, 13.4% of our total population.

Cumulative loss. It’s the two staff who have left the firm. It’s Mom. It’s the 500,000. It’s nearing a full year lost. It’s recognizing how being mostly confined to my 750 sq/ft apartment with limited options on outside activities has altered my general outlook. I understand now the changes I watched Mom go through in the 18 months she was in a nursing home, morphing from sunny, to angry, to resignation. In her last 2 months, it was hard to convince her to even leave the building. A rocky morning finally develops into a reasonable day. I get out for an hour-long walk. It’s snowing in Everett.

The South African variant B.1.135 arrives in King County. It is not more lethal but is not as responsive to current vaccines. I try again to find an appointment but give up after an hour. The vaccine finder is really misleading, and clicking on the “Vaccine available” button lands you on a “sorry, no vaccines here” page. Vicki looks for hours inn the middle of the night. We are both tired of looking and will just ride things out until there’s so much vaccine that they can’t find enough people to give it to.

February 24, 2021

  • US cases 28,335,264 (75,776 new) / deaths 505,803 (2,909 of us died today)
  • In spite of cases being down, trajectory on the Hopkins website remains slightly up for both cases and deaths in the US.

Congress holds a candle lighting ceremony today on the steps of the Capitol to honor the 500,000 we have lost to COVID-19.

Biden lifts Seattle’s “anarchistic jurisdiction” label. Mayor Durkin says: [We] no longer have to face the insanity of a president who governs by Twitter or political threats.” Biden also adds 3 members to the USPS Board of Directors in a move to fire LeJoy. Mail is still taking twice as long as normal, and Chicago reports no mail service at all for 3 week stretches. Biden is also addressing gaps in our supply chain to reduce our dependence on China.

February 25, 2021

  • WA State cases 337,653 (1117 new) / deaths 4,942 (30 new)
  • WA hospitalizations 19,224 (an increase of about 3,000)
  • Seattle remains in Phase B for the next 2 weeks.
  • US cases 28,410,917 (75,653 new) / deaths 508,127 (2,324 of us died today)

Vicki and I stop by a QFC to talk to a pharmacist after having zero success by phone. “No vaccines are available for 1st doses for the next 2 weeks. The best times to check are Sunday and Monday morning, starting the 2nd week of March.” OK then. At least that’s a starting point.

Europe braces for a 3rd surge as COVID-19 deaths decline but infection rates start to rise again. Variants are in the US and vaccination efforts are still stalled due to bad weather and hiccups in manufacture.

The White House releases a report which places the blame for the Khashoggi murder squarely on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Biden is only speaking to the King regarding the matter. I what, if anything, comes of it.

The Senate and House are now deeply divided and distrustful of each other over the January 6 insurrection. The floors evolve into shouting matches and revenge calls for full votes on lesser consequential bills.

“I look forward to rebuilding a relationship, but also a legitimate conservative party instead of the batshit crazy fascist conspiracy theory [group] that too much of the GOP and conservative movement have become.”

Adam Smith (D-WA)

There’s new chatter about an assault on the Capitol during Biden’s 1st Joint Address to Congress. No date has been calendared for that yet. It is reported that 10,000 people came to the Capitol grounds on January 6, and that 800 actually broke in. The last arrest report I saw was for about 264. I’m furious every time I see the arrest numbers, or rather, the lack of them.

The US launched an air strike in Syria today.

February 28, 2021
The Jefferson Davis Highway was renamed this week to “Emancipation Highway.” NASA renamed its DC headquarters after Mary Jackson – one of the “Hidden Figures” scientists, and NASA’s 1st African American female engineer.

I finally got some things done today. It feels weird to be productive.

My Pandemic year II: January 20-31, 2021

January 20, 2021Inauguration Day, and a Brand New Year

I wear pearls today in honor of Kamala Harris, our first female VP. She is sworn in at 8:43 AM Pacific time, by Justice Sonya Sotomayer, the first Hispanic to sit on SCOTUS, on a bible that belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to sit on SCOTUS. It’s a splendid First Day.

Biden is sworn in at about 8:50 AM as the 46th President of the United States, on an open air stage behind a wall of lexan. Fireworks in my neighborhood start five minutes later. Social distancing is put aside among the major players as hugs ensue on this long awaited day.

The day is filled with so much symbolism that I can’t even capture all of it. VP Harris wears purple because it’s the color of red and blue combined. Amanda Gorman, a young black woman and the first to be named Youth National Poet Laureate, delivers a stunning work (that will be the talk of the town for weeks). First Lady Dr. Jill Biden has chosen a work by a black artist that she and the President pause in front of for a moment of reflection. They proceed to a gifting ceremony in the Rotunda that usually takes place privately at the presidential luncheon. Gifts include the flags flown over the ceremonies today, presented by Senator Mitch McConnell. Later in the day, VP Harris swears in new senators Ossoff, Warnock and Padilla as her first official act.

It was fun to see the rest of the ceremonial stuff, including “The Signing Ceremony” in The President’s Room, which is only used for Inaugurations and some State of the Union addresses. I watched docent-led video tours of other parts of the Capitol that have been rarely seen on camera, and never to visitors. Virtual celebrations have their advantages.

The license plate on the presidential limo says, simply, “46.” The new year begins, with hopes that doom scrolling and stress eating will end. I was not expecting relief to be so utterly draining.

Trump departed from Joint Base Andrews at 5 AM Pacific time, on a red carpet, with a 21 gun salute and a gathering of about 200 supporters. I watch as he and his tribe board AirForce 1 for the last time. His final acts were pardons for Steve Bannon, Lil Wayne, and 70 others, just after midnight. No family members were on the pardons list. It is reported that the Proud Boys have now disowned him out of disillusionment that martial law did not occur, and are telling their followers to not attend his future rallies.

COVID-19 vaccine shortages are resulting in cancelled appointments. Canada and the EU are having vaccine delays as well, so it must be a production problem.

  • WA cases 294,017 (2,041 new) / deaths 3,940 (no one died today!)
  • US cases 24,432,829 (186,599 new)
  • US deaths 406,001 (4,448 of us died today)
  • Global cases 96,829,359 / deaths pass a milestone at 2,073,938

Biden’s first Executive Orders start to erase the errors of the previous four years:

  • The US rejoins the Paris Accord and the WHO.
  • Institutes a mask mandate on all federal properties and intrastate transit.
  • Keystone Pipeline is revoked.
  • Drilling in the Arctic and national monuments is rolled back.
  • Construction at the Border Wall is stopped and ICE expansion is halted.
  • Muslim Ban is reversed.
  • The 1776 Commission is rescinded.
  • Executive Branch appointees must sign a pledge to uphold the independence of the Department of Justice.

I know there’s a lot of hard work ahead and that stress will probably return in some form, with renegades still sitting in Congress, and the fringe element that will always be among us. But today truly feels like a huge, collective weight has been lifted. I decide to take the night off, and return to to my projects tomorrow. I will wear pearls for the next three days.

January 21, 2021

  • US cases 24,626,884 (194,055 new)
  • US deaths 410,102 (4,101 of us died today)
  • Today is the 1st anniversary of the discovery of COVID-19 in Washington State.
  • The CDC forecasts that an additional 100,000 more of us will die in February.

Barricades in DC plan to start coming down this week. There are small, scattered protests in a few cities, including Seattle and Portland. Security in Olympia will remain in place “for the next little while.” McConnell continues with his power play in not allowing Dems to assume committee chairs in the Senate.

Today’s post-Trump news that there is no official Trump White House China Service. The process was taking too much time and money so Melania pulled the plug. She usually used the Clinton China. How utterly ironic, given how much Trump hated the Clintons.

NY upholds the lawsuit to dissolve the NRA. Parler loses their lawsuit against Amazon when a district judge rules that Parler was a threat to public safety on January 6.

And I cannot find a thing, or remember a thing, or focus on a thing. Is this post-Trump brain-dump? In spite of the happy day yesterday, I spend most of today in non-functional frustration.

January 22, 2021

  • US cases 24,817,934 (191,350 new)
  • US deaths 414,004 (3,902 of us died today)

Hank Aaron died today at age 86. He broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974.

WaPo breaks news of a coordinated effort to gas members of Congress once they were in the tunnels underneath the House and Senate chambers, and that it was organized by 3 vets (Navy, Army, Marine) who are all Oath Keepers. Just. Wow.

January 23, 2021

  • US cases 24,990,360 (172,426 new)
  • US deaths 417,382 (3,378 of us died today)
  • COVID B.1.1.7 , the UK strain, arrives in Washington State today (Snohomish County). It is now thought to be more lethal as well as more contagious.

Larry King died today, age 87, presumably from COVID-19.

We have fog this morning, after temps last night that were below freezing. Vicki and I spend 3 hours this afternoon, walking the Magnolia Bluffs and driving through Magnolia and Ballard. I spend the evening working on hats, and masks to ship to the Navajo Nation, and refrain from doomscrolling the news cycle.

I am retrospective tonight. I never allow myself to run out of things now, and wonder if I’m developing a phobia around that. I no longer beat myself up if I sleep in. I need more downtime. I’ve stopped talking to myself. My chest has stopped hurting. I haven’t been sick with respiratory issues all year, although other maladies have persisted. I plan to continue to wear a mask on the bus when I return to the office.

January 24, 2021

  • Global cases 99,177,542 / deaths 2,129,135
  • US cases 25,124,064 (133,704 new) / deaths 419,204 (1,822 died today)

A mostly uneventful day, spent making masks and hats. Impeachment is starting to look doubtful as people cool down with the passing of time, although it might also have something to do with the threats that Trump is throwing at certain senators.

January 25, 2021 – Articles of Impeachment

  • US cases 25,291,320 (167,256 new) / deaths 420,965 (1,761 died today)
  • UK, South Africa and Brazil variants are now in the US. The UK variant is now thought to be 30% more lethal.

I try to sign up online for a COVID-19 vaccine but the system fails, so I’m back in the queue for a call back. (It will be the first of numerous fails…)

Articles of Impeachment will be hand carried to the Senate at 7 PM tonight. The trial is tentative for February 8. 5,000 National Guard members will remain in DC until the trial has ended. The fencing around the Capitol might stay in place for awhile.

Champ and Major, the Biden’s dogs, arrive at the Residence today. Janet Yellen is confirmed as the first woman to lead the US Treasury. Seattle finally approves a $4/hour pay increase for grocery store workers.

January 26, 2021

  • Global cases reach a milestone of 100,243,101
  • US cases 15,437,22 (145,905 new) / deaths 425,062 (4,097 of us died today)

Job losses in 2020 were 16 million nationally, 189,000 in Washington State, where the unemployment rate is currently 7.1%

The impeachment trial is now scheduled to begin February 9. The Senate GOP try to dismiss it as unconstitutional. The Dems are joined by 5 GOP but it’s going to be a tough job to get a conviction. McConnell is against the trial in spite of his earlier stance that Trump was responsible for inciting the mob on January 6. He flip-flops as much as he ever has and is completely unpredictable.

January 27, 2021

  • US cases 25,595,302 (158,074 new) / deaths 429,157 (4,095 of us died today)
  • The Brazil variant continues to mutate and is becoming a concern to the scientific community.
  • Dr. Gupta says COVID-19 will become like the flu, and we’ll need to develop new vaccines annually to deal with it.

Our apartment building was broken into this morning around 3 AM. Locksmiths are here, repairing the damage to the door. No break-ins to apartments as far as I know, but theft of packages in the lobby continue to be an issue. I’ve lost two things now (a hat return and a blood pressure monitor) and no longer ship anything here.

DHS issues a national terrorism alert. The death toll from the January 6 insurrection now stands at 7 and includes two police officers who have died by suicide. 140 officers were injured. Several members of Congress (both Dem and GOP) now have extra security when they travel outside of DC.

January 28, 2021

  • WA cases 305,289 (1,825 new) / deaths 4,211 (44 died today)
  • US cases 25,756,796 (163,494 new) / deaths 432,971 (3,813 died today)
  • Global cases 101,409,081 / deaths 2,188,840
  • The UK variant is expected to become the dominant strain.
  • By the end of the day, the forecast is for 514,000 deaths by February 15.

Spain has run out of vaccine. Supply is not meeting demand on a global level. Most Seattle area vaccine clinics are booked through March, so it looks like I’m back to waiting until April/May in spite of being in an eligible class.

Drivers who were stranded on a Washington State pass during yesterday’s snow storm, got vaccinated by public health vaccine transporters who were also stuck. They went from car to car and offered shots until their vaccine was used up. No Shots Wasted.

Biden extends ACA enrollment from February 15-May 15, after the last administration had cut the enrollment period in half, to 6 weeks.

30,000 voters have reportedly left the GOP since January 6. Most are now independents and many of them are in swing states. They may still vote Republican, but the party affiliation may turn red states blue. Trump targets the 10 Senators who voted to allow the impeachment trial to proceed. Censure with a ban on holding office is now being discussed as an alternative to impeachment. Fencing around the Capitol Building may become a permanent fixture. There is chatter about a new insurrection on March 4, the date that conspiracy theorists believe Trump will be inaugurated according to some conspiracy theory I haven’t tracked down yet.

Cicely Tyson dies today, age 96.

I slept badly and woke up with a bloody nose and a third day of nausea. No walk today, no hats, no masks. I’m back to stress eating. It is disconcerting.

January 29, 2021Utter fail in vaccine land…

  • US cases 25,923,061 (166,265 new) / deaths 436,624 (3,653 of us died today)

An emergency release of vaccines occured in the middle of the night last night at NW Hospital / UW, AND I WAS NOT CALLED. I thought I was on their call list but apparently not. I am absolutely livid. I could have been there in 5 minutes. Vicki and I are having zero luck in landing a vaccine appointment. I’m trying to be patient, and I hesitated at first to let teachers and essential workers fill appointments. But I’m nearing 11 months of home isolation and my patience is wearing pretty thin.

News breaks about vaccines going to VIPs and shareholders, while less tech-saavy 80 year olds are being left out of the loop or being turned away from appointments they had made. The distribution systems are not working. I’m on 2 notification lists and I’m not getting called. I’m mad as hell.

Governor Inslee is allowing some businesses to reopen, but with the appearance of the UK variant and lacking a vaccination, I don’t want to go anywhere. I wonder if I’m developing another phobia. I’ve extended my online shopping to Walgreens, a delivery of batteries is due today. I flash on those Venetian elders I saw sitting at their windows, never leaving their tiny rooms. I could leave mine whenever I want, but now I’m choosing not to.

The GOP is now saying that Trump should have consequences, but that it shouldn’t be impeachment, and the Senate shouldn’t take action. They would rather SCOTUS take care of it. Never mind that this is the Senate’s job!

I’m mad at everything today.

January 30, 2021

I try again to get onto the UW wait list and hope I got onto Children’s. But you never get a confirmation so it’s hard to tell. People are cutting in line for vaccines, mostly young, and white, and wealthy, and at the lowest risk. I feel like I’m shouting into the void and I’m not the only one. This is not working and no one can understand why the vaccine appointment process is so dysfunctional.

More news comes out about how badly the PPE supply was mismanaged in early 2020. PPE was exported but not traced, including 8,000 ventilators, while US medical facilities suffered extreme shortages. I shut the news off because I’m already angry about everything else.

Mom receives a jury summons in the mail. I try to respond to it online but the King County website is broken, like pretty much everything else is today.

January 31, 2021 the blog continues…

I had thought to end this blog today, but have decided to continue recording events until I can get a vaccine, and things turn to a new normal. Whenever that may be…

Trump’s entire legal team has withdrawn. CNN reports that he wanted them to focus on his rigged election conspiracy and that they refused to do so, preferring to focus on the constitutional questions of impeaching a president after he has left office. Focusing on election fraud does not address the article of impeachment for insurrection. Later in the day, 2 new lawyers step in, with 1 week to prepare. One was working with Epstein and represented Roger Stone. It’s not a stellar cast, but the GOP plan to acquit Trump anyway, so lawyers and a trial are thought to be mostly moot.

Marjorie Taylor Greene is now being heralded as the new poster child for the GOP. Dems are trying to expel her from her committees over incendiary comments she made January 6. Trump supports her and so the GOP remain mostly silent. I wonder what Trump holds over the entire party that no one is admitting to. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in a political party in this country.

My Pandemic Year II: January 11-19, 2021

January 11, 2021A series of shut downs, and FBI warnings

  • Global cases 90,891,380 / deaths 1,944,750
  • US cases 22,613,784 (227,899 new) / deaths 376,060 (1,988 died today).
  • WA State cases 276,686 (2,214 new) / deaths were not reported today.

The House is in proforma session and Articles of Impeachment have been brought to the floor, with a vote expected tomorrow. There is historical precedent for an impeachment trial even after a person leaves office (William Belknap, Secretary of War, 1876). Speaker Pelosi has requested Pence to enact the 25th Amendment, else wise Articles of Impeachment will be presented to the Senate, who will be compelled to hold a trial, and vote to either convict or acquit.

The Senate is out and the earliest they would vote is Wednesday, which would draw a trial out beyond Trump’s past day in office. There is also talk of postponing the trial for 100 days to allow Biden to anchor his agenda. Since Trump will have left office before an impeachment trial will finish, the House goal is for conviction (followed by separate procedures in the Senate) that would ban him from holding office in the future. A conviction is a long shot since the Dems need 18 GOP Senators to cross the aisle, but the impeachment will become historic record, regardless of its outcome.

Parler is still live on the web but not accessible via smartphone apps. The site has 8 million users, a shadow of the 89 million follower that Trump had on Twitter before he was banned.

Trump’s ‘downsizing’ now include:

  • The 2022 PGA Championship withdrawn from Trump’s golf course in New Jersey.
  • The British Open withdrawn from Trump’s Turnberry golf course.
  • Twitter issues a lifetime bans him and removes 70,000 QAnon accounts.
  • YouTube takes action against false narratives and conspiracy theories.
  • Snapchat disables his account.
  • TikTok and Pinterest restrict conspiracy theory hashtags.
  • Stripe (a credit card gateway) will no longer process his campaign donations, effectively crippling his ability to continue to fundraise online.
  • Deutsche Bank is closing his accounts.

The WHO announces that herd immunity is unlikely to occur in 2021. Vaccine distribution in the US has slowed down and is affecting the economy. We ended 2020 with a -1% growth rate. We lost 140,000 jobs in December and 9.8 million jobs in 2020, with only a 56% recovery rate. Trump is the first president since Herbert Hoover to lose jobs during his first term.

At noon today, the FBI issues a nation-wide alert of plans for armed insurrections in all 50 states and DC. “All state, local and federal courthouses and administrative buildings are possible targets if Trump is removed from office before January 20.” It is now surmised that the armed insurrection at the Michigan State House and the attempted kidnapping plot against their governor was a trial run for the January 6 event in DC.

“Neo-Nazi accelerationists” is today’s new term – defined as groups trying to absorb Trump’s most militant supporters to participate in violent activities – Trump’s Civil War. “The Million Militia March” on DC is considered the sequel to “Unite The Right” in Charlottesville.

GoFundMe takes down fundraisers for travel expenses to potentially violent political events. AirBnB removes insurgents from their platform and cancels reservations for known Proud Boys. They are now trying to figure out how to identify insurgents from January 6 and ban them from making reservations for Inauguration. The Hotel Association of DC expects to have most of its rooms booked by National Guard.

January 12, 2021

  • US cases 22,837,244 (223,460 new)
  • US deaths 380,670 (4,610 of us died today)

I wake up to steady thumping upstairs. Maybe the Roman Legion is jumping rope now, or teaching aerobics. I’ve had to reboot my work laptop at least once a day since Friday. It’s super sluggish and hard to connect to both our network and the internet at large.

Representative Pramila Jayapal has contracted COVID-19 as a result of those who refused to wear masks among the 100 people who were sheltering in place during the Capitol lockdown. Pelosi institutes fines for maskless legislators on the floor of the House ($500 for the 1st offense, $2500 for the 2nd) to be deducted from their pay so they cannot charge those fines to their campaign funds. By the end of the day, five House members have tested COVID-19 positive (3 Democrats and 2 GOP).

The Trump administration releases all vaccines that were being held back as second doses. In Seattle, the Fire Department is certified as a vaccine provider and will now visit adult family homes door-to-door.

Capitol Police are now investigating 15 of their officers for their roles in that event. There is growing concern about security on January 20. Democrats call for National Guard members to be vetted if they are coming to DC from across the country. CNN adds security threats to their “Live Updates” section.

Chad Wolfe steps down at DHS after his appointment was deemed illegal. He is replaced by Pete Gaynor, #6 to hold this position in the last 4 years in spite of the White House rescinding his nomination last week. James Schmid, a GOP staffer on the House Armed Services Committee, resigns, citing “my party has put political theater ahead of the defense of the Constitution and the Republic.”

Shortly before 5 PM, Pence declines to enact the 25th, and the House passes their impeachment resolution a short time later. The NYT reports that McConnell may be amenable to impeachment because it will make it easier to purge Trump from the GOP. House Minority Leader McCarthy seems to be leaning in that direction as well. I’m now waiting for their respective walk-backs…

We’ve had 2″ of rain in the last 24 hours, with more on the way. The news is raining even harder, you could drive a truck through today’s fire hose. Unable to capture further events, I turn to the Crow Cap, which I finish after a third do-over.

January 13, 2021A Clear and Present Danger

  • US cases 23,071,894 (204,650 new)
  • US deaths 384,653 (3,983 of us died today)
  • WA State cases 281,202 (2,893 new) / deaths 3,838 (49 new)
  • WA State hospitalizations 16,080
  • Only 9 million Americans have been vaccinated so far, about 3% of the population.
  • I become eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.

We had 3.68″ of rain over the past 24 hours, with lightening and 45 mph wind. My power went out shortly after midnight and woke me up when it came back on at 3 AM. 300,000 people in Western Washington are still without power this morning.

The Feds are now telling the states to vaccinate anyone over the age of 65, while NYC reports that vaccines are running out.

Air B&B has cancelled ALL reservations in DC for next week after consultation with law enforcement. Today’s chyron on Patch (local media) reads “The Trump Insurrection.” NPR reports “every hour Trump remains in office presents a danger.”

Our state capitol in Olympia is now fenced in and National Guard will be deployed through January 20. Pence’s home near DC is also now surrounded with chain link barricades. Guard in DC are armed, and we have more troops there than we do in Afghanistan. There are armed National Guard stationed inside the Capitol Building 24/7, with many sleeping on the floor between shifts. Metal detectors are installed at the entrance to the House chamber, which some GOP are bypassing.

Members of Congress seek an investigation into why, in spite of a ban on building tours issued on January 3, there were tours on January 5, in areas of the building that only congressional members or their staff could facilitate. Ali Alexander, “Stop The Steal” organizer, said that three GOP congressmen helped with those tours – Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks and Paul Gosart. There are now questions if these were ‘recon tours’ and who supplied the insurgents with maps to the building.

Video and social media chatter confirms that the January 6 attack was planned, and that some people left the rally early to return to their cars to retrieve their weapons and other gear. “A spontaneous mob does not bring ropes and sledgehammers to a political rally.”

Charges against Trump and the other speakers at the rally may include conspiracy as well as sedition, and incitement although that will be hard to prove. For the insurgents, stealing Federal property and trespass are felonies.

Articles of Impeachment are introduced to the House Floor for debate, and at 1:30 pass with a vote of 232 that includes 10 GOP, 197 nays, 5 abstain. I forgo my 3 PM walk in order to watch the solemn but efficient “Engrossment Ceremony” where Pelosi certifies and signs the Articles of Impeachment.

“No one is above the law. President Trump is a clear and present danger. We uphold the Constitution. Sadly and with a broken heart for what this has done to our country, I now sign an “Incitement of Insurrection” Article of Impeachment.”

Speaker Pelosi

Pelosi departs with the few others without further comment. The House adjourns until January 15. Trump is now the only president in US history to have been impeached twice.

There is some concern that Trump will try to seek revenge against those House GOP who voted for impeachment. McConnell still seems to be supportive but has no plan to call the Senate back into session before January 19. The Impeachment Management Team may now want to wait until after January 20 so the Biden/Harris inauguration is not overshadowed by this trial. Pelosi will ultimately determine the date when the articles are formally delivered to the Senate.

NYC severs contracts with the Trump Organization for its operation of the ice rink and carousel in Central Park, and golf courses near the city, which nets Trump about $17 million/year. Amazon and Microsoft join the list of corporations withholding PAC donations to legislators who contested the January 6 Electoral College certification, which now includes Goldman Sachs, Coke, Ford, America Express, Morgan Chase and AT&T. The Dow Jones drops 6.3% and erases all of Trump’s economic gains.

January 14, 2021DC Clamps Down

  • US cases 23,308, 712 (236,818 new)
  • US deaths 388,529 (3,876 of us died today)
  • WA State cases 283,777 (2,729 new) / deaths 3,876 (38 died today)

The holiday COVID-19 spike has arrived. There are currently 130,000 people hospitalized across the country, and 90,000 deaths are expected over the next 3 weeks. Vaccination guidelines are widening to include teachers, but now we have a shortage of both vaccines and personnel to administer them.

A dozen major DC Metro Stations will close tomorrow through January 21. City buses in DC will be rerouted. The Park Service expects to close the National Mall on January 20.

Giuliani is one of only 2 lawyers lining up to represent Trump at his impeachment trial. But Trump has instructed his aides not to pay him, IMHO because Giuliani lost and Trump got impeached.

I am really tired and depressed today. I shut my camera off during a ZOOM meeting when I felt my face suddenly turning sad. I have zero energy at 7 PM. There’s so much I could be doing right now if I had even an ounce of motivation.

January 15, 2021Brilliant women

  • US cases 23,520,561 (212,149 new)
  • US deaths 391,922 (3,393 of us died today)
  • 10.6 million Americans are now vaccinated.
  • Biden is informed today that there is no Federal reserve of vaccines (!!!)
  • We hit 2 million global cases today.

What a horrible night. I went to bed at 9 PM, although I really wanted to turn in two hours earlier. Dreams were physical and exhausting. The only one I can remember is that it was summer, I was wearing slacks and a short sleeve shirt, sitting in the back seat of someone’s car, and realizing I didn’t have a mask. I couldn’t convince the driver to take me back home, and we couldn’t find anywhere to buy one. I woke up before reaching destination or resolving the mask problem. Mom died a year ago today, maybe that anniversary has something to do with it.

Stupid work laptop! Every single morning it requires a full reboot out of its sleep mode, sometimes twice. Wasting so much time. Making me so mad. Melt-down at 11:30 AM.

The National Mall in DC closes today. Chris Krebs (whom Trump fired from the NSC), cautions people to be prepared over the next few weeks and months. He and the FBI are concerned about armed insurrectionists moving to state capitols with DC being locked down. Our Sacramento staff are instructed to work from home this week. Infrastructure may be the next targets (the power grid, the internet). The inaugural rehearsal on Sunday is cancelled. “MAGA Nation” has taken Trump’s absence of concern as a cue to continue the fight. “Freedom is a Right” and “Refuse to be Silenced” flyers are circulating on social media.

Trump had planned to leave DC on January 19 but now plans to fly on AirForce1 the morning of January 20. He wants a red carpet, a military band, a 21 gun salute, and of course, a crowd. Some of his White House staff will continue to work with him at Mar-a-Lago. I’m really glad that Biden knows his way around the White House, but Dr. Jill has her work cut out for her since Melania Trump refused to give Dr. Jill the traditional tour of the residence, or in fact ‘the time of day.’

The day ends on a happier note with news that the NRA is filing for bankruptcy. I laughed out loud while reading about brilliant women on dating sites who lured MAGA men into boasting and sharing photos of where they were on January 6, and then turning insurrectionists over to the FBI.

January 16, 2021

  • Global cases 94,475,010 / deaths 2,021,871
  • US cases 23,754,315 (233,754 new)
  • US deaths 395,296 (3,374 of us died today)
  • 1 in 3 residents in Los Angeles are now infected.
  • We expect to hit 400,000 deaths by Inauguration, and 500,000 by March 1.

Most of downtown DC is now barricaded off and bridges are closed, which is making it really difficult for people to get to work.

Trump’s final actions include rushing 13 executions through after a 17-year hiatus, and transferring Oak Flat – a sacred indigenous site in Arizona – over to a mining company. I’m waiting for Trump to issue a blanket pardon after insurrectionists started requesting pardons “for doing what you asked us to do.” It would be among many things that might seal his fate at his impeachment trial.

Cruz and Haley are facing increasing pressure to resign, and 7,300 students and alumni have signed a petition for their disbarment. I’m really hoping for their censure or expulsion from Congress, though I know it’s probably wishful thinking. The Guardian reports that records are being destroyed at the White House today, though it is the only reference I see on today’s news cycle.

There was a bomb threat at the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle. No bomb found, I don’t think they found a suspect or motive. Could be tied into the current political landscape, or just some random thing, as the level of general crime continues to rise here.

I slept in until 9:30 today and feel much better. I get the Crow Cap into the mail but it takes me half a day to accomplish that. Dinner and a movie at Payne’s house finish the day on a better note.

January 18, 2021MLK Day

  • US cases 24,073,555 (136,780 new) / deaths 398,977 (1,377 reported today)
  • COVID-19 has now killed more Americans than both World Wars combined.
  • I become eligible for a vaccine this week, now I just need to find an appointment.
  • And then the COVID-19 website crashed…

Agitators are telling their people to stay home this weekend (from both DC and state capitols) because “they are being framed.” Videos from January 6 continue to surface and show both planning and organization by this so-called mob.

The Guardian reports that the FBI is vetting all 25,000 National Guard members “amid concerns of an insider attack.” Commanders and guard members are being trained for the warning signs to watch for among their own ranks. It is surreal to watch this level of security and concern surrounding a presidential inauguration in this country.

January 19, 2021 – An Inauguration Eve that 400,000 won’t see

  • US cases since noon 24,246,230 / deaths 401,553 (1,531 died today)
  • US death rate is now one person ever 26 seconds.
  • 100,000 deaths have occurred in the last 5 weeks.
  • We reach 400,000 deaths by noon today. Twice as many as any other country.

In a surprise move, McConnell delivers a speech on the Senate floor.

“The mob was fed lies, provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the 1st branch of federal government which they did not like…”

House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on C-SPAN

He went on to talk about moving forward, seeking common ground, “and check and balance each other respectfully.” Wow. IMHO that sounds like a healthy, open door to an impeachment trial, and conviction, and hopefully banning Trump from holding future office.

Trump finally listens to his legal council and abandons his plan to pardon himself, his family, and key people involved in the insurrection. Pardons imply guilt, which is not a thing he wants to bring to his impeachment trial. But now he plans to pardon Steve Bannon. It might be a long night, these last 16 hours of the Trump presidency, or what The Guardian framed as “a lesson in American Carnage”

Twelve National Guard members are removed from inaugural duties as a result of vetting (out of 25,000).

I feel like I’m losing mental capacity today. I can’t remember anything longer than a few minutes. I’m eating everything in sight, but it’s less from stress and more celebratory, as the world turns away from Trump and towards a viable president. I’ve walked 5 days in a row, my very own happy milestone. And I applied for a vaccine appointment today. Vaccine distribution is still fouled up but at least I’m weeks away from a vaccine, instead of months.

On the eve of his inauguration, Biden flies from his home in Wilmington, to DC, on a private plane (after the train became a security risk and Trump refused him the use of AirForce2). His very first stop was the Washington Monument, where 400 candles have been set up around the Reflection Pond as a memorial to the 400,000 we have lost to COVID-19 as of today.

Cities across the country are lighting up their iconic buildings and ringing church bells – once for every 1,000 souls. Seattle lit its Space Needle and rang the temple bell in Chinatown. I turned all of my holiday lights back on and will keep them on through the night.

It is a somber, yet hopeful New Year’s Eve…

My Pandemic Year II: January 1-10, 2021

So much happened in January that I filled an entire journal. Here are the first few days which include the Insurrection on the US Capitol on January 6, referred to variously as The Insurrection and later, the Capitol Siege.

January 1, 2021 COVID-19 hits 20 million cases in the US

My very first thought of the year is “Calgon Take Me Away” with a visual of the commercial from the 1960s for this bath suds product. Maybe it was my Mom visiting…

First meal of the new year is granola with frozen strawberries. First chore is ‘feed the cats’ and then the hummers. I expect today will be all about cleaning house, finishing another shipment of masks, and finishing an Imperial Crow Cap (crows appliquéd to the cuff of a hand-sewn cap covered with hand braided passementerie). I start a shopping list now that my freezer is half empty.

COVID-19 hits 20 million cases in the US today, 1 million more than a week ago. Double from 2 months ago, double that of India (the next most infected country) and 10x more than France (the next most infected country). We now account for a quarter of COVID-19 cases globally, with 20% of the global population.

  • Global cases 83,957,701 / deaths 1,827,121
  • US cases 20,128,358 (184,664 new) / US deaths 347,787 (2,186 died today)
  • We’re vaccinating about 100,000 people per day. It needs to be one million+ per day.
  • COVID-19 patients now take up 40% of ICU beds.
  • 500 doses of Pfizer vaccine are intentionally left out to spoil by a pharmacist in Wisconsin, who has now been arrested.
  • Ohio State athletes who have survived COVID-19 are now showing signs of heart damage.
  • CDC forecasts 80,000 more deaths in the US over the next 3 weeks.

The US Senate overrides Trump’s veto on the NDAA funding bill, 81-13. Military bases with Confederate names will now be renamed. Section 230 will not be repealed. VP Pence’s lawyers ask the federal judge to toss out Gohmert’s request to overturn the results of the Electoral College (which he does). Trump’s grip on the political landscape loosens as the GOP appear to live in less fear. I look forward to fewer Trump tweets in February.

I end the first day of the year ignoring my chores list, and finishing 60 masks that I had started in December, bringing my total to 700+ for 2020, which includes 350 shipped to the Masks4Millions project at Days for Girls. I plan to complete 50 masks a month this year until there is no longer a need for them.

BREXIT is now in effect, with no problems so far with freight at border checkpoints.

Vicki suggests that the New Year won’t actually begin until January 20.

January 2, 2021First call for violence on January 6

  • US cases 20,396,243 (267,884 new) / deaths 349,933 (2,146 died today)
  • Out of the first 330,000 deaths, 250,000 were age 65+, 40% were in nursing homes.
  • Vaccine distribution issues now include a shortage of syringes and needles and a lack of coordination between state and federal entities on the vaccine itself. There also isn’t enough vaccine being made to meet demand.
  • At our current rate, it will take 10 years to vaccinate enough Americans to reach herd immunity.
  • Doctors are citing burnout.
  • “Social Depression” becomes a new term.

In political news, Gohmert is now calling for violence in the streets on January 6, a statement he denies at 6 PM this evening. Ted Cruz leads a charge for an emergency 10-day audit of the votes in those states where Trump contested the results. Twelve senators now plan to contest the confirmation of the Electoral College votes if that audit does not take place. I know nothing will come of it, but it is damaging to our democratic process and is still harping on the alleged but disproved voter fraud scheme. I wonder if this will ever, EVER stop.

Later it turns out that both Cruz and Pompeo are using this election drama as a soft-launch for their 2024 presidential runs. Because IMHO there’s nothing more presidential than contesting an election … !

Sulemani’s death anniversary is tomorrow, chatter about war with Iran continues. I think we’re in for a rough week.

And I think the overall COVID-19 trauma and the trajectory of political events is starting to get to me. I really just want to go back to bed today but I know I’ll feel better once I clean house and take a walk. I see Vicki today for the first time since mid-December, and we take a walk at The Rez. I make pancakes for dinner and have a chocolate cake cooling. Chores that should barely phase me, totally wipe me out. I go to bed early to avoid eating that entire cake.

January 3, 2021“Find Me 11,780 Votes”

  • US cases 20,630,543 (234,300 new) / deaths 351,453 (1,520 died today).
  • Global cases now at 85,095,602.

It’s 2:30 AM Sunday. Cats have taken up half the bed. I was hoping for a 12-hour sleep cycle but no such luck. I’m back to that usless 4-hour sleep cycle. Happy January.

I had planned to leave my holiday lights up and lit until January 6, but shut them off at 9:30 AM. I add Twelfth Night to the list of holidays and milestones that have been lost to this pandemic year. I reconcile myself to another six months of isolation and at least another year of no travel. I turn to reissuing my original travel journals as Director’s Cuts at DavenoTravels.blog – combining the photos and text from 3+ websites into more complete and single-source accounts. I had been saving that activity for when I retire, but maybe revisiting those now will cheer me up.

Seven Brandenberg, the pharmacist who left Pfizer vaccines out, has been charged with 1st degree reckless endangerment and criminal damage. He’s a conspiracy theorist who thought the vaccine would alter people’s DNA. The 570 doses that he rendered useless were valued at $8-11,000. No damage was done to the 57 people who were vaccinated, other than the fact that they didn’t actually get vaccinated…

Today’s news is saturated with Trump pressuring Georgia to find him 11,780 votes. The phone call is on tape. Cruz says “we need to tone down the rhetoric.” I wonder if sedition is becoming an actual threat.

At 5 PM news breaks that the US Nimitz is staying in the Middle East instead of returning to home port, because of threats by Iran to Trump and other US government officials (according to Acting Secretary Miller, a Trump appointee). Generals at the Pentagon had disagreed with the plan for the Nimitz to return home, Miller overrode them but then reversed himself today. The move is cited as precautionary rather than defensive.

January 4, 2021 “Worse than Watergate” and National Guard deployments begin

  • WA State cases 255,396 (4,373 new) / deaths 3,459 / hospitalizations 15,111
  • US cases 20,786,001 (155,458 new) / deaths 353,131 (1,678 died today)
  • US death rate is now on ever 33 seconds.
  • 1 in 5 people in Los Angeles are now infected.
  • Hospitals in LA are at 120% capacity. Ambulances are being told to NOT transport people who have little chance of survival. The Navy hospital ship “Mercy” which could supply 1,000 beds in LA, is inexplicably sent to dry dock in Portland.
  • ICUs all over the country are reporting oxygen shortages. An ICU unit in Egypt lost all of its patients when the hospital’s oxygen supply suddenly ran out. Russia, Africa and Iraq also report oxygen shortages.
  • The experts are still talking Fall 2021 before we reach herd immunity in the US.

It’s Monday, I’m back in “the office” for the first time this year. It’s funny how I always expect the new year to feel different, but it never does. My weight is still high but I’m still past caring. My high starch weekend diet improved my mood somewhat, so I figure it’s a trade off for less than optimal physical health. Some day I’ll manage to have both…

The US is now considering giving half-doses of the Moderna vaccine in order to spread out the supply (still administering 2 doses, but half-strength). There’s still a lack of research on the efficacy of 1 full dose vs 2 half-doses, or if you can successfully mix and match the vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna). There’s also some disagreement on the timing of the second does. The problem with distribution is logistical; we aren’t set up for mass vaccine programs. Masks, hand-washing and distancing are being touted as more effective in controlling the spread than the vaccine. Interesting messaging…

The new UK COVID-19 variant (B.1.1.7) is now in 30+ countries and is 60% more transmissible, and although it is not more lethal, scientists are concerned. It is expected to become the dominant strain. There’s also a new strain in South Africa, still mostly contained to that continent. It is more lethal and not responsive to the current vaccines. I’m now holding off on trying to get a vaccine until the medical community figures this stuff out.

Trump’s “find me 11,780 votes” is still at the top of the news cycle and is being termed “a potentially criminal act,” with impeachment part of that dialog, although that process is not likely to occur before his term ends. Trump hints at involving the military, but an op-ed in the Washington Post cites 10 former Pentagon chiefs warning Trump not to do that. Georgia would not give Trump the votes he needs to win the presidency, so people are wondering how many other states Trump or his minions have contacted. (Trump called Georgia’s AG 18 times before the AG picked up the phone.) Carl Bernstein says this is “worse than Watergate.”

Democrats in the House prepare a letter of censure. The GOP continues to defend Trump though some voice concerns. Chip Roy (R-TX), a retiring House member, objects to seating 67 House members from the 6 contested states, highlighting that if there was indeed voter fraud, it would affect all down-ticket offices as well as Trump’s re-election.

Washington DC braces for 15,000 people expected to take part in 3 protest marches and rallies tomorrow and Wednesday. The leader of the Proud Boys is arrested on outstanding charges which includes a firearms offense (guns are illegal in DC). National Guard is now mobilizing in downtown DC ahead of “armed militias” but are not being deployed to the Capitol or the National Mall. (IMHO perhaps that is the realm of the Secret Service or the Capitol Police.) Trump plans to hold a rally on the Ellipse.

Naturalists have recorded sounds of forests from around the world at http://www.tree.fm. It’s today’s new ambient soundtrack in my WFH office, though not enough of a distraction…

January 5, 2021

  • US cases 21,046,196 (260,195 new)
  • US deaths 357,226. An astounding 4,097 people died today.

I wake up late, with a panic attack. I’m up for about 2 hours before going back to bed. Five hours later, after cake and coffee, I am slightly restored. I’m having trouble finding my words again today, which I hope is just from not enough sleep and too much stress.

Georgia’s Senate runoff voting will be a long process today, with absentee votes not being counted until after 7 PM. The race is still too close to call, and control of the US Senate hangs in the balance.

The FDA discourages half-dose vaccinations as there is no science to back that up. We appear to be vaccinating about 1 million people per day, with about 4 million vaccinated. Out of a population of 330 million, that puts us into October before most people are immunized. Vaccines have been prioritized for the last 2,000 Cherokee talkers in an attempt to keep that language from going extinct. I wonder how many other things we are at risk of losing.

Peters Valley Gallery (where I sell hats) reopens today. The Guardian reports that the UK has an infection rate of 1 in 50 people, and is going into lockdown until March.

Websites like Netflix and USPS have red banners at the top now, stating delivery slowdowns due to COVID-19. I suspect LeJoy’s systematic tinkering with USPS last November has also played into it. Local mail that used to take 3 days now takes 6. Priority Mail (3 day) now takes 6-10. I’ve switched to UPS for shipments, and pay all bills online now to make sure payments arrive on time. People without internet access are at an extreme disadvantage now on several fronts.

January 6, 2021 – The World Watches a US Capitol Insurrection

  • US cases 21,299,340 (253,114 new) / deaths 361,123 (3,895 of us died today)
  • UC San Diego installs a vending machine on campus, stocked with COVID-19 self-tests, free for anyone with a UC student ID card.

It’s 3 AM. Granada has spent the last hour stretched out full length beside me, alternating between purring and snoring. It’s not his normal posture but the full body hug is really comforting.

Today is Twelfth Night, Epiphany. It used to be my favorite holiday – a personal post-Christmas that I spent walking around downtown, admiring the holiday lights on nearly empty streets, and the window displays that were no longer crowded with shoppers. Dinner and sometimes a movie. I wonder if there were any lights to admire downtown this year. I haven’t even left my apartment since Sunday. Pouring rain has removed any motivation to walk the stairs at NW Hospital, or check the mail down the hall, or do anything at all. The only time my chest isn’t tight is when I’m asleep.

One year ago today, I was in a surgical mask in my mother’s room, taking down Christmas decor while she slept, with the hiss of an oxygen machine and her labored breathing filling the room. She would be in hospice care a few days later, and dead a day after that. I would be very ill for the next 6 weeks with every symptom of COVID-19 except for the fever. Unless you had the fever or prolonged shortness of breathe, doctors didn’t even want to see you. By the time I recovered in early March, Seattle was starting to lock down, our office closes and our staff started working from home.

I try to stay off the news but fail. The circus that Congress has promised in their otherwise strictly ceremonial role of certifying the results of the Electoral College vote is a thing I just don’t need to add to my day today. Twelve GOP senators and 140 GOP representatives plan to dispute the results in a last ditch effort to “Stop the Steal.” McConnell rebuffs efforts to overturn the election, saying “if overturned, our democracy would enter a death spiral.” Pence has already told Trump he cannot reverse the Electoral College results. The whole thing is a travesty.

The Guardian News calls the Georgia race for Warnock. Ossoff’s race against Perdue is still too close to call.

According to Twitter, the Capitol Building is being evacuated, as well as the Cannon and other buildings in the vicinity. There are no news alerts yet on mainstream media.

A crowd of about 8,000, urged on by Trump during his speech on the Ellipse an hour ago, has marched to the Capitol. They have breached the barriers and are clashing with the police. There are reports of bomb threats (pipe bombs would later be found outside of office doors at both the RNC, DNC and Capitol grounds, placed their the night before). Staff from the Cannon Building are sent to the tunnels below the buildings. Those in the Longworth Building are told to shelter in place.

All times listed below are Pacific Standard:

  • At 11 AM the Capitol Building is in lockdown. I don’t see any police on the videos so far but teargas has now been deployed. Crowds have overwhelmed the Capitol police and are at the doors of the building, in an area the public is not allowed access to.
  • At 11:23 AM the insurgents have broken doors and windows and are now inside the Capitol and on the second floor. Staff who have not evacuated are told to shelter in place.
  • At 11:24 AM the House goes into recess and the Electoral Vote confirmation is paused.
  • At 11:45 AM the insurgents are now in the Rotunda, within steps of both the Senate and the House. There is discussion about evacuating Pence. There was no plan in place to do so, which makes me wonder if there were Capitol police on the wrong side of this.
  • At 11:49 AM there is now an armed standoff inside the door of the House which is now being evacuated. Pence has also now been evacuated. Congress has been given gas masks because tear gas has been deployed in the Rotunda. Trump is in the Oval Office. He is not calling for people to stand down.
  • The Mayor of DC calls for a 6 PM curfew, which ls later extended to Alexandria and other DC suburbs. She activated the National Guard yesterday but there’s no sign of them today. DOD has reportedly not approved her request.
  • At 12:15 PM protesters enter the Senate Floor. Insurgents film themselves ransacking senator’s desks. Trump tweets “Stay Peaceful. Honor the Police. We are the Law & Order Party.”
  • At 12:30 PM the Senate Chamber is cleared and the insurgents are pushed back to the Rotunda. No word regarding the House yet. Trump finally calls for the National Guard according to his press secretary, after the DOD had denied the request from DC officials (it is later reported that that decision was made by Pence rather than Trump). Ivanka tweets “These are American Patriots” but takes the tweet down later.
  • At 12:52 the National Guard are now deployed at the Capitol. Multiple officers are injured. There’s an insurgent sitting in Pelosi’s office with his feet on her desk. He scribbles a note to her: “We will not back down” and takes a piece of her mail. Pence is telling (texting maybe?) for people to leave. Trump stays silent.
  • At 1:08 PM Biden speaks: “An assault on the rule of law. This is not dissent, this is chaos. Words from a President Matter. They can Inspire. The can Incite.” Biden calls on Trump to go onto national TV now and do his constitutional duty and demand that the protesters stop now. The Hart Building has now been trashed.
  • At 1:20 PM a stream of police vehicles start to arrive outside the Capitol Building.
  • At 1:30 PM, Trump tweets “Time to go home.” Insurgents are high-fiving each other as they leave, though I’m not clear which building I’m looking at. There’s still a stand-off in the Senate side.
  • At 2 PM riot police arrive and walk insurgents off the Capitol steps. “Occupy DC” on January 20 has now surfaced in social medial chatter.
  • At 3 PM the Capitol Building is secured. Congress will resume the Electoral College vote certification. Both the House and Senate are trying to ‘talk down’ their members who had planned to object.
  • At 5:30 PM, Metropolitan Police are still trying to clear the West side of the Capitol campus. Media questions if the ‘siege on the capitol will result in resignations.’
  • A woman who was shot inside the US Capitol has died.
  • A truck of Molotov cocktails and 3 more pipe bombs is discovered near the Capitol.
  • Trump tweets: “This is what you get when you steal an election.” It’s his last tweet before Twitter locks his account (and the POTUS account as well) for 12 hours for inciting violence. Facebook suspends his accounts for 24 hours.
  • The White House goes completely black tonight, no lights at all except for the flagpole.

In Washington State, demonstrators stormed the gates of Governor Inslee’s residence, both Inslee and his wife were home. The State Patrol cleared them off the grounds at about 4:30 after an hours-long standoff, with apparently no arrests. Similar “Occupy the Capitol” events were occurring simultaneously in Ohio, Indiana, California, Georgia, Kansas, New Mexico and Minnesota. IMHO today was a planned, strategic effort…

Meanwhile, Ossoff has been declared the winner in Georgia. A short sigh of relief as the Democrats will now have a 1 vote majority in the Senate. Trump auctions drilling rights in the Arctic but doesn’t get much response. “The oil will pay for the GOP tax cuts from last year.” Even in theory it’s an epic fail.

Congress will finish the confirmation of the Electoral College votes. Female staffers were the responsible adults in the room with the presence of mind to bundle up those wooden vote boxes and take them to safety, and assuring the vote confirmation would continue after order was restored.

The World is Watching. This is Trump’s legacy. The GOP has nurtured the monster that has now devoured them. Senior officials are discussing the 25th Amendment. Articles of Impeachment are being drafted again in the House. There are unconfirmed reports that Trump has banned Pence and his staff from the West Wing.

There are comparisons being made between today’s events and the BLM protests, when people in Seattle and Portland were teargassed for peaceful marching and sometimes peaceful standing. In DC every block within a 2 mile radius of the Capitol campus was locked down during BLM. Police presence during the BLM marches was triple what we saw at the Capitol today. Today, police were outnumbered and white insurgents went wherever they wanted to. It is later reported that insurgents gained access to private offices because Capitol police were escorting congressional members and staffers to safety. WHERE WERE THE ARRESTS?

IMHO Trump, and those others who also spoke at this morning’s rally need to be arrested for incitement and sedition. Giuliani called for people to “engage in trial by combat.” General Flynn referred to “Trump’s Party.” Don Trump Jr. said “We’re coming for you.” IMHO instead of running for office in 2024, Trump needs to be in jail.

January 7, 2021Biden is confirmed, Trump is banned from social media

  • Global cases 88,005,213 / deaths 1,897,568
  • US cases 21,572,649 (273,309 new)
  • US deaths 365,174. Another 4,051 of us died today.

The Electoral College vote confirmation went into the early hours of this morning, with a number of members in both the House and Senate continuing with their objections in spite of yesterday’s events. With that vote certified and no legal options remaining, Trump promises an orderly transition “to the next administration” but does not say Biden’s name.

Twitter (at 3:30 PM) and Facebook (later) ban Trump from their platforms indefinitely. They also remove accounts for Flynn, Powell and others linked to QAnon. Cries of “Cancel Culture” rise up from the MAGA crowd although the rest of the Trump family still have their accounts. Media swaps out the term “protesters” for “insurgents.” Journalists continue to be threatened.

Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) issues the first call to enact the 25th amendment and 200 members of Congress back that call. There’s chatter about cabinet members resigning so they don’t have to vote on the 25th if it comes to that. Today’s 17 resignations include Devos (Dept of Education), Ryan Tully (NSC), Chao (Dept of Transportation and McConnell’s wife), and Mulvaney. The Sergeants at Arms for both the House and Senate, the Chief of Police for the Capitol also resign. Pence is opposed to enacting the 25th, so impeachment it is. Those Articles of have been drafted and are now circulating in the House for signature. The media calls for Trump to resign: “He can choose how he leaves.”

There are more questions about yesterday’s police response. Cops were opening gates for insurgents and taking selfies with them in the Rotunda. The film clip of a police officer assisting an older, female insurgent down the stairs at the Capitol (instead of arresting her for trespass) infuriated me. There are questions about vets in tactical gear among the insurgents.

The Washington State Patrol said no arrests were made at Inslee’s home yesterday because “there were no threats to life or property (in spite of them breaking down a gate to gain access to the residence), and not making arrests is a de-escalation technique. We can investigate later.” Lawmakers propose a gun ban at protests and at the State Capitol.

How interesting it is that nearly 100 arrests were made in Seattle during the BLM marches last year, 10,000 nationwide. Yet 8,000 at the nations’s capitol didn’t warrant any warrants. “If you’re white, you can do anything.” The more explanations I hear, the more it sounds like continued upholding of the sacrosanct of white privilege.

January 8, 2021Insurrection Day fallout continues

  • WA State cases 268,607 (4,829 new) / deaths 3,699 (65 new)
  • WA State hospitalizations 15,557
  • US cases 21,861,844 (289,195 new) / deaths 368,769 (3,625 died today)
  • 1 in 30 Londoners are now infected.
  • Biden plans to release the entire stockpile of vaccines (currently half the nations’ supply is being held back as 2nd doses).
  • King County plans to open mass vaccination sites by February 1.

100 million Americans have lost employment over the last year. Stimulus checks for $600 that were sent at the end of December, were sent to the wrong accounts for 13 million people.

The Hill (media) reports that GOP are having buyer’s remorse in backing Trump. “We thought he would become more Presidential” and “We should have been a stronger check and balance.” They held back on their criticism because they needed Trump’s support for the Georgia run off, which he failed to give them. They recognize the long term damage to their party. Many of them received calls from him during the lockdown at the Capitol. It’s sad that it took them 4 years to figure this out. And yet, McConnell says he will withhold the Articles of Impeachment from the Senate floor until 1 PM on January 20, which pretty much guarantees that it will fail, since senators will argue that you can’t impeach a president after they leave office.

Google removes Parler from its app store for Android, and Apple considers banning Parler from its app store as well if it doesn’t change its moderation policies. Shopify shuts down Trump’s web store. Campaign Monitor closes Trump’s account and disables his ability to monetize his emails. Trump tries to tweet from the POTUS account on Twitter but it is promptly removed. He is now banned on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Reddit. He has found a new home on Gab but has fewer followers on that platform.

There have now been 68 arrests in DC, mostly for misdemeanors like breaking curfew, in spite of images of people with long guns and pistols (illegal in DC). It’s a stark contrast to the 278+ arrests of unarmed marchers in Seattle during BLM. We have a racial reckoning to work through on a national level.

NBC now reports that a police officer is among 5 people who died as a result of the insurrection. Fifty officers were injured. Reports surface that the National Guard was purposely restrained over fears of a “BLM-style” overtly armed force presence, and that the Capitol Police turned down assistance from the National Guard and the FBI. Pelosi’s laptop was stolen, along with her Speaker’s podium and other items.

Rally goers are being pulled off of planes for their return flights home from DC and are being cuffed at the airport. 14 Trump rally goers from Seattle are banned from Alaska Airlines after harassing other passengers and not wearing masks on their return flight. Some insurgents are getting fired from their jobs after they show up on video clips. The videos that are surfacing are ghastly and include a mob chanting “Hang Pence,” and a guy with a bunch of flex cuffs on the Senate floor, which indicated plans to take hostages.

January 9, 2021

  • US cases 22,129,231 (267,387 new) / deaths 372,384 (3,615 died today)

I slept badly as usual, to bed at 11 PM, awake until 3 AM, up five hours later. A clean kitchen, a light breakfast, and amazement that I haven’t gained 5 pounds over the last 3 days from stress eating. I box the masks up for shipping, spend an hour looking for a journal, and build a pandemic time capsule which is now in my closet in a white box labeled “Do not open until 2040.” Work on the Crow Cap continues, it’s a do-over like nearly every other hat I’ve made over the last few months. I order more journals. I had hoped my handwriting would improve with daily practice, but sadly, no.

Today’s social media chatter is about plans for new insurrections for January 16, 17 and 20. DC will be on high alert for the next 30 days. Of special concern is the safety of those attending, which include SCOTUS, past presidents, current Congressional members (including those in the line of ascension) and of course, Biden and Harris. I really hope they move it indoors and televise it, but Biden is ‘insistent on showing no fear.’ The guest list has been pared down to 3,000 from a normal list of 200,000.

One of the most jarring photos on social media today is of black men cleaning up the mess left behind by white insurrectionists. A photo worth a thousand words, and none of them good. Other than that, Twitter is a whole lot better in the absence of Trump tweets and retweets. Who knew one person could suck up so much oxygen.

In Washington State, Inslee calls on the National Guard to protect the state capitol when the legislative session opens later this month. I suspect other state capitols are making similar arrangements.

Our lockdown has now been extended to January 18. I won’t be eligible for a vaccine until May/June unless distribution turns around soon. Logistics are now compounded by needing to schedule appointments to coincide with a 2 hour window per 5 shot vial.

It’s my birthday today. I celebrate with unexpected gifts of flowers and cakes from a handful of people. NPR denoted January 6 as December 37, and moved the New year to January 20, as some of us have already done. It ends my day on a lighter note!

January 10, 2021

  • Global cases 90,237,469 / deaths 1,934,096
  • US cases 22,385,975 (256,744 new) / deaths 374,072 (1,688 died today)
  • By comparison, India and Brazil have 10,000,000+ cases, Russia 3,400.000, the UK 3,000,000 cases.
  • Now there are concerns about COVID-19 exposure from senators who refused to mask up while they were sequestered with colleagues on January 6.

It’s another firehose news day, which is weird for a Sunday. I can’t decide if living on the news cycle is good or bad. I hate being blindsided, but trying to stay on top of everything is really exhausting. More posts and videos are coming out from Parler members, showing that the intent on January 6 was to lynch Pence and do physical harm to Pelosi and other lawmakers.

MAGA members who were involved in the Capitol Siege are being added to no-fly lists as soon as they are ID’d in the video clips that are being widely shared on social media. Two guys with flex cuffs have been arrested, but most of the charges I’m seeing are for misdemeanors like ‘unlawful entry’ and ‘disorderly conduct’ instead of ‘attempt to kidnap’ or weightier charges. It’s really frustrating to think that these guys are going to walk away with a slap on the wrist and a minimal or suspended sentence.

GOP Senators Toomey and Murkowski ask Trump to resign, echoing the 56% of Americans who feel the same (according to an ABC poll). Articles of Impeachment now have 190 co-sponsors in the House. Pelosi adds a 14th amendment piece to the impeachment order, “sedition will get you removed from Congress.” Hawley and Cruze also face public pressure to resign for their roles during the Electoral College vote confirmation on January 6, and there’s a push by both Yale and Harvard to have them both disbarred. General Colin Powell quits the Republican party. A second police officer has died, this one by suicide; he had been assigned to the Senate.

On Twitter, Arnold Schwarzenegger compares the Capitol Siege to Kristalnacht in Germany. “Hang Mike Pence” trends on Twitter and is blocked a short time later. Parler has now been de-platformed and banned from Amazon, Google and Apple for “engaging in illegal and dangerous activity.” They’re having trouble finding a service provider, even text messaging, email and lawyers have dumped them today. They had 4 million users, lots signed up but few stayed. Wikipedia defined Parler as “a right wing echo chamber with no left wing to fight with.” Platforms like Parler intensify extremism but weaken its influence, I presume because they are preaching to their own choir instead of recruiting.

I made it up 8 flights of stairs today and once around the entire NW Hospital parking garage in spite of a hip trying to go awry. I interrupted a large murder of crows (about 50) on the roof before they gathered above my head, circling me for several minutes before landing in the tops of two nearby trees, where they continued to scold me until I went back down the stairs. It was pretty awesome, given that I woke from a dream this morning about being a crow, and perhaps my obsession with collecting feathers was me just trying to find my old clothes.

I am having the weirdest dreams…

I get back home in time for the “Oldies Hour” on the jazz station. It was always on when I got back from visiting Mom on Sundays. She’s been on my mind a lot, probably because of the holidays and the upcoming anniversary of her death next week.

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. Work on a pair of Venetian hats resumes. I 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… and a crying jag commences. 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.

I managed another walk today – 2 days in a row in spite of twinges of fatigue and nausea. My anxiety is back up and I’m more worried about stroke or heart attack than COVID-19. I am so stressed out today. I should finish a pair of Venetian hats but don’t.

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 might have been her last Christmas.

I have now walked for 3 days in a row though I only made it up 4 flights of stairs. It’s sunny today but I’m achy and depressed, with very limited capacity to respond to others who are also struggling. I’m limiting my intake of ‘all the feels’ social media posts 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 goddamn 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 lists 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 Jewish 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…

I feel much better today in spite of the news, 6 hours of sleep and triple my daily allotment of chocolate. Maybe I’ve just been sleeping too much.

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 25th Amendment time 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.

I have a case of depressive surrealism, feeling like I woke up as someone else, in some other place. I’m waiting for the next shoe to drop and I don’t want to do anything, but I have 3 orders that I really need to finish today. I finally have new neighbors across the street, a Hispanic couple with a teenager. I’ll introduce myself in a few days.

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.

The snow turned to rain by midnight and now it’s sunny. I really need to get out for a walk, 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.

Dr. Fauci turns 80!

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.

My stress level is again too high, so I take the long walk to the post office and the bank. There’s still snow on the ground in the Jewish cemetery in spite of the bright sun today. Murders of crows are in the tops of several trees seem to be watching a funeral in the Asian section. What a day for that…

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.

Depression returns tonight. I shut off the news, read some magazines, pour a drink and cuddle the cats. I am amused that January 6 is 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 should post something to Daveno Travels but in the absence of travel, I have little to say. 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 give up and 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 get a few masks halfway done but have no energy for hats. 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 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 not walking enough, I’m back to stress eating 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. Bouts of depression continue as 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

Final COVID-19 counts for 2020 as of 5:30 PM

  • 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’m more mad than depressed today, which is usually a preferable state to be in. I forgo my ritual of cleaning house and taking out every scrap of trash before midnight because it seems meaningless this year. I need new traditions for today and for my birthday, which I usually spend thrift store shopping. Not 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.

My Pandemic Year: November 2020

November 1, 2020 – Dia de los Muertos

  • COVID-19 Global cases 46,427,615 / deaths 1,199,693
  • US cases 9,201,500 / total deaths 230,967

Seattle Center ran Festal virtually today. I watched the dancing and cooking, missed the block printing but learned how to make sugar skulls: mix 1 cup sugar with 1 tsp merengue powder, add drops of water (up to 1 tsp) until you can form the mixture in your hand. You can freehand sculpt skulls, but I want to find a mold for next year. Let the skulls cure for 24 hours before decorating them with colored Royal icing.

White House is installing a non-scalable 7′ tall perimeter fence around the entire grounds including the Ellipse. It’s like Trump has no plans to leave…

November 2, 2020 – All Saints Day

  • COVID-19 test positivity is now 6.6%, death rate in the US is 4%
  • New daily cases are up 16.7%, hospitalizations are up 13.4%
  • Trump is now hinting at firing Dr. Fauci after November 4 or so. He says doctors are inflating cast numbers in order to make money.

I ate the last of the pan muertos for breakfast and crumbled a piece for the birds on the patio. I stock up on cat food, chocolate and vodka so I can hunker down in case protests come this far north (which is not likely but things are just so unpredictable right now).

At 11:30 PM on the eve of Election Day, my gut tells me that the winner will take it by 306 electoral votes. I hope that winner is Biden.

November 3, 2020 – Election Day

It’s pouring rain today. I decide to leave my Dia de los Muertos banners up for awhile, but I dismantle my ofrendas. I need twinkle lights. The house is really dark now unless I turn on every single light.

The nation is on edge. Cities are boarding up their storefronts in anticipation of violent protests. The fence surrounding the White House is plastered with anti-Trump signs today. Trump predicts winning 306 electoral votes – the same number he won in his landslide victory over Hillary Clinton. He moved his victory party from his hotel to the White House earlier this week. He expected 400 people to show up, today the confirmed guest list is 250.

At 9 PM, the returns are not showing the landslide the Dems needed. Biden is ahead in the electoral count but Trump is trending to win. Most states are red in the popular vote. It’s not over till it’s over but I’m not optimistic.

November 4, 2020 – The vote count continues

  • COVID-19 US cases 9,394,282 (103,087 new) / deaths 232,742
  • Per capita cases – in North Dakota, 159 per 100,000, in South Dakota, 134 per 100,000, both are thought to be linked to the Sturgis rally. In WA State, 117 per 100,000.
  • In the US overall the infection rate is 27 per 100,000, nearly double from last week.
  • Trump told his supporters the pandemic would end today. Surprise!

Biden is now trending to win (at noon) but the vote count won’t be complete until Friday. I’m glad I didn’t pay attention to polls because they were wrong again. Trump is ordering recounts, and predictably makes a premature claim of victory. The Senate looks to remain deadlocked – crippling Biden if he wins, supporting Trump if he wins – a disaster either way.

November 5, 2020

Trumps speech today is so bad that networks are shutting their coverage off before it ends. Election results remain very close, with Biden trending. I’m trying not to hold my breath. Trump tries a third time to stop the count but his case is thrown out in federal court.

Steve Bannon is temporarily banned from Twitter and YouTube today after he posted a “heads on pikes” comments targeting Dr. Fauci and FBI Director Wray. Facebook takes no action.

The US officially withdraws from the Paris Accord this week.

November 7, 2020 – Biden declared President Elect

COVID-19 US cases 9,787734 / deaths 236,484 (3,742 deaths since Nov 5)

Mark Meadows, Trump’s Chief of Staff, tested positive on November 4 but didn’t reveal that until today.

After pulling ahead yesterday in all but one state, Biden is declared the winner today by AP NewsWire. Biden plans to initiate a national COVID-19 plan, return to “following the science” and rejoining the Paris Accord. “We just need to hang on.” I spring out of bed at the news, with the first genuine burst of energy I’ve had in weeks, but it dissipates 90 minutes later.

Trump firings and agency closures continue. Pardons for self and others are pending. Biden supporters are dancing in the streets. Trump supporters are holding small rallies.

November 8, 2020

COVID-19 cases are now 50 million globally, 10 million cases in the US.

Alex Trebek has died, age 80, after losing his battle with cancer. I am very fatigued and mildly depressed, in spite of the sunny day and good news from yesterday. I’m now concerned about the Electoral College being manipulated in December.

Trump is radio-silent today, retreating to his golf course. Twitter has flagged a third of his tweets as misinformation regarding the results of the election.

November 9, 2020

Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense, has been fired. Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing, has COVID-19 and is being treated with therapeutics at home.

Biden forms a COVID-19 task force and announces that vaccines will be free for everyone. In spite of Trump’s continued efforts, headlines are currently focused on Biden. I’m looking forward to Twitter crackdowns after January 20 when Trump will be less relevant.

November 10, 2020

Dire warnings are issued in WA State and specifically King County:

  • WA State COVID-19 cases are 120,011 / deaths 2,482 (2.1% of the population)
  • US cases 10,241,488 / US deaths 239,618 (3,134 new deaths since November 7)
  • Global cases 51,375,050 / global deaths 1,270,167
  • COVID-19 vaccines are not expected to be available to the general public until June 2021.

SCOTUS is upholding the ACA so far, despite Trump’s efforts to dismantle it.

Over the past 24 hours, three officials in the Pentagon have been replaced by Trump loyalists. Esper is replaced by Kash Patel, a Devin Nunes lapdog. Some analysts surmise that the shuffle isn’t preparation for a coup, but rather a cover-up team for the Russia investigation.

So I try to breathe. I block Trump on Twitter today, his tweets have become repetitive. I work on Venetian hats tonight and need to get shipments together for tomorrow. My interview from this morning went well for Artist Sunday, I look forward to seeing the finished piece.

November 11, 2020 – Veteran’s Day

  • US cases 10,392,672, per capita rate is now 37 per 100,000
  • US deaths 240,198, we lost 580 people since yesterday
  • Texas hits 1 million COVID-19 cases – the first state to reach that milestone. They are running out of both hospital beds and morgue space, like NYC did this spring.

I wake up late, with both fatigue and a panic attack. I start Medicare enrollment today. Panic becomes paralytic.

The GSA has not filed the certification necessary to provide the Biden transition team with the things it needs to operate. Transitional briefings are also not occurring. Biden now has 5 million more popular votes than Trump. Most GOP recognize Biden’s win in private but are enabling Trump in public in order to help him “keep face” as he pursues his court cases.

The shake-up at the Pentagon is now thought to have something to do with US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. On the Mall in DC, the first memorial to Native American Vets is sanctified. Hong Kong loses their democracy.

November 12, 2020 – COVID-19 3rd wave

COVID-19 cases in April were 31,000/day. In July – 67,000/day. Now we are over 127,000 case per day. Cities are going back into modified lockdowns (Seattle has stayed in a modified lockdown since March). States are moving towards mask mandates as 28 states reach +10% positivity rate. Mortality rates remain low (relative to cases) but hospitals are again running out of beds, staff and supplies. Trump takes no action as infection rates rise among White House staff.

Skewing the Electoral College has resurfaced as a news topic, but analysts state that Trump would need to convince 20 states to flip. In spite of those odds, it remains my greatest fear.

I’m so angry today. Just get this over with already. I can’t tell if Trump is serious or if he’s just trying to stay the center of everyone’s attention. I also can’t tell if I’m angry with the political landscape or at the complete disruption I have allowed it to create in my daily routine.

November 12, 2020 – Another COVID dream

Another angry day today, but probably from sleep deprivation. Last night’s dreams were horrific and is the only entry for this day.

I was in a place that might have been a crematorium, the setting was dark but more ceremonial than clinical. There was a bed surrounded with blue flame, and glass enclosed candles at the foot, which were intended to show us how quickly the process would go. We were told the process would be “near instant immolation” with very limited pain. I could not see the faces of the other witnesses, only that they were women, dressed in dark tops, belted over pants. My view was focused on the bed and the floor. There was no sound, but a heavy sense of concern, and hands went to mouths when the process started. The person being cremated was dressed in white, and had white hair, and did not appear to be anyone I knew.

The scene kept repeating itself and I couldn’t redirect or escape it. I couldn’t even physically move to get out of bed to break the cycle. It kept me awake the entire night.

November 13, 2020

  • US cases 10,607,221 / daily death rates are at about 1500.
  • Daily cases exceeded 100,000 over the last 8 days (184,000 today alone) and are expected to double in the next four weeks in the absence of a national containment plan.
  • California is the 2nd state to reach 1 million cases.
  • New cases are up by 30% in about half of the country. If 90% of the population wore masks, we could flatten the curve but the White House won’t make that call.

Georgia has now been called for Biden, giving him 306 electoral votes. Trump’s court cases continue to fail. “Four Seasons Total Landscaping Lawyering” has become a catch-phrase for failure. Trump is now focused on CISA, the cyber intelligence security agency in charge of overseeing the elections. Krebs expects to be fired soon for countering Trump’s election conspiracy theories.

November 14, 2020

  • COVID-19 US cases 10,888,372 / deaths 245,578. 5,383 have died since November 11.
  • North Dakota becomes the 36th state to issue a state-wide mask mandate.

Four GOP governors quash Trump/Giuliani attempts to subvert the Electoral College. SCOTUS overturns the DACA suspension and rules that Chris Wolfe was not legally appointed and therefore cannot determine policy. The White House is required to restart the DACA application process. A “Million MAGA March” brings a few thousand protesters to DC today.

November 15, 2020

COVID-19: There has now been a 70% increase in daily cases, and the US positivity rate is now 1 in 378 people. The death rate has increased by 23%. Seattle tightens up its lockdown mandates. Medical staff nation-wide are burning out. There is still no national containment plan.

Trump spends the day at a golf course. He says Biden won but refuses to concede. Giuliani is the lead on his legal team. (Good luck with that…)

I hear a “boom” outside and go out to find that two large boxes have fallen off a FedEx truck and into the middle of the apartment access road. I haul them to the lobby and try to contact FedEx.

I have made very little progress on hats over the last several days, but have managed to clean and cook. And consume a German chocolate cake, nearly in its entirety. I wonder why it takes so much chocolate to get near the point of feeling normal. I’ve past the point of caring about weight gain.

November 16, 2020

Trump seeks opinions on making an air strike on Iran. My gut told me a few months ago that he would try to “wag the dog” by starting a war in order to stay in office. He continues to lose court cases while continuing to say that he won. It is just nuts.

All eyes are now on Emily at the GSA who has not yet initiated the transition paperwork. It funds office, equipment, websites, emails, security clearances… and in its absence continues to hamper the Biden/Harris access to critical briefings and resources.

November 17, 2020 – Krebs is fired, one of many

  • Global cases 55,552,505 / deaths 1,336,793
  • US cases 11,342,495 / deaths 248,468 (2,890 since November 14)

Chris Krebs was fired today from CISA. Half of our military forces in the Middle East will be withdrawn by January 15, against the recommendations of NATO and Trumps top advisors, including GOP. Drilling rights are now being auctioned off in the Arctic Refuge. Trump’s departure strategy appears to be “light so many fires that the Biden administration drowns.” I would be pissed off if I wasn’t so numb…

Seattle prepares for a more severe lockdown. In March I stocked up for 30 days. This time I’m stocked up for 90+ days (fresh produce gets delivered weekly). I’m getting used to this survivalist mindset and am now developing a fear of running out of things.

November 18, 2020

  • US cases 11,485,176 / deaths 250,029. We’re averaging about 1,155 deaths daily.
  • The US has 3 million estimated carriers out of a population of 331 million. So, about 10% of us are thought to be infected.
  • Louisiana cancels Mardi Gras parades that were scheduled for March 2021.
  • Vaccines are expected to be available for first responders and high risk groups in December/January, but are still not expected to be available much before June for the rest of us.

12 million people will lose unemployment benefits on December 26. 50 million Americans are food insecure. Congress adjourns until December 11 without voting on an extension of benefits and a second COVID-19 relief package.

I was expecting my stress / panic / anxiety level to go down after the election. Nope.

November 19, 2020

COVID-19: US deaths are now at 252,514. We lost 2,485 people today.

OMG! The White House is now messaging that Americans should go ahead and gather for Thanksgiving “because for the elderly, this Thanksgiving might be their last.” Scott Atlas, a new advisor on the Coronavirus Task Force (he’s a radiologist) will soon earn the nickname of “Atlas Shrugged” for the amount of disinformation he spreads.

Biden and Harris continue to be blocked from access by Emily at GSA. Some GOP members who see this as a problem are using back channels to try to fill information gaps for Biden’s team.

Trump now hints that he will not sign the legislation that would keep the government funded past December 11. He’s really taking this “settling scores” thing seriously.

November 20, 2020

  • US cases 11,900,015 / deaths 254,332. We lost 1,818 people today.

Trump’s attempts to overturn the election results continue to falter as the GOP continue to remain silent. He touts his accomplishments at the G20, but skips out early to go golfing while the rest of the world leaders stayed on task to discuss strategies for dealing with the global pandemic.

Another bout of insomnia, probably caused by police activity in the neighborhood. Vicki said a car was stolen nearby, and there was police activity at Home Depot (right next door). I pause to remember Chuck, who died 12 years ago today. I finally go to bed at 5:30 AM and wake up 4.5 hours later.

November 21, 2020

  • US cases 12,089,440 / (189,425 new cases in the last 24 hours)
  • US deaths are 255,899 / we lost 1,567 people today
  • There have been 60 million unemployment claims since March
  • 8 million Americans now live in poverty
  • 100,000 businesses have now shuttered permanently
  • A government shutdown is pending December 11. Trump has now raised vet benefits as a stumbling block to passing the omnibus bill and COVID relief.
  • Governor Inslee makes $135 million available to residents and businesses in WA State.

Biden/Harris now have 10 million more votes than any president in history. Biden has 51% of the popular vote vs Trump with +47%. Most states will certify next week and select their electors.

Trump’s legal team continues to try to get ballots tossed out. Their court case count is now 2 wins and 34 losses, some of those ‘with prejudice”, 0 cases showing fraud. Sidney Powell, one of the lawyers who is also a conspiracy theorist, has introduced an amazing stream of semi-consciousness: “Dominion voting machines have been rigged to flip votes in a scheme hatched in Venezuela by Hugo Chavez” (who died in 2013). MSNBC recommends breaking out the tin foil hats…

It’s ironic that the team is contesting the states where Biden has an insurmountable lead. Either they are complete idiots, or ‘fundraising for the legal challenge” is the bigger prize. Tossing out ballots would logically negate down-ticket GOP wins, but I guess that hasn’t occurred to them yet. These actions may also be imperiling the Senate runoff races in Georgia.

50 million Americans are expected to travel this week for Thanksgiving. CNN reports that medical staff no longer feel like heroes – they have become sacrificial lambs who are now treating their own in ICUs as COVID-19 takes its toll on doctors and nurses.

November 23, 2020 – A heavy news day around certifications

  • COVID-19 US cases 12,411,267 / deaths 257,651.
  • Cases in the US have now topped 100,000 a day for the past 20 days.
  • WA State now has 141,260 cases / 2,619 deaths / nearly 10,000 hospitilizations
  • The US is stocked up on ventilators but lacks the technicians to run them.
  • People are canceling their Thanksgiving plans now, although a million people still went through airports on Friday.
  • UPS pilots are now voicing concerns about deliveries being impacted by COVID-19 infections in their crews.
  • More vaccines are surfacing, so there’s hope for spring rather than summer/fall.

Sidney Powell has now been disavowed from Trump’s legal team. “You know you’re crazy when even Giuliani distances himself from you.”

Trump is trying to block certifications in key states. His ploy to warp the electoral college won’t change the results but will cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election. There’s still not a lot of GOP pointing out that this affects Senate races as well as the top-ticket. Such actions also break state constitutions.

Calls continue through the afternoon for Trump to concede. He has now lost Michigan and Pennsylvania, and all viable routes to winning, and yet his enablers persist. At 3:15 PM, Emily at GSA finally ascertains the election and releases the transition resources for Biden/Harris. Trump takes credit in spite of GSA working independently from the White House. We now wonder if Emily will have a job next week.

My nerves are really fried now…

A hat order that was stressing me out, came out better after a do-over. I need to make masks to accompany 2 hat orders and get things into the mail tomorrow. I hope to finish Kate’s dress this weekend as well. I also need to find more light fixtures for this day office. In spite of the limitations, working from home has allowed me to listen to radio and podcasts, and be surrounded by my cats. I’m going to miss that when the office resumes normal operation.

I got out for a walk today but could only manage 4 flights of stairs at the hospital parking garage instead of my goal of 8. There must be 100 shades of dying green in the trees surrounding the cemetery. Colors seem more vibrant than usual on such an overcast day.

November 24, 2020

  • Global case 59,679,996 / deaths 1,407,542
  • US cases 12,589,229 / deaths 259,874. We lost 2,223 people today
  • WA State cases 147,537
  • Hospitalizations now outnumber ICU beds
  • Dr. Fauci now predicts 300,000+ deaths by the end of the year.
  • The new unsung heroes are those who have volunteered to be test subjects for the 3 vaccines, a study that will run for the next 2 years.

The official Christmas Tree arrives at the White House, and is accepted by Melania who is not wearing a mask. The ceremony seems archaic and cheesy. The White House, which has hosted super-spreader events throughout the year, is planning to host several indoor holiday parties. I wonder if “COVID-19 Denial” will be listed as a cause of death on death certificates.

Restaurants receive another blow as the outdoor heated ‘cabanas’ draw speculation that they are no safer than indoor dining. We are at risk of permanently losing 1/3 of our restaurants across the country.

11,000 journalists have also lost their jobs this year.

The Dow surges past 30,000 for the first time, attributed to the GSA ascertation. Biden continues announcing his cabinet picks, which The Hill says “signals a focus on repairing alliances and US standing on the global stage.” We’ll see how confirmations go in the GOP Senate.

Trump’s allies at Fox News start to distance themselves from his attempt to overturn the election results. He has packed the courts but they’re not supporting his efforts. Twitter continues to flag his tweets regarding the election.

And just when I thought my doom-scrolling had come near its end… Trump removes the US from the Open Skies Treaty (a Russian surveillance program dating to 1992) and is destroying the airplanes used to carry out those missions. He has also killed the funding for replacements. His ‘burning down the house’ tactics continue.

The last of my street-level neighbors is moving at the end of the month. I’ll be surrounded by empty apartments and I feel like I’m the last kid on the block. I’ve given up trying to forge friendships here since people only stay for about 6 months. The one neighbor I have socially podded with, needs to go into self isolation in order to attend to an upcoming family matter. The holidays are going to be quiet here, except for the Roman Legion and their herd of dogs upstairs…

I’ve broken 2 sewing machine needles while trying to finish a face mask. I finally got 2 hats ready to ship, and I still have 5-6 hats and a dress to finish by December 15. But instead of sewing, I’m blogging. Writing has become the new procrastination when I’m not doom-scrolling. I should be relieved by Biden’s win but I continue to wait for the next shoe to drop. I’m tired and frustrated with being less productive and focused than I think I should be. It’s like the light at the tunnel’s end is just a mirage.

November 25, 2020

Pfizer will ship 6.4 million does of vaccine across across all 50 states in December. Governors will distribute it to health care workers.

Trump pardons General Flynn, who was awaiting sentencing for felony charges related to the Russia probe, and whom has become so rabid in speech and manner that he is barely recognizable as a US 4-star general. Trump continues to press for overturning the election. “Conclusion” (of election) replaces “concede” as the endgame term Trump can live with. His advisors are pushing him towards transition, not for the sake of the country, but for the sake of his personal brand. Because Every Single Thing Is All About Him.

Biden, in the meantime, gives a Thanksgiving address to the nation. Because that’s what a real president does.

My task this week is to mail our company holiday cards but it’s snafu after snafu, including printer ink that refuses to dry on the labels. I end up applying a clear label over the printed label that has been ‘drying’ for 3 days, which of course takes twice as long, but the cards go out on time. Everything takes 3-5 times longer than it should.

My mail delivery this week comes with an offer of a Thanksgiving plate delivered to my door, if I end up spending the holiday alone. I have the very best boss.

November 26, 2020 – Thanksgiving

  • Global cases 60,719,579 / deaths 1,427,184
  • US cases 12,818,629 / deaths (cannot decipher my notes)
  • The 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic killed 675,000 in the US and shortened life spans by 12 years. We’re over that halfway mark in half the time.
  • The first wave in 1918 killed 3-5 million globally, the 2nd wave in 1919 killed 20-50 million. Food for thought…

SCOTUS overturns NY’s ban on religious gatherings, Trump retweets and adds “Happy Thanksgiving!” Outside of social media, it’s nice to see mainstream media not dominated by Trump today. He’ll have to fight for market share.

The ‘hood is quiet today. Thinking about Mom a lot today. I make good progress on Kate’s dress. Dinner at Payne and Marie’s house was very traditional, served on good china with silver cutlery and the first meal I’ve had, seated at a table, in months. The setting resembled a Rockwell painting. Movies and pie end a nearly perfect day.

November 27, 2020

Turkey and sweet potatoes for breakfast!

  • Global cases 61,240,522 / deaths 1,437,199 (AM report)
  • US cases 13,090,757 (272,128 new) / deaths 264,858 (I think 1,307 since AM)

The top Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated today by Israeli operatives, US involvement is suspected. Any news like this out of Iran puts my nerves on edge.

Work continues on Kate’s dress. I break for a 30 minute walk that turns into an hour and a half. But it was filled with holiday lights, which will now be my motivation for twilight walks through the neighborhoods to the West. I couldn’t help but wonder how many of these families are celebrating Christmas for the last time…

November 28, 2020

  • US cases 13,246,650 ( 90,757 new) / deaths 266,063 (1,205 new).
  • I expect to see spikes next week as reporting catches up with actual case and death counts from the holiday weekend.

Marie drops off some textiles, including lovely black denim which will be turned into NewsGirl hats. Kate’s dress is mostly done, now I’m adding embroidery to hide flaws, and painting ivy on the hem facing so it’s blandness is less blaring.

Trump has now lost 38 of the 39 court cases, 2 of which were dismissed with prejudice, which prevents appeal. He has also convinced his base that the election was rigged. Now the GOP is trying to convince the base that their vote counts in Georgia for the upcoming runoff election. This is what happens when you feed misinformation to your cult.

November 29, 2020

  • Global cases 62,666,504 / deaths 1,458,333
  • US cases 13,374,162 (283,405 new) / deaths 266,838 (1,980 new)

Trump has lost the recounts in WI, PA and GA, the 1st presidential candidate to lose recounts in 2 or more states. Biden actually picked up more votes as a result of those recounts. I wonder if Trump is tired of losing yet. “Trump 2020” campaign signs are now being used as expiration dates.

November 30, 2020

  • Global cases 63,236,804 / deaths 1,467,987
  • US cases 13,541,221 (167,059 new) / deaths 268,045 (1,207 new)
  • US hospitalizations 93,000+ / ICU beds are now at 80% capacity
  • US death rate average is 1,600 per day, almost 1 death per minute
  • WA State cases 165,019 / deaths 2774 / hospitalizations 10,895
  • Household transmission is now the #1 cause of new cases

WA State will receive 2% of available vaccines, which are being distributed on a per capita basis. Our allotment will be enough to vaccinate 150,000-400,000 people, starting with health care workers, high risk first responders, and residents of care facilities. The vaccine is expected to prevent you from becoming ill but may not prevent you from passing COVID-19 on to others. Masks and social distancing will be required for several months yet.

Vaccine availability will be determined by storage capacity. We need 7,000-20,000 lbs of dry ice daily and we do not have this cold chain piece in place yet. Trump’s Operation Warp Speed budgeted for vaccine development but not for distribution.

Trump rushes to finish 450 miles of border wall by January 20 (400 miles are currently in place). About 2/3 of the US-Mexican border remain open, so that last 50 miles will barely make a dent. He also needs to finish his court cases by December 8. He has not proven fraud in the 6 states he contested, but he’s raised $150 million in the process, so it’s not a complete loss for him.

UPS shipments are taking 3 days longer than usual, which has shortened the time frame for my current hat orders. No stress there…

My Pandemic Year: October 2020

October 1, 2020 – Trump tests positive for COVID-19

  • Global cases 1,022,957
  • US cases 7,278,285 / deaths 207,808 (949 Americans died today)

Trump tests positive for COVID-19 and is spending the day golfing at Bedminister. Dr. Gupta wonders why Trump went anywhere today if he was positive. I wonder how his base will react, now that Trump has contracted a virus that he said was a hoax.

NYT reports COVID-19 cases have increased by 25% since September. COVID-19 has eliminated snow days in NYC, now that students attend class from home.

October 2, 2020 – Trump is hospitalized

  • Global deaths 1,026,717
  • US cases 7,331,784 / deaths 208,693 (885 Americans died today)

Today Trump was airlifted to Walter Reed Hospital after he started to exhibit classic symptoms. He’s being treated with an experimental antibody cocktail. I hope he survives but I also hope that he is sick enough that he takes this pandemic more seriously.

Later in the day, reports hint that his condition is worse than originally announced, and there is some speculation that he may need to transfer his power to VP Pence in the short term. Trump is in the high risk morbidity group due to his age and weight. His chief of staff convinced him to be airlifted to Walter Reed while he was still able to walk to the chopper without assistance. Near midnight, he starts taking Remdesivir for ‘sudden onset’ symptoms. Hypoxia is a term making the rounds on Twitter. Dr. Gupta says Remdesivir is usually given to people who are already on supplemental oxygen.

The Rose Garden event (where Amy Barrett was introduced as the SCOTUS nominee) was apparently a super-spreader event. Two senators and three journalists are among the newly infected. The Secret Service are not amused.

In other news, I prep for my 1st virtual art show October 10-11. I’m turning my sewing room into a mini show boot after working out the kinks on the online platform. Vicki is coming over tomorrow to spend time with the cats so I can build out the rest of my ‘booth’ and get a few more hats thrown together, especially the Kraken.

October 4, 2020

Today the doctors gave a more detailed account of Trumps condition, which is substantially worse than we were first told. He’s now on 3 heavy-duty medications – antibody, antiviral and a steroid to improve his lung function. He wants to be released tomorrow because he’s bored, but the treatment will take another 2-3 days and he needs to be in quarantine for an additional 8-14 days beyond that. He says the White House doctors can take care of him. Doctors at Water Reed oppose this plan.

Vicki ended up spending much of the day here yesterday, and returns today. Her keeping the cats busy is really helping me get ready for my show. The Kraken is progressing nicely and a NewsGirl / Apple Cap is on the boards for today. We also took 3 laps around The Rez today which is about 1.5 miles. I end my day with a dinner of salmon and chermoula stuffed delicata squash.

October 5, 2020

As of 9:30 AM: US cases 7,423,328 /deaths 209,857. (1.161 have died since October 2)

Fall has arrived – the trees on the street have turned gold virtually overnight. I had serious insomnia last night which will hamper my day today. I get dressed for a staff meeting and a mid-day walk, and try to build some planking and stretching in to the end of my day as a transition from desk to sewing machine.

Trump returns to the White House tonight. “Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it control your life” is his most damaging Tweet thus far. He has received thousands of dollars in treatments that regular Americans will probably never have access to, especially if Congress and SCOTUS succeed in cutting the ACA. Doctors also warn that the steroids he is on make him feel invincible (Day 1), followed by agitation (Day 3+) and anger (Day 5+), followed by severe depression. Stuff to watch for in the coming days…

October 6, 2020

I slept in this morning and wake up feeling like crap, but don’t have a temp, so I chalk it up to stress. The extra hour in bed helped me to resolve a design flaw on the Kraken. I realize that the show this weekend is East Coast time, so I need to be “live from my studio” starting at 7 AM, and stay there until 5 PM for my West Coast customers. I’m really glad now that I’m taking Monday off.

In COVID-19 news:

  • Trump’s “no fear” statement is being widely criticized.
  • New COVID-19 cases are up 25% per day since September. NYT estimates that today’s cited 210,000 deaths from COVID-19 is probably closer to 275,000, which would include deaths outside of hospitals that have now reached capacity.
  • UW Medical Center is studying long term and rebound effects, some of which are occurring months later in seemingly healthy people (fatigue, anxiety, depression).
  • There are now 30 new cases in the White House, but the White House refuses to do contact tracing from the Rose Garden event.
  • Trump’s doctor, Conley, plans to confine Trump to the residence and a temporary office which has been set up for him in the basement near the medical suite and away from the West Wing. Dr. Conley wants Trump quarantined there unto October 12.
  • White House says all precautions are being taken to protect the 100 staff that serve the residence, many of whom are in high risk groups (age, Latino, Black). I wonder how it will compare to the 1918 flu epidemic when Woodrow Wilson was in the WH.

” He hosted a super-spreader event to honor a justice who would have the government control your body but refuse the duty to care for it – and when the virus he helped to go around came around, availed himself of the healthcare he would deny others, financed by the taxes he refused to pay.” 

Anand Giridharadas, Editor of The Ink

In the category of “Unintended Consequences,” Dune and Batman releases are now postponed until October 2021, resulting in Regal Cinemas closing all locations in the US and Great Britain until further notice.

October 7, 2020 – COVID-19 at Pentagon, Trump returns to the Oval Office

  • US cases 7,506,743 / deaths 211,108
  • We have lost 1,251 Americans since October 5 and now account for 25% of the global death count.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff are now in quarantine, and COVID-19 is now in the Pentagon. White House staff are fearful as Trump breaks his quarantine and returns to the Oval Office today. He insists on flying to the debate next week, and tells Congress today to stop stimulus talks and focus on Barrett’s confirmation. NBC suggests that the heavy steroid treatment Trump received at Walter Reed might be skewing his judgement. He should be reaching the Day 3 Agitation / Anger phase of his steroid use.

My stress level is maxed out today. No temp or shortness of breath, but a mild cough and very tight chest and lightheadedness, which seems to resolve when I step away from my laptop. Maybe I just need to take more breaks from my desk during the day.

I finished the Kraken last night and am much happier with the redo. I need to get the NewsGirl prototype finished and invoices out today in case I unexpectedly get orders at the show this weekend. I still need to wrangle up some charisma and dust off my elevator speech. I’m as ready for this show as I’m going to be.

October 8, 2020

The Pink Elephant Car Wash is being demolished today, and its iconic sign taken down. It was my landmark for locating the bus stop after a day at the Seattle Center. I’m sad.

The first presidential debate was a train wreck, and Trump has bowed out of the next one because the format is virtual and there’s discussion about muting the mikes when it’s the other candidate’s turn to speak. He acts as though he isn’t contagious (and has said he is now immune). The VP debates were mostly civil. I didn’t watch any of them, will read the analyses and fact-checks today. Also saw that Seattle is at risk of losing federal funding after being designated an “anarchist jurisdiction.” We still don’t know what that means aside from a potential loss of funding…

Ran out of cat food (where did the week go?) so Vicki took me to the store and then for a walk at the Rez. The skyline was once again hazy from the ‘giga-fire’ on the CA/OR border that has so far consumed 1.4 million acres.

October 9, 2020

Trump is still on steroids and off his rocker. He’s called for the arrest of Biden and others. Pelosi is assembling a 25th Amendment Commission, “not to target Trump specifically but to have a system in place for future issues” (i.e. Trump specifically). There’s some speculation that he’s really angry today at not being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize that he was certain he deserved.

October 11, 2020

Woke up at 4 AM for the second day in a row. Up at 5:30 for the second day of my art show. My stock from Tubac arrived just in time so I had a full booth for the weekend. I sold 2 hats yesterday and had almost 300 visitors to my website. Vicki has spent the weekend managing the cats so they wouldn’t interrupt me during my show. She’s been a tremendous help.

Next week I’ll ship hats to Yreka and Peters Valley. I need to check in with my doctor to let her know I have survived COVID-19 thus far. My tight chest has now mostly dissipated. Staying off the news cycle definitely helps with that. But like a lemming to the sea, once the show ended, I was back to scanning the news.

Trump continues to call for Biden, Hillary and Obama to be arrested. The transfer of power in January is going to be a bloodbath. His own party doesn’t seem to fully support him but is not reining him in either. I wonder if Pelosi’s 25th Amendment Commission will be on standby to remove him after the election in November. Pence would need to be on board with that as well as Trump’s doctors, who we now suspect were forced to sign NDAs at Walter Reed, like they did during the mystery hospitalization in November 2019.

You’d think a virtual art show wouldn’t be much different from a regular WFH day, but I’m almost as exhausted as I would be had it been a physical show. Which at this point, I don’t think I am physically capable of doing. But I remember that I’ve been up since 4 AM. It’s now 7 PM and I’m ready to end my day. I’m asleep by 8:30 but awake again at midnight. Damn sleep cycle is all messed up. I answer emails and Facebook hat order queries until 2 AM. My first custom Kraken order comes through, with a 30% tip!

October 12, 2020

COVID-19 infections near 40 million globally, the US has had 214,000+ deaths as of today.

SCOTUS confirmation for Amy Barrett is pretty much a done deal. Her religious sect is a bit of a sticking point but I’m sure the GOP won’t have a problem with a ‘handmaid who submits to her husband’s opinions.”

Stellar jays visit my patio today. A fuschia and my Russian Sage are in a second bloom. My cedar tree is trying to die. My Dragon Tree is holding its own. Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend reminded me that I forgot Chuck’s birthday. He would have turned 54.

October 13, 2020

COVID-19 deaths today are 1,082,928 globally, and 215,439 in the US.

Barrett confirmation hearings continue. Hope springs eternal that a handful of GOP will cross the aisle and vote against confirmation, though that is pretty unlikely. Most of them are so intent to ram this through that they are putting off getting tested for COVID-19 so they don’t test positive, which would prevent them from attending the vote.

A third wave of COVID-19 is now active in 13 states. We’re back to square one on hospital beds. A second governor was reportedly the subject of a kidnapping plot by a far right militia group who were unhappy over the lockdown in their state. Fifteen people were ultimately arrested.

October 14, 2020

COVID-19 deaths today are 216,734. We’ve lost 1,295 Americans since yesterday.

Every little thing stresses me out now. I plan to take more cat breaks, and look for more immersive projects at my desk. Boredom is as bad as burnout. A suddenly sunny afternoon spurs me to take a walk to mail a hat order.

Trump continues his rallies, continues to say he’s immune, and now says a cure is on its way, which is a fallacy. Herd immunity (rather than vaccines) is now the WH plan. COVID-19 cases are increasing in several states. I wonder how many people will die before the election, and if that is part of the master plan.

SCOTUS confirmation hearing is going as expected, with no real questions being asked by GOP and no real answers being given to the Dems. Her evasion technique is masterful and I can only hope that she is as open-minded on the bench as she claims to be during these hearings.

The next presidential debate has been replaced by separate town halls, which ABC and NBC will broadcast simultaneously. I won’t watch or listen to either of them.

October 16, 2020 – 390,000 deaths forecast by February 1…

It’s 3 AM. I had zero productivity today between 5:30 PM and bedtime. Fell asleep watching a movie but was wide awake two hours later. Up and out of bed at 8:15.

COVID-19 deaths in the US today total 218,556, with 652 deaths in just the last 12 hours. We are nearing 8 million cases, with most states now recording new cases in double digits. Contrary to Trumps claims of immunity, second infections are now being reported (1 global case last week, 20 this week), with the second round being much worse than the first. A variant emerges. Models predict 390,000 total deaths by February 1 in the absence of a national mask mandate.

Biden’s town hall last night had 1 million more viewers on his single network, than Trump had on 3 networks. Trump now has 3 rallies scheduled every day until the election.

October 18, 2020 – Pumpkin shopping

I wake up tired. I shouldn’t be this tired, and can barely abide the thought of climbing into real clothes for our field trip today. I pack some things to work on while Vicki takes us to Snohomish.

The town of Snohomish is lined with clear tents outside of restaurants, all the same style – clear sides, white roofs, about 10′ x 20′. I’m not sure how enclosed outdoor seating is safer than indoor seating, maybe it just increases their total seating capacity. We’re looking for Vicki’s favorite pumpkin field which we never do find, but we stop by the Yakima Fruit Stand in Bothel on our way home. It was pretty crowded so I try to stay outside. Vicki rarely buys things on these various missions, I often do, but this time we just admire the shapes, color and varieties of pumpkins, especially the celadon ones.

October 20, 2020

Insomnia hits again last night. That probably explains my frequent fatigue. I introduce Vicki to Goodies, my favorite Turkish grocer. I had forgotten how much I miss that place.

I get 3 months of expenses done at my work desk, and make progress on selecting a Medicare plan. I devise a plan to make staff birthday cards from old travel maps, and purchase bookstore gift cards since the Starbucks near our office are now closed. I end the day with a dozen hat orders and a feeling of being productive at long last.

October 21, 2020 – China and Trump

NYT breaks a story about Trump having a bank account in China and has paid $200,000+ in taxes, vs the $700 or so that he paid in US taxes last year. China paid him $17 million on his inauguration, from which he withdrew $15 million in cash for his personal account. Iran and China have information from voters in Florida and are reportedly sending threatening emails to Democrats in the guise of Proud Boys. It’s a wacky and yet somehow predictable episode in the continuing election saga.

Also today, Netflix sends me an episode of Mr. Robot (Season 3, disc 1) which talks about China backing Trump for president. The episode was produced in 2017. Which leaves me pretty well freaked out for the next several days…

October 22, 2020 – Appliance shortage

COVID-19 deaths in the US are now 223,032, with 1100 new cases. A “dark winter’ is forecast. The EU has also had a dramatic increase. Deaths are still low but long term health care is an issue that no one seems to be talking about.

The unintended consequences of COVID-19 now include a shortage of appliances (dishwashers, refrigerators and ovens) as well as a shortage of people to repair them. Stay-at-home orders mean appliances are getting heavier usage. Repair people are now booked a month out. There’s a shortage of parts. We’re expanding the definition of “essential worker.” Families are reporting ‘being broken by having to wash dishes by hand” and are now buying more disposables. God forbid they ever have to hand wash their laundry…

October 25, 2020

COVID-19 total deaths today: 225,001. New forecasts predict 500,000 deaths by February 2021. The WH officially gives up on containment and focuses on vaccines and therapeutics. Dr. Fauci says a vaccine might be approved as early as December but will not be widely available for six months after that. Pence’s chief of staff tests positive but Pence continues to campaign because Trump considers him an essential worker.

Trump signs an executive order which changes the civil service to political appointees. MSNBC says that Dr. Fauci (and every other doctor and scientist who are not loyal to Trump) can be fired at will.

October 26, 2020

Amy Barrett is confirmed by the Senate and is sworn in almost immediately. The hypocrisy is astounding. MSNBC publishes a list of people Trump intends to fire during his second term, which includes the heads of the FBI and the CIA. An interesting move for a “Law and Order President.”

Hat orders are progressing and my achievement today aside from abstaining from most of the news cycle, is ‘perfect pancakes’, fluffy with a crunch from the cornmeal. Ayran might be my new secret ingredient, and my never before used cast iron skillet, my new favorite cookware.

October 28, 2020

There are 73,200 new COVID-19 cases in the US today.

My fuschia is blooming. I set up an ofrendas on my desk today, with pan du muerto and paper banners I procured on a shopping trip with Vicki yesterday. The paper banners make me very happy.

Stock markets drop again today for the third time, after the Senate goes on recess, having confirmed the new SCOTUS pick but ignoring the next COVID-19 relief package. Eviction moratoriums have now expired in several states. Happy Holidays! Never have I seen a Congress who holds in such low regard the very people they are elected to serve. If every one of them loses their seat in the upcoming election, those losses will be well deserved.

October 29, 2020

  • Global cases 44,684,011 / deaths 1,176,726
  • US cases 8,881,087 / deaths 227,986
  • US cases and deaths have nearly doubled in the past 3 months
  • A case has been confirmed in our office building downtown on Floor 2 (we are 1 of 2 tenants in our building)

There are still concerns about long-term effects and health coverage should the ACA fail.

My election anxiety is getting bad and I’m back to stress eating, I must have had 6 meals yesterday, and slept badly as a result. A treat bag arrives and I try to eat half of it over the course of this ridiculous day. Too stressed out to touch hats, a stack of Vanity Fair magazines takes up my evening.

October 30, 2020

  • US cases 9,036,678 (155,591 new cases since yesterday)
  • US deaths 229,585 (1,599 new since yesterday)
  • The spread is significant along the US/Canada border and along the entire West Coast and Alaska. Canada is doing a much better job at containment.

I garbed up as a modern day Catrina for a Zoom happy hour at work. Vicki showed up at lunchtime with long stemmed marigolds, and off we went to the graveyard across the street for a quick photo shoot. In the absence of having a family grave, I decorated the mausoleum of a local founder with bird-friendly offerings for Dia de los Muertos. It was a fun and needed break to the week.

October 31, 2020

  • US cases 9,122,144 (85,466 new) / deaths 230,502 (917 died today)

Germany shut down their bars earlier this week. The UK shuts down today for a month. Mexico is shutting their graveyards November 1-2 so families are trying to visit graves today to honor their dead. November is anticipated to be awful on nearly every level. Trump is back to calling COVID-19 a hoax which will vanish on November 4

Sean Connery died today.

My Pandemic Year: September 2020

September 1, 2020 – COVID dreams and conspiracies

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. 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 isn’t speaking. At 4 AM my phone wakes me up, it doesn’t stop ringing for about 45 minutes and I couldn’t even power it off. Later that morning, I find that my favorite neighbors had moved without saying 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 US 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 plane full 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. It must be Weird World Day.

Local news reports draw a sorry picture of downtown Seattle. Bartells Drugs 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 supplying 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 skeptical of this deadline and warns again that releasing vaccines 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 a survivalist. 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 this pandemic landscape. I have been goaded by my neighbor to schedule a flu shot for the first time in a decade (due to a history of adverse reactions). 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.

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 following any of those lists. I’ve even stopped checking Facebook. Between Zuckerberg being a jerk, and a lack of empathic capacity on my part, I just can’t deal with personal interactions on social media 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 SAD (seasonal affective disorder) may be more significant this winter than normal. I’m apprehensive about my flu shot on Friday. 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 Rez two days ago. I wonder if the sky in Seattle 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 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. If he acknowledged 9/11 today, I didn’t see it. Every day proves him to be the eternal a-hole.

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 symptoms 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 the apartment management hadn’t removed our ceiling fans during last year’s renovations.

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 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.

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 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.
  • Chad Wolfe 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. It’s going to take decades to undo the damage this administration is inflicting.

September 18, 2020 – Justice Ginsberg

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. The day ends on good news, with Federal judges stepping up to “not pause the census” and “restore the USPS.”

Rosh Hashanah. Justice Ginsberg dies. Mitch McConnell decides, no time wasted. 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.

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…

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. I really need to make better use of my time, if for no other reason than to distract me from the state of disregard we are 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 – 200,000

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.

The latest round of fever spikes have stopped 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 procrastinate more than I do meaningful tasks.

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 yarn ties is a mindless thing to keep my hands busy while I’m watching movies or newscasts. 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).

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.

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, reportedly the first woman to be accorded that honor. I spent an hour watching C-SPAN coverage. Two women served as pallbearers.

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. I’m having trouble managing my anxiety. I’m getting really tired of all of this.

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. 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. The mystery orange googley eye that appeared on the corner of my sewing table last week 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 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.)

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 not watching it.

I’m completely unmotivated in spite of my upcoming art show. 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 and offering 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. This country is a hot steaming mess on pretty much every front.

September 30, 2020

Today’s COVID-19 numbers:

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

I woke up late and angry again. The upstairs neighbors are heavy walkers and chase their dogs from one end of their living room to the other. 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.

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.” It’s evil to laugh out loud but I do anyway.

My Pandemic Year: August 2020

August 1, 2020 – A ghost town, and Blursday

Vicki and I drove to the Seattle Rep yesterday with a trunk load of food and masks to donate to WASHMask, who was collecting for agricultural workers. Of all the essential workers we have, our field and packing house workers are among the most essential and the least supported.

Third Avenue is a ghost town, with businesses boarded up for several blocks as a precaution against the continuing evening demonstrations. There are very few people walking around and I don’t see any of the regulars. Vehicle traffic was still pretty heavy. Buses remain infrequent. Our office building is among the ones that are boarded up and I had to use the call box to be let in. Once upstairs, I grabbed everything I thought I would need for the next six months, cleared out several dead plants, and grouped the remaining plants together to make it easier for the solo staff person to water. I don’t know when I’ll be back.

Federal troops have been withdrawn from Portland, and (surprise surprise) the last two nights have been peaceful. There has been a focus on the number of black people getting arrested in spite of the majority of the demonstrators being white.

The Michigan State Capitol was stormed by armed white militia, I think to protest the COVID-19 lockdowns. The White House seemed to condone the behavior. Also this week, Trump suggested postponing the election. Analysts surmise that his goal isn’t actually to postpone, but to delegitimize the results of the November election. It’s like he senses that he’s not going to win this time.

Feelings of being trapped have picked up again this week and “Blursday” has set in. I have to check my laptop to figure out what day it is, and I’m ‘losing my words’ more frequently which is a little distressing. I think it’s a lack of stimulation. I need to shake things up a bit and find some immersive projects. “Is this what retirement is going to look like” has become a recurring, nagging question.

So I applied to the Betty Bowen Awards (for the third time in as many years) and accepted an invitation to participate in a virtual art show in October at Peters Valley School of Craft. I think about starting some new hats for Brookfield Craft Center now that they have re-opened their gallery (with COVID-19 precautions in place). Tubac Center and I have come to a mutual agreement that my hats are not a good fit for them, so they are shipping their stock back, which I hope arrives in time for the Peters Valley show. The “Seattle Krakens” was announced as the name of our new hockey team, so now I have an excuse to make that kraken cap that’s been on my design board since my steampunk days.

I go on a spending spree, buying new dishes “not from the thrift store’, an outdoor carpet to cover my ugly cement porch, and too many videos.

I would normally be writing travel journals right now, so I’m now going back to old travel journals and extracting museum visits for my company newsletter, and sent a sample to the Mainly Museums website. If I’m accepted, the two projects would dovetail nicely.

I subscribed to the Disney Channel so I could see Hamilton. A friend suggested that I turn on the closed captioning, which was the only way I could understand the dialog. I was not expecting 2 hours of rap, which grated on my nerves. The script was good but the acting was patchy. I loved the actor who played Jefferson, but I was disappointed in Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose performance seemed flat. Now that I’m on Disney, I’m watching all the Marvel Comic franchise. The Avengers Affinity Wars was hard to sit through but it led to End Game which is good, but sad since it really is the End of the Game for Tony Stark. Green Arrow on Netflix also ends this week. So now I’m all melancholy…

August 2, 2020

I receive a spur of the moment invite to spend the afternoon at Payne and Marie’s house. We shared a socially distanced meal on their deck, and Payne guided me through the proper sequence for watching the Marvel franchise. I returned home to two very hungry cats whom I had forgotten to feed before I left … oops…

August 8, 2020 – Travel journal project

My first submission to Mainly Museums was accepted last week, and it appears I will be a weekly contributor. I have a list of about 40 museums and 15 exhibits to write reviews for. I’m excited at having something new to do, even if it is just rehashing stuff I’ve already written. It also launches a retirement project of converting my travel journals and photo collections – currently scattered across various websites, USB drives, photo discs and CDs – into a series of hard copy books. When I die, my websites die with me, and I’ve sorted through enough of my deceased friends’s photos and files to understand the value of leaving behind a more cohesive and organized record. It’s a sizable project that will probably keep me busy until the world ends…

August 10, 2020

Vicki and I visited a garden in Bellevue today. We walk a couple of times a week, usually at The Rez (a nearby park named after a reservoir), or just take a drive to break up the monotony of apartment living during a lockdown. I spend my days in a 10×10 foot room, sitting in front of a laptop, and my evenings in my 10×20 foot room, at my sewing machine, churning out masks. Blursday. Blursnight. Whatever.

August 28, 2020 – Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman died today, age 43, from colon cancer that he had been battling since 2016. His death was a shock to nearly everyone in his social circle, many of whom wondered how he had managed to keep his diagnosis and chemo schedule secret from them. The Black Panther franchise has now been thrown into question.

I have not done well with keeping this journal this month. Perhaps I’m too tired, or too overwhelmed. There’s a dichotomy between how slow my daily life is and how fast the news cycle continues to be. Some days I cannot keep up, other days I simply choose not to…

My Pandemic Year: July 2020

July 10, 2020

I have not been feeling well for the last week or two and I’m back to sleeping 12 hours a day. A 3-day weekend starts tonight and I’m determined to not fritter it away like I did over the Fourth of July 4th. I plan to catch up on back orders for hats, and get another shipment of masks out or Yakima. I’m also upgrading my studio with a new, sleeker postage scale and setting up accounts at USPS, UPS and Office Depot.

July 11, 2020 – Roger Stone commuted

Trump commuted Roger Stone’s sentence today. He’s trying to force schools to open. He’s trying to get the CDC to revise their COVID-19 guidelines. He’s trying to get the FDA to re-authorize hydroxychloroquine, which the FDA withdrew approval from after finding it ineffective at best, and in some cases, downright dangerous. Trump wants to be the savior but is actually the destroyer.

My fever finally resolved and my weight is getting back to a more optimal level. Nausea and tight chest will not go away but I think that’s stress, which has become a cumulative condition.

July 18, 2020 – John Lewis

I woke up at 5 AM, too early to do anything other than design work in my head.

John Lewis died today. He was a civil rights icon and one of our few remaining moral compasses in the Senate. Pancreatic cancer took him at age 80.

I’m now watching a Milan fashion show video, which includes behind the scenes stuff with a designer I’ve never heard of, in a combination of interview and Zoom formats. It feels like talk radio in video format and I lose interest in it pretty quickly. Some things just don’t translate well to Zoom format.

I hope to finish masks today for agricultural workers in Yakima, and start on Karen’s Topkapi (a painted linen crown to overlay on her straw broad-brim hat). I’ve got a pair of caps that I need to finish before January but the design just isn’t gelling.

Vicki and I end the night at the Edmonds Bluff, watching the Neowise Comet. It wasn’t much more than a smudge, but I watched it through my binoculars for about half an hour. We walked around town a bit afterwards, and found the historic district – four blocks on one street – but it was too dark to read the placards. We plan to come back during daylight hours.

July 19, 2020 – Portland riots

The riots in Portland are getting really bad. “Feds” in camo uniforms with no insignia are loading people into unmarked vans which is escalating the situation. Locals are calling it kidnapping rather than arresting, and no one knows where the people are being taken to. Oregon state senators are trying to stop the practice. The whole thing looks really suspect, like vigilantes ’rounding up liberals’ rather than Federal officers protecting life and property and attempting to maintain some semblance of order.

Fires inside the police union building are being set by the police, who are blaming protestors, according to first hand accounts on Twitter. It’s dystopian.

July 26, 2020

The riots and ‘kidnapping/arrests’ in Portland continue, and the “Feds” have now arrived in Seattle. Solidarity marches are now being held in several cities across the country.

John Lewis’s casket is taken by horse & carriage past several civil rights monuments, and across the Pettus Bridge, that we hope will be renamed after him. The pavement was strewn with red rose petals for much of that span. He will lie in state at the Capitol Rotunda Monday and Tuesday.

Olivia deHaviland died today at age 104. She was the last surviving cast member from Gone With The Wind. That film has recently become a point of contention in the BLM.

I spent the weekend at Virtual San Diego Comicon, which was a fun diversion. I am finishing 50 masks for the WASHmask mask & food drive this weekend. The collection point is at the Seattle Rep Theater at the Seattle Center. Vicki offered to drive me there, we both hope the protests don’t put a dent in that plan.

July 27, 2020 – John Lewis lies in State

It’s 11 AM and I’m watching the arrival of John Lewis’ casket at the rotunda for a private service for Congress (televised on C-SPAN). He will lie in state tonight and tomorrow on the Capitol steps for outdoor viewing, in keeping with COVID-19 guidelines. It ‘s really something seeing the process of carrying his coffin up that huge flight of stairs leading into the Rotunda. I wonder how long they have to practice in keeping the coffin level going up and down those stairs. His honor guards are all wearing black masks, which adds to the mournfulness of the day. How difficult it must be to stare at that casket without crying, especially at night when you’re pretty much the only one there.

The Senate has lost its Lion’s voice and moral compass with this passing. I don’t know if those shoes can even be filled right now. Or ever again.

Vice President Pence will pay his respects tonight but Trump appears to have no plans to do so. Yet Another Fail in a year of constant fails.

My Pandemic Year: June 2020

June 1, 2020 – Protests continue

Protests continue, with looting. This isn’t about George Floyd or BLM anymore, it’s been co-opted into something else. Renton and Kirkland are suggesting city-wide closures at 1 PM today. Alderwood and Lynnwood Malls are closed after Southcenter Mall was targeted this morning. Cops are beating protestors and journalists but are leaving the looters to their own devices. Trump tried to declare martial law by threatening to send the US military to every city where rioting is out of control under the Insurrection Act. But under the Posse Comitatus Act, governors need to invite federal assistance to their state. It cannot be forced upon them.

June 5, 2020 – BLM Plaza in DC

Nightly protests turn peaceful in Seattle, after the curfew is lifted and conversations are held between the protestors and tMayor Durkin and the Chief of Police Carmen Best. Our office downtown is broken into for the second time in as many weeks. Nothing stolen, as we had already secured everything of value after the last break-in.

The Pentagon and the Mayor of DC are asking Trump to disarm military personnel in DC, many of whom do not have identifying insignia on their uniforms. The Mayor renames a 2 block section of 16th Ave “Black Lives Matters Plaza” and commissions the painting of huge yellow lettering on the pavement leading up to the White House. The White House and grounds are now surrounded by an 8′ tall metal mesh fence, behind a 3′ tall barricade which is behind a concrete barrier.

I’ve had crying jags several days this week and gained 3 pounds overnight, which I attribute to elevated cortisol levels from near-continuous meltdowns. Insomnia last night means that mental fatigue rules my day today. I hope to finish a project this weekend. Any project will do…

June 7, 2020 – Protests go global

Floyd / BLM protests have now gone global in spite of the pandemic. Local protests continue to be more peaceful as curfews lift and the protesters police their own against looters. Teargas is now banned in Seattle. Elsewhere, officers are now being charged with assault for using excessive force resulting in broken bones and stitched up heads.

Trump withdraws the National Guard from downtown DC, citing a fewer-than-expected numbers of protesters (one million were expected but only 10,000 showed up). Protests have not stopped but I guess Trump feels safer behind his wall now. The question about the ‘secret police’ remains unanswered. It is rumored that some of the military units were actually civilian militias (i.e. Proud Boys and their ilk), although we will probably never know.

Today, after Colin Kaepernick first took a knee in 2016, the NFL apologizes to its players and allows them to kneel during the national anthem. I can only hope that this maelstrom of actions leads to lasting and meaningful change. “The Best Things White People Can Do Is Listen.”

June 8, 2020 – Protests continue

These are the most tumultuous times since the 1960’s. We are now into 9 days of daily protests. Demonstrations cover much of the city, stretching even to Northgate. There are growing concerns about COVID-19 spikes (which is one of the reasons that tear gas has been banned here). We’ll see what next week’s numbers reflect.

Trump appears to be losing footing with his generals and at least one former president (Bush). Biden might turn Texas blue during the election, which is said to be one of the political death knells for Trump’s second term. WE SHALL SEE.

Asians are handing out paper cranes of peace. Quakers sit nearby with a sign that says “End White Silence.” The Amish and Wiccan are said to have joined forces earlier in the week. Strange bedfellows heralding the end of things as they currently are…

June 10, 2020 – 2 million cases

  • We reached 2 million COVID-19 cases in the US today, and 112,000+ deaths.
  • Confederate flags are banned at NASCAR.
  • Confederate statues are being toppled in both the US and UK.
  • White people are trying to do the right thing. I hope it is sustainable.

June 13, 2020

The most descriptive Tweet of the day so far: “I am presently experiencing life at a rate of several WTF’s per hour.”

I am listless today. AGAIN. But at least my house is clean now. I started a new eating plan called “The 8 Hour Window” which restricts your eating to 8 hours a day, and abstaining from the other 16 (fluids OK). It may help me to curb my stress eating and boredom grazing when it kicks in in about 2 weeks. I’m 6 pounds heavier than I was in January, and 16 pounds over my goal weight.

I’m still musing on early retirement, but if this is what retirement is going to look like, it fairly well sucks. I do much better on days when I can submerse myself in a project, elsewise my news-scrolling continues with every breaking alert email that crosses my work desk. I know I should be doing better but I’m having a heck of a time getting myself over this hump.

June 21, 2020 – Tulsa rally and doom-scrolling

Today is Father’s Day, which I have ignored since Dad died in 2008. I try to stay off of social media on holidays, having lost most of my bandwidth for “all the feels.”

The political pendulum seems to be swinging back to a more reasonable world as BLM protests continue to shed light on police departments, which are now being evaluated, defunded in some cities and re-organized in others.

Trump’s 1st post-COVID-19 rally in Tulsa was a phenomenal flop. Trump was expecting 1 million people, but only 6,200 showed up. Fox News reported that 5.3 million viewers tuned in, but that didn’t seem to lighten Trump’s mood any.

Kpop (a Korean boy band and activist group) was credited with convincing their fans to reserve tickets. Pascale, Trump’s campaign manager, failed to include an “I’m over 18” checkbox on the reservation form, which not only enabled the teens to do this thing, but also resulted in Pascale breaking a law about collecting personal info from minors. The teens said no laws were broken, since “TikTokTeens” and “Kpop-stans” are smart enough to provide burner phones and fake emails on forms. It did make for delicious reading for a couple of hours last night…

Today I’m back to mask making, this batch for Yakima which is now the COVID-19 hotspot in the state. Seattle is opening back up but I’m seeing fewer masks on people, especially outdoors, though perhaps it is because the risk is though to be lower. Most businesses require masks upon entry. Theaters and restaurants will re-open next week, but I’m not game enough to go back to those yet.

Doom-scrolling has become a commonly used phrase to describe “checking social media relentlessly for apocalyptic updates.” People are getting swallowed up by the fast-moving news cycle, myself included.

June 23, 2020 – 4000+ daily COVID-19 cases

My sleep was disrupted by muscle cramps and knee pain. Today is off to a groggy start.

All indications in the news point to serious trouble in Trump’s campaign. Every step he takes turns even his supporters away – DACA, Tulsa, COVID-19 and now the firing of the Attorney General for New York. The Voice of America is also being dismantled and re-crafted as another mouthpiece for Trump, with the firing of staff and board members globally on Friday night. The purge continues but maybe momentum is building behind the curtain to stop it. (Friday night firings have become a thing for this administration.)

Coronavirus has hit the largest single day case count on record (4,000+) and is now being described as a forest fire rather than a series of waves. It’s also gaining credence as a main contributor to the Tulsa rally fiasco. From the headlines in the Seattle Times today, people remain hesitant to resume “life as normal,” including me.

Police reform bills continue a fight between House and Senate. Six black men have been found lynched over the past several days. A noose was found in the garage of the only black driver on the NASCAR circuit. At some point, white supremacists need to be tagged as domestic terrorists.

June 24, 2020 – Mask mandate and travel bans

  • US daily cases are now 36,000+
  • US total cases – 2,280,065. Brazil is next highest with 1,188,631. All other countries are below 600,000.
  • US deaths as of today – 121,965
  • Global cases now past 9.4 million, global deaths – 482,105 with a continued upward trajectory.

Governor Inslee mandates mask wearing by Friday in all public spaces, both indoors and out. Non-compliance is a misdemeanor although I hope they hand out masks rather than tickets.

The EU is considering banning travel from the US as we now account for 25% of worldwide COVID-19 cases, and our daily totals are going back up. Cases in some states (TX, AZ, CA) have more than doubled since Memorial Day, which I think might be a harsher uptick than was expected. Yakima has now run out of ICU beds.

Dr. Fauci and followers are growing concerned that the mix of COVID-19 and seasonal flu are going to be lethal this fall.

Dow Jones dropped 709 points today. The global economy is forecast to shrink by 4.9% which is worse than expected.

Stress eating has resumed after falling ill 3 days into the 8:16 eating plan, which I have now discontinued.

Nooses, lynchings and threats towards people of color, continue.

June 26, 2020 – The Memorial Day surge begins

  • US has 40,000 new COVID-19 cases today. The Memorial Day surge has started.
  • Texas and Florida are panicking and are considering going back into lockdown.
  • US is pretty much out of control regarding COVID-19 mitigation.

There is no good news today on any level. I’ll try to stay off the news this weekend. I need to be at my sewing machine, churning out masks for another shipment to Yakima.

I’m using a folding patio chair at my work desk, which I add pads to today after feeling like I’m being electrocuted every time I sit down. At one point today, every nerve ending felt like it was on fire. My bad for sitting at my computer for 14 hours a day with very few breaks over the last two weeks, but it was the only way I could get about 1,000 pages of grant applications uploaded to a .gov system by deadline. I miss my proper desk and chair at my proper office.

June 27, 2020 – Shopping

  • We set a new daily record of COVID-19 cases today of 45,942, the Memorial Day surge we were expecting.
  • Florida is closing bars ASAP and beaches on July 4.
  • US cases 2,507,874 / deaths 125,504
  • Global cases 9,949,767 / deaths 498,100
  • Mortality rate in the US is currently 5.1%, ranked 5th in the world behind the UK (14.9%), Mexico, Ecuador and Indonesia.
  • It is estimated that 1 out of 10 Americans are now infected.
  • Americans are now banned from travel to the UK until further notice.

I don’t think I’m traveling anywhere this year, and 2021 is starting to look doubtful.

Vicki (my upstairs neighbor) and I went to Third Place Books today. We waited in line because occupancy was limited to a dozen customers, with masks required and a 30 minute limit on shopping. It’s not enough time to properly browse at a bookstore, and I was hesitant to even pick books up to flip through them. QFC was a similar experience but we were able to stock up on vodka and gin. There was such a long line outside of an Uwajimaya that we didn’t even try. Swanson’s Nursery was shopping by appointment only. Don’t even think about shopping at Home Depot on a Saturday, again, long lines and controlled capacity inside the store. It’s crazy.

June 30, 2020 – Travel bans and bounties

  • The US is now officially banned from travel to Europe (not just the UK).
  • Some US states are now banning travel to selected other states.
  • Openings are now being rolled back.
  • Fall is now expected to bring COVID-19 Round 2, a new seasonal flu, and a new H1N1 swine flu. There is still no national plan.
  • Our office has reopened on a voluntary basis, with a limit of 10 staff per day. We are strongly encouraged to continue to work from home.
  • Following my boss’s suggestion, I ordered an office chair today, as I suspect I may be working from home for a few more months yet.
  • COVID-19 cases are now rising in 36 states. We’re a steaming hot mess due to the inactions of this administration.

Today’s other news trauma is the Russians paying bounties to the Taliban for American soldiers in Afghanistan. The issue apparently dates to February/March 2019 but the White House denies knowledge of it and blames the press.

The Supreme Court rules on Trump’s taxes in the next week or two. There’s special interest in Russian deposits in Trump’s accounts with an implied tie-in to the Taliban bounty issue.

I shipped masks to Yakima today and started embroidery on Kate’s dress which is due in September.

My Pandemic Year: May 2020

May 1, 2020 – COVID dreams

After a week of insomnia and several weeks of no dreams at all, I experience my first COVID-19 dream. I’m making a chainmail camail from soda can pop-tops, while having an animated conversation with a coworker that I rarely interact with even when our office is open. It felt so real I woke up with sore fingers. Kate reminds me that it is Beltane, and the veil is as thin now as it is at Samhain.

SCA events have now been cancelled and those couples who are currently reigning as King and Queen will continue to rule until future notice. Two projects I was working on, I have now put on the back burner.

May 2, 2020

I’m finishing the last of my donation face masks for awhile. I’ve now donated 300 to various organizations though I am still far short of the 450 that I committed to for Days for Girls. Today I’m shifting to my “Fancy Face” line of masks in brocades and silks, with 50-70% of the selling price benefiting food banks.

I need to attend to commissions and get my hats back into public view. Peters Valley School of Craft has now announced that they will be closed through 2020 and I expect zero holiday sales there now. Creative Minds is still tentative. I’m now waiting for my other galleries to follow suite.

Washington State has extended lockdown through May 25 or May 30.

May 5, 2020

I noted on April 19 that as Trump was tweeting to “liberate states” from lockdown and that in 14-18 days there would be a spike in cases. Sure enough – 2,418 deaths today, reversing the downward trend from April 28.

I had a really productive weekend, but I’m disappointed with the pair of unproductive days at my desk and I’m just tired of everything. But grant writing season will start soon, so I’ll have plenty of work to focus on.

My government stimulus check arrived ($1200) so I donated about $1500 to charities today on “GiveBig Tuesday”. A check for Mom also arrives, which I promptly void. I add the letter, signed by Trump, to her archives. Maybe it will be worth some money when it becomes a historical artifact.

May 8, 2020 – Reopenings and disappointments

  • Total US deaths 75,852
  • Total US cases 1,259,777
  • The Senate is still trying to dismantle ObamaCare. Because they are idiots.

Today is the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII in Europe. I wake up with a scratchy throat and a mild fever.

Businesses are starting to reopen but are disappointed by the lack of customers. I think fear and lack of money will keep things shut down for awhile. Unemployment rate is 14.4%, and 20.5 million people have lost their jobs. Hospitals are now considering bankruptcy since they have had to postpone the elective surgeries that are their biggest profit center.

There’s a noticeable decline in Facebook posts, and Twitter trends are mostly sports and K-Pop. The news remains focused on COVID-19 and I’m not reading as much of it now. I’m still musing on early retirement. I’m also musing on why I have so much creative work to do, but so little motivation.

Tonight, Vicki and I went to the Target rooftop parking garage to watch the rising of the last Super Moon of 2020. I’ve never seen Northgate from this perspective and think this should be a restaurant instead of a parking lot. I’ll try to come back for the next meteor shower as it is a nice, unimpeded view of the night sky.

May 10, 2020 – Mother’s Day

It’s my first Mother’s Day without a mother. I plan to stay off of social media today.

May 14, 2020 – Up, down, and sideways

It’s not a bad day, not a good day, every day seems to be the same as the last. I’ve barely left my desk today, and now its 8:30 PM and I don’t have any motivation to do anything but continue to scroll through the news. The only thing that seems to change is that politics are getting more perverse, and people in general are getting more stupid.

It dawns on me that my lack of motivation might be linked to my inability to make plans for the future – no travel, no vacation plans, no new hat sales. I’m having troubles reading books, I just re-read the same page over and over before putting the book down. The only thing I’m doing now is charity work. I wonder if Mom spent so much time doing the same thing (knitting scarves, making candles for church bazaars), because it was the only outlet available to her to break up the tedium of life alone at home.

  • Court rules today that emolument case can proceed against Trump.
  • Wisconsin court overturns the governor’s stay at home order, and a bar fills with a crowd of unmasked patrons in about 45 minutes. I’m now setting a COVID-19 timer for a spike in cases in Wisconsin.
  • Epidemiologists predict a bleak winter, one that the US is not prepared for.

And today there’s news of a nurse in Snohomish who may have had COVID-19 over Christmas. I still think that Mom may have been an early and undiagnosed case, though I will never know for sure. But news like this certainly makes me wonder.

May 15, 2020 – Today’s trends

  • Hogs are being destroyed because packing plants are closing, so the hogs cannot be processed into food, and farmers can no longer afford to keep them fed.
  • Disruption in the food chain are starting to occur globally because of logistical issues. There are fewer planes flying which has decreased cargo space.
  • Food producers are geared to supply the restaurant and hotel sector (HRI) and are having problems re-tooling for the retail sector (mostly a packaging and distribution chain problem). Food is getting dumped, food banks continue to cry for donations.
  • 7 million gallons of beer were destroyed in the UK today because it expired while bars were closed.
  • Trump wants to cut ties with China – our largest trading partner.
  • Today’s top of page headline in The Guardian: “World looks on in horror as Trump flails over pandemic, despite claims that US leads the way.” Countries who were angry with us, now look at us with pity.

May 21, 2020

I really need to start getting out for a walk mid-day.

Today I receive a delivery of my mail and fresh chard from a garden, and news that “we aren’t reopening the office any time soon, and when we do, it will be voluntary.” I want to come back at least part time, but there are still concerns about mass transit, which has cut occupancy to 12 people per bus and has dropped some routes. The buses are fogged with disinfectant twice a day, but that doesn’t seem adequate against this contagion.

So at home I stay. Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise, now that I’ve grown accustomed to waking up at 7:45 instead of 6:30, and having cats nap on my desk while I work. But I miss going to museums and accessing my PO Box and the bank, and just walking around downtown. What started as a moment of calm is now upended by another panic attack. With things looking so indefinite, I wonder if this is what retirement is going to look like.

May 22, 2020 – A homeless man seeks a bath

  • Global cases 5,213,557 / deaths 338,232
  • US cases 1,601,434 / US deaths 96,007
  • I wonder if we will hit the 100,000 mark by Monday – Memorial Day.

Today I adjust my focus and stop waiting to go back to the office. I stop waiting for any previous “normal” behaviors or habits to return. I start another round of masks to donate, and expect to make my 400th mask this weekend.

At 8:30 PM, there’s a knock on my door. It’s dark but the profile looks like my youngest brother. But when I open the door, it’s a young homeless man, holding a Home Depot bucket, and asks in halting English if I can fill it with hot water so he can take a shower. Neither of us are wearing masks and we’re not socially distanced because I can barely hear him. I take his bucket to my bathroom, where I rinse it out in the tub and fill it with hot water, and return it to him with a bar of soap. After he leaves, I scrub and disinfect my tub and wash my hands twice, and highlight this entry in my log in case I’m sick 2 weeks from now.

Trump demands that churches open today as “essential businesses” and threatens to override governors, raising 10th Amendment questions. I guess he’s still unhappy that churches were closed for Easter. He announced that flags be flown at half mast for the next 3 days to honor those who have died from COVID-19. If I had a flag, I’d be flying it upside down.

May 25, 2020 – George Floyd

George Floyd was killed today, strangled under the knee of one of three arresting officers in Minneapolis. The horrific event was captured on a bystander’s cell phone and dominates the news cycle today.

May 26, 2020 – Memorial Day weekend

I immerse myself in starting Kate’s dress, which had the effect of a mental vacation. It gave me a better sense of what my retirement will look like, when I will have more control over what fills my day, and I won’t sit in front of a computer for 8-10 hours with no place else to go.

  • Washington State cases 20,000/ deaths 1,070
  • US cases 1,666,852/ deaths 98,294
  • Chicken and beef shortages are now feared, due to packing houses shutting down.
  • Trump lays his hand on a wreath that had already been placed for the ceremony at Arlington, and then he went golfing.
  • Dr. Birx appears to defend whatever Trump says and has become useless. We’re now looking for Dr. Fauci, who has not been at the recent COVID-19 task force pressers.
  • UW furloughs 4,000 medical and admin staff for 8 weeks due to budget shortfalls.
  • Washington State Employment Security Office announces they have lost “hundreds of millions” to the Nigerian Canary scheme, which took advantage of holes in our system that were created when the ESD started bypassing steps in an attempt to speed up processing unemployment checks.

My weight is bouncing a bit and I feel feverish but my temperature is normal. I realize today that it’s not work that is stressing me out, it’s the constant barrage of news that comes into my email when I am at my desk. Every single thing seems to be a “Breaking News Alert”.

“Fear is the mind killer.” Face it, or ignore it, and let it pass through.

My timer is now set for the week of June 8 for a second wave as party goers failed to follow COVID-19 precautions over the Memorial Day weekend. Public pools and coastal towns were packed, and newsmakers include Lake of Ozarks in Missouri, the Boardwalk in what I think is San Francisco, and Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The World Health Organization (WHO) forecasts another spike as businesses continue to open too early. Another headline today was that Trump’s “Cut the Red Tape” actions in 2017-18, gutted the Obama-era regulation that would have required hospitals to prepare for airborne contagions and epidemics.

“The Year of Unintended Consequences” is now a hand written notecard on my refrigerator door.

Creative Minds Art Gallery on Orcas Island closes until further notice. Nature’s Kitchen in Yreka CA reopens today but I still haven’t heard from the gallery in Tubac, AZ. Brookfield (in CT) and Peters Valley (in NJ) remain closed tentatively for the rest of 2020.

May 27, 2020 – 100,000+

Today should be proclaimed as a day of mourning, and will be recorded in history as a day of infamy. The US death toll is now 100,411 and makes up one third of the total global death count. Cases are 1,699,073 and the mortality rate is near 6%, which is closer to what I originally estimated for March.

May 28, 2020

Another up and down rollercoaster of a day. I cannot get myself off the computer this week. After a productive weekend, it is disheartening to have such a demoralizing week. I want to do everything. I want to do nothing. I should have gone for a walk today but couldn’t even muster that.

May 29, 2020 – Dumpster Fire Day

The China / Hong Kong / Taiwan mess is going to affect trade in a bad way. I wish Trump would just keep his mouth shut and stop making things worse.

Riots in Minneapolis today may have resulted in the arrest of the officer who killed George Floyd during a botched arrest. Finally.

I’ve been having temperature spikes and weight fluctuations over the last few days, and a total melt down today. Fever dissipates by mid-morning, but my mood is still unpredictable.

May 30, 2020 – Protests in Seattle

Murder hornets make their 1st appearance in Washington State.

Peaceful protests here and in several other cities turn ugly when police fire teargas and flash bangs into the crowd. George Floyd is the subject but the end result has little to do with his death. In Seattle, Proud Boys and other white anarchists torch cars and loot stores. Nordstrom on Fifth Avenue appears to be on fire. Starbucks are targeted in several cities. Bus and ferry service is cancelled to the downtown core at 5:45 PM and a curfew is now in place until Monday. We’ll see if tomorrow’s scheduled protests proceed.

COVID cases rise, so between that and last night’s damage to downtown retail, our reopening will probably be further delayed.

It’s weird being an office manager without an office to manage, and I brace myself for a reduction in hours if our firm starts to lose contracts because of the ongoing trade war with China. (In retrospect, this fear would turn out to be completely unjustified.)

It’s been another totally non-creative week, and even the simple things I try to do today take four times as long as they should. I finish 4 face masks in the time I usually complete 20. I’m still not sleeping well. I wake up angry, and I want to eat and drink everything in the house.

I don’t like this new normal. I want a new one.

My Pandemic Year: April 2020

April 1, 2020 – All I do is sew

The Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard figures for today:

  • Global cases 932,605 / deaths 46,809
  • US cases 213,372 / deaths 4,757
  • NYC deaths 1,139 / King County deaths 150
  • China cases 82,361 which has leveled off, but they forecast a second wave.
  • US forecasts 100,000-200,000 fatalities by either Christmas or Janaury 1.

I read news way too late last night, which led to a meltdown, and finally falling asleep blanketed by cats. But I wake up badly, and with a sore throat that I would treat with ice cream later in the day.

It’s Payne and Marie’s wedding anniversary today. Newspapers cancel April Fool’s stories. Trump is now going after drug cartels for some reason. Some news sources seem to indicate Congressional backtracking on a COVID-19 relief package. Stay at home order is extended to April 30. Trump seems more somber this week.

Today’s news is also focused on PPE and medical equipment, which hospitals warn will soon be in short supply. There are reports that Trump sent nearly 18 tons of medical supplies to China last month. He boasts of a 1 ton shipment of supplies arriving from China today. We sent a 1 ton shipment to Thailand, which confused them because they had just shipped us the same amount. Things are pretty screwed up on the supply front.

I pick up a little steam and then the ground seems to drop away. Anger from yesterday morphs into depression today, as I over-react to everything.

April 2, 2020

I make my 100th mask today. The very next mask results in an injury when I try to sew through my finger for the first time ever…

  • Global cases 1,013,157 / deaths 52,973
  • US cases 243,453 / deaths 5,926
  • NYC deaths 1,562 / King County deaths 175
  • Seattle stay-at-home order extended to May 4

April 4, 2020

  • CDC now recommends that people wear masks in public, and are pushing homemade cloth ones to ease the strain on surgical and N95 masks which are now in desperately short supply.
  • Global cases 1,141,900 / deaths 60,960
  • US cases 278,942 / deaths 7,174
  • NYC deaths 1,857 / King County – 188
  • US case count is now significant. The next closest country is Spain with 124,736 cases and 11,744 deaths. Our cases are not as lethal as Europe, but twice as many as China.

April 5, 2020 – Palm Sunday

  • Global cases 1,274,923 / deaths 69,479
  • US cases 337,620 / deaths 9,643. We now rank 8th in the world for cases.
  • NYC deaths 3,048. They expect to run out of ventilators in the next 48-72 hours.
  • The Feds are not assisting in any capacity in procuring PPE and equipment.
  • Congress continues to backtrack on financial assistance, and stimulus checks may not arrive until August-September.
  • “Fire Fauci” trends on Twitter today, thanks to the InfoWar / MAGA crowd.

My concerns are mostly economic, as I watch for a dramatic increase in homelessness if evictions ramp up in the 3 months. I have nightmares about Trump declaring war, and wonder if he will try to declare martial law in order to postpone the November elections.

April 7, 2020

I’m working with Charlene’s group to fill a request for 350 masks for a naval destroyer. The crew is in quarantine, they have no PPE and they deploy next week. It feels really weird to be working as a civilian volunteer to supply PPE to a military unit that should be getting PPE from the government. Ultimately my masks didn’t arrive in time, so they will be shipped off to the next group in need.

There are more shakeups among White House staff today. Every day is a new drama.

April 9, 2020

My daily routine is very routine. I wake up at about 6 but don’t get up until 7:45. At 8 AM I’m at my desk, forwarding the Seattle and New York Times to staff via email to signal that I’m at work. At 8:05 I feed the cats and make coffee. And so another day begins.

KNKX Radio (whom I have done business with) and my bank call to see if I need anything, which was pretty cool. Fewer people are checking in on me this week, but I think that 30 days in, we’re all settling in to the “new normal.”

I close Mom’s bank account in Yakima, an easier process than I anticipated. I lose a little steam today but recoup later in the evening and start a batch of masks for the Fred Hutch Cancer Care Alliance.

  • Global cases 1,502,618 / deaths 89,915
  • US cases 432,554 / deaths 14,829 (Spain cases are the next highest at 152,446)
  • King County 244 deaths. Cases are still on a significant upwards trajectory.
  • US unemployment rate is now at 15%; with 16 million people out work, it’s worse than 2008.
  • Drivers’ license renewals have now been extended by 90 days. It looks like we’ll be on lockdown for longer than we first thought.
  • The Saudi / Russia oil war is pushing crude prices up to compensate for the dip in global consumption. The US considers applying tariffs in response.
  • Hospital staffing is down because they are starting to sicken from COVID-19. NYC hospitals are now being staffed by volunteer medical personnel.
  • NYC death toll is 4,571 and now exceeds the death toll from 9/11.
  • Staffing shortages are also affecting the IRS, which is delaying tax refund checks and other business. It’s a mess.
  • Trump wants to mine the moon and thinks it’s part of Mars, which he also wants to mine. The news that isn’t awful, is so ludicrous that it makes me laugh.

April 112020 – Holy Saturday

  • Global cases 1,776,157 / deaths 108,804
  • US cases 529,740 / deaths 20,602 (Spain cases 163,027 / deaths 16,606)
  • WaPo reports that 1 in 10 middle-aged people don’t survive their hospital stay.
  • Relief funding is still stalled in Congress.

Trump wanted the country to be open by now, with churches filled for Easter services tomorrow. Churches and sports continue in spite of recommendations by CDC and Dr. Fauci, so I’m now setting my clock for another spike in cases in about 2 weeks. We have now surpassed Italy and Spain in both cases and deaths. The Hopkins dashboard shows a continued upwards trajectory with no sign of leveling off.

Distribution systems of all sorts are not working. PPE is sitting in warehouses and not getting shipped. People are hungry while farmers are dumping milk and produce because they can’t sell it. Some food is getting to food banks but we lack federal and state systems to match supply to need, and to transport it to where it can be used.

COVID-19 is unmasking a plethora of issues. I have a bad stress headache and nausea, and can barely focus. All I can do is make masks and try not to get too angry.

April 12, 2020 – Easter Sunday

Today marks my first major holiday as an orphan. Mom would have turned 90 tomorrow. It’s a dark blessing that she is gone, it would have been heartbreaking to not celebrate that milestone with her.

I make my 200th mask today and return to hatmaking between masks. I anticipate the need for masks will continue as they are now required in a few cities.

Trump declares that he is the 1st president in US history to sign emergency orders in all 50 state. He seems to think that is a good thing, which completely baffles me. Every time I turn on the news today, another 500 people have died. The Guardian cites the global death toll surpassing 110,000. Nursing home deaths surge to 3,321, up from 10 days ago when that count was 450.

April 13, 2020 – Mom’s birthday

I’m not as depressed today as I expected to be. I had planned to write a blog about Mom, or pay taxes, but became absorbed by an epic on-air tantrum from Trump when he rebuked a NYT report detailing his failings in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. Governors on both coasts made pacts to work together on a re-opening plan. Trump claimed total authority over those decisions in spite of telling states that they were responsible for most everything else (including PPE procurement and lockdown guidelines).

Hatch Act, 25th Amendment and “President ManChild” surface in the media.

April 14, 2020 – PPE price gouging, if you can find PPE

Today Trump compares himself to Captain Bligh from Mutiny on the Bounty. Tantrums, denials and blaming continues. A Twitter user wrote in words what I was thinking – he knows he’s losing so he’ll destroy as much as he can on his way out. It’s hard to imagine how much worse he will get before the Senate will do something.

Also in the news yesterday were reports that the Feds are now confiscating PPE shipments from the states, and at least one state is now sending military escorts to meet chartered FedEx planes in order to safeguard shipments arriving from China.

Masks that usually cost less than a dollar are now selling for $7. I’m shopping for PPE for our office and am aghast at both the prices and the lists of things that are out of stock (hand sanitizers topping that list). States are suffering price gouging while the White House does nothing.

April 17, 2020 – Redefining “These United States”

  • Global deaths 154,215
  • US cases 701,610 / deaths 37,055
  • Seven weeks ago, our death count was 0. We now have the highest mortality rate in the world.

Days have become tedious. I wake up. I walk 10 paces from my bed to my desk and open my laptop, where I sit until 5 PM. I close my laptop. Then I make masks. Or I eat compulsively. Or I drink. Some nights I just give up and curl up in bed with the cats and watch a movie.

Vicki and I went grocery shopping on my lunch hour. QFC was a little scary; most shoppers were wearing masks, but very few checkers were, and social distancing was difficult. It was unexpectedly exhausting.

Trump now turns the state re-openings over to the governors after being informed that he isn’t actually the King. The governors on both coasts continue to work to form regional coalitions, and are redefining “these United States.” Trump cedes both authority and responsibility after issuing 18 pages of vague and useless guidelines, and announcing we are “past the curve.” We had 5,000 deaths yesterday and our mortality rate is now over 4%. Nursing home mortality is much higher.

And now, Trump tweets for three Democratic states to be “liberated” and mentions Second Amendment Rights in all caps. Still no one in Congress is interceding.

April 19, 2020

  • US cases 759,696 (1/3 of the global total) / US deaths 40,683

A fairly productive day today. I’m now alternating between making masks for the Cancer Care Alliance and the Masks4Millions project, and am looking at scaling back in May so I can return to some outstanding commissions.

Today there are right-wing protests against the lockdown orders in Maryland, Texas, Ohio, and also Olympia, WA. “Fire Fauci” and the “Liberate” tweets from Trump are the themes, and he has expanded his tweets to elude to a ‘loss of gun rights.’ More protests are scheduled in the coming weeks. So again I set a clock to check for an uptick in COVID-19 cases in 14-18 days from now.

April 20, 2020 – Oil goes negative

At the beginning of 2020, US oil price was $60/barrel. Today the price is $2/barrel. There are no buyers and no place to store it. At 2 PM today, the price drops to -$15. It now costs more to store it than it is worth. Your Move, Mr. President…

April 21, 2020 – Immigration ban

All immigration is banned by Executive Order – which is mostly moot since Canada and Mexico have also closed their borders, and most flights are cancelled.

Seattle is still on track to re-open for business May 4. I will need a wardrobe of masks by then.

I’m listening to “The Doomesday Book” by Connie Willis, written in 1992. It’s about time travel in the year 2050, and transporting a historian back to 1348, the year of the Black Death. And as I listen to the details about a virus that is passed on by respiratory droplets and physical contact, and we’re several weeks into COVID-19 quarantine, and I’m making masks for friends, hospitals and non-profits, I stop to take a reality check, since the audio book is mirroring my new “surreality.”

I’m not hearing accounts of corpses on US streets (as was common during the plague in medieval Europe) but reports from hospitals are bad, and we’re losing bus drivers, doctors, and parents. Elsewhere (Afghanistan and Brazil), the COVID-19 dead are buried in mass graves, and NYC is now burying bodies in city parks because the morgues are full.

Wise governors are refusing to lift stay-at-home orders and are subjected to protesters waving confederate flags and carrying assault rifles. Not-so-wise governors are lifting restrictions for “essential services” defined as barbers, golf courses, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors. What the hell…

I only worked 4 hours today, took the rest as vacation because I just could not function. I keep stress eating my way through boxes of crackers, knowing that I need to get a grip and figure out how to deal with whatever this is. I will remember April as a month of lost time and nearly continual meltdowns.

April 24, 2020 – Disinfectants and anti-malarials

  • US death toll is now 50,024 – double what it was 10 days ago.
  • Trump suggests people ingest disinfectants (Lysol or bleach) to kill COVID-19. Both the makers of Lysol and the medical community immediately issue warnings that doing so could be lethal. Notably, Dr. Brix did not respond during that briefing. (Trump would later walk back his statement, citing that he was being sarcastic.)
  • Trump has also been pushing anti-malarial drugs which has prompted the FDA to issue warnings that hydroxychloroquine has killed people. Rumor has it that the Trump family has invested in this drug and is pushing it to increase their profits.
  • Trump is sending ventilators to Latin America in spite of our continued need for them. “States need to find their own stuff” he says, and hints that Democratic states are not faring as well as GOP states. Everything is political now.
  • Trump announces that he won’t fund USPS unless they quadruple their postal rates on packages, he aims that at Amazon because of some issue he has with Bezos. (USPS delivers ‘last mile’ for many carriers.)
  • Businesses in 16 states reopen, but now people have no money to spend and many are too fearful to leave their homes.

April 26, 2020

  • Washington State cases are 13,000 / deaths 723.

I reconcile myself to this new normal, this surreality, and that I need to plan accordingly, starting tomorrow with a walk through the graveyard and the residential areas I used to traverse on my way to visit Mom at her nursing home. I need to do taxes tomorrow (the IRS extended the deadline for filing to June 15). I need to get back to making hats by May 1. I was making a dress for Kate but her trip to Greece is now cancelled. I still need to finish it, and make a plan for my galleries.

April 28, 2020 – One Million Cases

  • US cases pass the million mark today, 1/3 of the global total, deaths pass 57,000. We’re still Number 1 : (
  • Rural cases are rising now. With restrictions lifted in 16 states, a spike is anticipated within the next 30 days.

I spend 3 hours gathering every brocade in my sewing room, and make plans to start selling couture masks on my website as a fundraiser for food banks and meal programs aimed at medical staff and first responders.

April 29, 2020 – Couture masks

  • Global cases 3,194,663 / deaths 227,681
  • US cases 1,039,909
  • US deaths 60,966. We had expected to hit 60,000 deaths in August.

I take another vacation day and finally finish taxes, which took half the day. I’m waiting for the Friday announcement of a continuance in the lockdown, which I suspect will be extended for another 30 days. A friend sends payment for masks in the form of a 24-count box of dark chocolate Hershey bars with almonds. I do my best to ration them, although rationing them, or vodka, or in fact anything, proves futile.

Walks are helping. Getting back into creative work is also helping. I spend the evening making couture masks and ponder a catchy name. Covid Coutures? Remnants of the Plague? Fancy Masks? I settle on “Fancy Face Masks.”

April 30, 2020

Panic attacks continue to rule my days and insomnia my nights. I’m waiting for the next extension of lockdown, the next gang of AK47s to ‘demonstrate’ inside a state capital building, the next BS to tumble out of Trump’s mouth. Why is No One In The GOP Stopping His Spewing I Wonder.

My brain is a maelstrom today. I toss around the idea of early retirement. I think about doctor visits that are overdue but which I don’t want to schedule. An appointment with my financial advisor. The memorial for Mom in Yakima. Travel anywhere. The fact that my galleries are now closed for the remainder of this year, which effectively shuts down my hat business. I rethink and double-think and end up in mental paralysis.

Make it stop…

My Pandemic Year: March 2020

March 10, 2020 – Thus starts my Decameron

Covid has arrived in Seattle. The epicenter is a nursing home in Kirkland but cases are now confirmed within a few blocks of our office downtown. We have spent the last 2 weeks preparing for staff to work from home, and I have spent the same amount of time stocking up on food and supplies. I spent the weekend testing a company issued laptop and VPN to make sure I could actually work from home. I still cannot answer the phone remotely but I’ll try to remedy that this week.

Today feels a little like the zombie apocalypse. It’s my last day downtown before I move my office home and become a telecommuter. Stress today includes having to close Mom’s bank account before I was ready, so now final disbursements are coming out of my account instead of hers. Taxes will be interesting in 2021.

And once again, hat production grinds to a halt. I’m having serious thoughts of bagging this business altogether.

March 11, 2020 – The pandemic is official

  • At 9:35 AM, the World Health Organization (WHO) declares coronavirus as an official pandemic.
  • At 11 AM, Governor Inslee bans public gatherings of more than 250 people.
  • Airports remain open but cruises are being cancelled.
  • Schools are starting to close (optionally rather than mandated).
  • Restaurants, grocery stores and theaters are still open.
  • City buses are being disinfected (fogged) twice a day.
  • My personal lockdown begins.

March 13, 2020

  • Schools across the state are ordered to close as of March 17.
  • Libraries and most community centers close.
  • Canlis – one of Seattle’s 5 star restaurants – closes but sets up a burger and bagel drive through in its parking lot in a bid to keep their staff employed.
  • Trump declares a national emergency for COVID19 which he described as a hoax two weeks ago.
  • Stock market dropped 2500 points Thursday but rebounded 2000 points today. Trump takes credit for the rebound but not for the drop.
  • Governors and mayors take over the decision-making process as the White House appears to forfeit that responsibility.
  • I hope Trump has lost his re-election bid as cases and death toll rise.

Four days into working from home (WFH), I take half the day off today to manage my stress level. I move my office to my sewing room, where I can sit at a table and look out a window. It might be less stressful than standing in my kitchen, which is my least favorite room. I resolve to take more breaks next week.

I threw caution to the wind last night, and went out to dinner with Marie. Indian food at the Masala on Northgate Way. It was a good break for both of us. (In retrospect, it will also be my last visit to a dine-in restaurant for the foreseeable future.)

March 14, 2020

  • As of last night there were 388 cases and 35 deaths in King County, WA. Cases are now expected to double every 5-7 days.
  • National numbers are 1,629 cases and 41 deaths across 46 states and D.C.
  • Death rate world-wide is 3.75% as of today.
  • There is now a concern about the lack of testing, and confirmed cases overwhelming our hospital system.
  • Trump gets tested today, after days of refusing. His test would come back negative, which I’m sure is a relief to everyone he shook hands with this week.
  • I resume hatmaking.

March 15, 2020

Washington State now has 769 confirmed cases, double from what we had 4 days ago, which exceeds the scientific predictions that numbers would double every 5-7 days. Gun sales soar. COVID-19 takes out our elders, guns are the 2nd largest cause of death among our children. It looks like millennials will rule after this is all over.

March 16, 2020

We are now following the trajectory for Italy – but in the absence of adequate testing, we don’t have much info to go on. Governors are now taking the lead, shutting down all but essential businesses as of today. They are pissed off at the lack of direction from the Federal level.

  • Grocers, pharmacies and medical providers remain open.
  • Restaurants are restricted to drive-through with pick-up at a socially distanced 6 feet.
  • Theaters, coffee shops, barbers, fitness centers are closed.

March 17, 2020

St. Patrick’s Day in the Time of Isolation. I do nothing to mark this holiday. I’m losing interest in hatmaking again. I doubt there will be customers this year anyway.

March 18, 2020

Today starts the second week of The Great Isolation. Things are better. I have established a new routine, starting work at 7:30 and immersing myself in projects that keep me off the news.

  • Europe COVID-19 cases are now in double digits.
  • US cases are 7,786 which is about a thousand more than yesterday. An hour later, cases went up to 9,345.
  • US deaths were 145 but went up by 5 an hour later. Washington State still leads at 68 deaths, twice as many as yesterday.
  • Economy is tanking at a rapid click. Mnuchin is now voicing the possibility of 20% unemployment by fall.
  • My boss checks in on me and offers to bring me whatever I need, which is super nice and unexpected. I’m stocked up for about 30 days so the only things I may run out of are fresh vegetables and vodka.

March 24, 2020 – Face masks begin

I posted to Facebook yesterday that I was thinking about making face masks, if only I knew where to send them. Up pops a recent customer within minutes… Charlene, who had recently received her purple phoenix hat, is the director of a non-profit in Stanwood-Camano. She asked for 450 masks for a hospital and 2 nursing homes in the Anacortes area. I expect to be working on those for the next month or two.

My galleries are now closed, hat sales are now zero.

March 26, 2020

Trump is still blaming China, media, and everyone else. He argues with governors and tells them they don’t need all the things they’re asking for. He wants all the churches to be filled on Easter.

Today we have more confirmed cases than any other country, including China. Death rates are starting to climb. Governors have been locking down their states all week. PPE supplies for hospitals are trickling in and not coming close to meeting needs. That SNL sketch with Hillary and her cue cards has become prophetic: “He will kill us all.”

It looks like I won’t be going back to the office before April 8 at the earliest. Working from home is overrated and I don’t know how families are managing it. My routine now includes mask making every night, it’s a mindless task that keeps me from deep diving into the news cycle on the web.

As of today I’ve made nearly 200 masks for friends, coworkers, the Navajo Nation, NW Hospital, Skagit Valley farm workers, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and my local UPS store, who donated shipping boxes when I refused to accept payment. I don’t profit off of pandemics…

My Pandemic Year: February 2020

February 1, 2020 – First journal entry

Divorcing myself from the emotional impact of Mom’s demise is clearly not working. It was a very hard day at work yesterday after staying home in bed for 2 days with the cold I’ve had since January 6. So I went full-bore Victorian today, filling my patio planters with black feathers and draping black lace over my patio chairs — my equivalent of a black wreath or black drapes on my front door.

I’m angry that every time I gain momentum with my hat business, s*** happens. After a ridiculously busy fall, receipts total more than the previous year but I didn’t recoup advertising costs. Sales from my website more than doubled, but gallery sales are very low. I don’t think I will ever make more than supplementary income from my craft.

So I do simple tasks today. Laundry, and shredding mounds of paper that Mom’s medical providers produced, and organizing things that I usually attend to over the holiday break. And I wait for Trump to disband Congress and declare himself King at the State of the Union address on Tuesday, after the GOP failed to even pretend to hold an impeachment trial. I did not expect him to be removed from office, but the absence of any form of censure is startling. They have just given him license to do whatever he wants.

Palindrome Day – 02/02/2020

It feels weird not having to be anywhere today. So, since I didn’t get to celebrate my birthday this year with a movie, today is that day. 1917 at the Oak Tree Plaza. (In retrospect, this would be my first and last movie for the year…)

February 5, 2020 – Mom’s Life Celebration at Foss Nursing Home

Congratulations Mom, you finally got your roommate to leave her room. Everyone on your floor attended your Life Celebration today. I cried the entire time and couldn’t talk to any of the people who knew you. The chaplain did a really nice job though, incorporating almost everything that I gave him from your journals. You made people laugh and feel happy. You lived as full a life as you were able to.

Afterwards, I got a massage at Umalina Spa, and dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. I’m still exhausted. We scatter your ashes tomorrow in Kelso.

February 6, 2020 – Ashes to Ashes

On this grey and rainy day, Kevin and Heather, and Payne and I set out for Kelso, to scatter ashes at a spot where the Cowlitz River meeds the Columbia, which in turn runs out to the sea. It’s not Ocean Park but its the closest we could come in respecting your final wishes. Kevin thought to bring mud boots, so after Payne dropped Clara’s ashes into the water (Mom’s dog), Kevin waded out so he could drop Mom’s ashes into the current. Most of Clara’s ash sunk but some stayed on the surface. Mom’s ashes floated back towards us and touched Clara’s ash, before drifting back out again…

February 10, 2020

It’s Monday. I literally spent the entire weekend rearranging knick-knacks and sorting photos for this family history blog. I cannot tell if this continuing soul-crushing fatigue is grief, the lingering head cold, or SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Whatever the cause, I hope it resolves soon. It’s pretty damn irritating to be so unproductive.

February 22, 2020 – First notes about coronavirus

I finally picked up a hat 2 days ago and am back in full production mode today. I think I’m mostly recovered from this cold that I have had for nearly 2 months. I’m still super fatigued and my temperature is still pretty low (95-96) but my coughing has finally stopped and I’m back to sleeping 6-8 hours a night instead of 10-12.

  • Coronavirus is now at 77,000+ cases worldwide and is on its way to being declared a pandemic…

Celebrando la Familia

Today and tomorrow we celebrate The Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos, All Souls and All Saints Day. It’s a time to celebrate and honor those family members (both blood and chosen) who have left this world for the next.

I have celebrated this day in a very private way for over a decade, reminiscing on the departed, remember our good times and their accomplishments and sharing a meal and a glass with them after sunset, feeding their portion to a fire as a final gesture of remembrance.

I was introduced to the custom by a friend whose husband had recently passed. She invited me to her home, and to a table that was set for nearly a dozen people. She and I ate mostly in silence, and then we took portions from each plate out to the fire she had set in her backyard circle. A few years later, after losing 10 people from my social circle in 10 months (including my father and my husband), I started counseling my friends to memorialize birthdays rather than death days, as a mode of recovery from our tremendous and collective loss. But when you reach a certain age, even that starts to take on the airs of a perpetual wake.

The Day of the Dead is in a way, an emotional efficiency. It also takes those remembrances to a more communal and joyous level. I continued my private rituals, but also started attending community celebrations. These are photos from 2017 at the Seattle Center.

This year, the COVID-19 precautions have taken most celebrations virtual, and in Mexico, the graveyards are closed to families today and tomorrow. So earlier this week, I scoured my local Mexican grocers for pan du muertos, sugar skulls, chiseled paper banners, copal and candies, and built my own offrenda, with special focus on my mother who died earlier this year, and her parents who passed on in the previous century.

Inspired by an invite to a ZOOM Holiday Happy Hour this past Friday, I carried out the theme by dressing as my version of a Catrina. I asked a neighbor if she had time to take a couple of photos of me on my patio, and she said, “Yes, or we could go across the street to the graveyard…” She arrived with long stem marigolds and her camera, and the sun came out, and it became a perfect day.

I took the opportunity to decorate a grave. When you scatter ashes, there is no grave to decorate on Dia de los Muertos, so I decided to decorate someone else’s. At first, it was going to be a random grave, but ‘one has to be careful about whose spirits you call’ so I settled on celebrating one of Seattle’s famous figures instead.

It was a reflective experience, which I now plan to repeat in coming years. To learn how you can celebrate the day, go to https://dayofthedead.holiday/. If you are curious about the bench I sat on, it’s called a mourning chair, which you can read more about here.

Gunnison – 1918

March 11, 2020 was a tumultuous day here in Seattle, WA, the nation’s epicenter for COVID19. At 9:30 AM Pacific time, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus to be a global pandemic. At 11 AM, Governor Inslee took steps towards viral containment in three counties in Washington State by banning groups of more than 250 people from assembling; encouraging schools to develop contingency plans; reminding people to wash their hands and practice social distancing. Those of us over the age of 60 or with underlying medical conditions are following recommendations to hunker down at home.

Wish us luck…

History is full of stories about cities that sequestered themselves during times of plague. In recent history, one of those cities was Gunnison, Colorado, which “declared a quarantine against all the world” during the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918.

My grandmother’s family lived in Gunnison – my grandmother recounts having smallpox there in 1917. The following year, the family moved to nearby Jack’s Cabin, (which her notes record as Jack’O Cabin Valley). I don’t know if the intention was to protect the family by moving to an isolated area in the county, or if her father was simply following an offer of work on Jim Spann’s farm. My grandmother was 10 years old and may not have even been aware of the pandemic, in spite of the Spann family being quarantined after they visited Denver for Thanksgiving in November 1918. According to the Gunnison County Times, Mrs. Laurel Spann [possibly Bill’s wife] later succumbed, and is thought to be the first flu-related death in Gunnison County that year.

My grandmother, Mildred Carpenter, and Bill Spann at his farm in Jack Cabin Valley, circa 1918-20
(Photo from my family archives)

Gunnison sat at a highway junction and train stop between Denver and other major Colorado cities, which put them at heightened risk [not unlike Seattle, WA being a major port for both air and sea travel]. At a time when many nearby towns suffered consequences through their inaction, Gunnison’s early containment measures via “protective sequestration” resulted in zero deaths during the first wave of the pandemic. The Guardian News, US edition, published an excellent story which you can read here.

Photo credit: The Guardian News, US edition

This article from the Gunnison Country Times recounts that the pandemic hit the US in January 1918, and by October there were 78 deaths in Denver, and 9,000 reported cases throughout Colorado. On October 18th, Gunnison city officials closed schools and churches, and banned both public and private gatherings. On November 1st, they quarantined the entire town, erecting barricades on roads, sequestering visitors, and arresting violators for the next four months. Nearby towns took similar actions but not soon enough. The town of Silverton – thinking it had no cases – took no action at all, and between October – December 1918, suffered 125 deaths and 833 reported cases.

A train and passengers, just east of Gunnison, CO. Photo credit: Gunnison Country Times

As a result of Gunnison’s isolation, deaths and illnesses were minimal and occurred only after a second wave of flu hit, after city officials lifted the quarantine in mid -February 1919. That action resulted in 58 reported cases and only a handful of deaths. Statewide, nearly 8,000 people died out of 49,000 reported cases.

Gunnison served as partial inspiration for the novel The Last Town on Earth” by Thomas Mullen, which coincidentally, is set in my home state of Washington.

My grandmother and her family survived the pandemic, and remained at Jacks Cabin until about 1924, when they moved back to Gunnison so she and her sister could attend high school.

Mildred and Nella Carpenter, from my family archives

Wilma Hughes: A Graduation Flood

Excerpted from Wilma’s personal journal which she wrote in September 2002 and May 2019, and supplemented with materials from her high school scrapbooks. My additions are in [brackets].

I graduated from R.A. Long High School in June 1948 [with an average grade of “C”]. That year, Longview was hit with a terrible flood. The place where we were to have our Senior Sneak Day was covered with about three feet of water. The day we were to have our Senior Assembly, school was closed and all able-bodied students were put to work filling sandbags on the dike. The river was well above flood stage. We were lucky to have commencement.

[The remainder of this information is gleaned from Wilma’s high school scrap books.]

From her graduation events program, she writes that her baccalaureate on May 30 covered “a very moving topic. It makes one stop and think that there is a great deal ahead of us to conquer”. It is interesting to note that for the practice on May 28, seating was segregated, with boys taking seats in the Sophomore section, and girls in the Senior section.

She received instructions for commencement and practice, of which there were two sessions on June 1 and 2. “When you receive your diplomas, say “Thank You”. Seniors are to leave the school grounds as soon as commencement practice is over.

Of the actual commencement ceremony, she writes: “a very beautiful pageant, telling of the progress that R.A. Long [School] has made.” The pageant was a history of the Longview schools to commemorate the silver anniversary of the city school system, and was inspired by the dedication speech delivered by R.A. Long when the school opened in 1929 and replaced the traditional commencement program.

There were 208 students in her graduating class. Her class colors were red and black, graduation robes were wine and white. Wilma kept her tassel, foregoing the 25 cent refund for its return.

Her prom was held on April 17 in the cafeteria. Music was provided by the Knights of Rhythm, (which she notes as her favorite band) and punch and cookies were served.

The theme of the Senior Girls Breakfast was “We Face Tomorrow”. It was hosted by the Longview Business and Professional Women’s Club at the Hotel Monticello on May 2 at 8:30 AM. The young ladies were told that “it was a challenge to all to keep their perspective as they face the tomorrow. All should develop a philosophy by which they can live and work, and should have a better understanding of the world problems. The facts one learns in school are not so essential as the experiences of living and working together, of becoming tolerant and doing away with prejudices.”

The All-Church Senior Banquet was held on May 26 at 6:30 PM at First Christian Church. According to tradition, mothers of the graduating students in the churches assist in the dining room and kitchen for this event. [I did not see anyone from Wilma’s family listed.]

Mildred Carpenter: School and Marriage

Excerpted from Mildred’s letters and interviews I had with her between 1977-1990. My additions to her letters are in brackets and I have edited her letters to clarify family names and to put events into chronological order. Photos are from my personal archives.

Mildred at left, her sister Nella at right

My folks moved to Gunnison so Nella and I could go to high school. We rode horses to school, though the one I rode sometimes aimed for low hanging branches and knocked me out of the saddle.

I took piano lessons; it was so good to work out my problems on the piano. I spent hours there, progressed fast and soon joined three others that played for some dancers. I took voice lessons, belonged to the drama club and the Glee Club. Our Glee Club entered state contests in Montana and took second place each time. I used to do some painting, took two years of instruction under a college teacher. She wanted me to go into designing clothing but I wasn’t interested. Most of the paintings were scenery. [Much later in her life, Mildred would apply her artistry to becoming a ceramist, and ran a shop in the back of her home where she sold greenware, supplies, and finished pieces.]

When I first entered high school, the principal had us write down what we would like to do when we graduated. I said “be a teacher.” Three weeks later I was in charge of the study hall for one period. It was a trying job as all my classmates were in it. Each day six or eight were sent to the principal’s office for misconduct.

A few weeks later I was asked to work in the office two hours a day. I kept that job the full four years I was in school. It was great! I knew what was going on in school and out of school as well. There were drinking problems, thievery and family problems to deal with. I learned to type so I sent letters for the principal. [Mildred insisted that I learn to type when I was in high school as well, which I fought against at the time but am now very grateful for.] I also did extra work after school some days, addressing envelopes for pay. It wasn’t much but gave me some extra spending money.

I excelled in athletics and when school was out, I helped the coach teach tennis to college students at summer school. [Mildred must have been very engaged in high school sports – she had several photos of the football team as well as shots of both the basketball team and the individual players in her scrapbook. ]

My sister and I were among the 21 students on the class roll for the Gunnison County High School commencement exercises on June 11, 1928. Our class motto was “No Progress Without Labor”; our class colors were Emerald and Silver, and our class flower was White Rose. My sister was listed as Elizabeth McKee Carpenter. We didn’t make the honor roll or other class distinctions, but I did serve as Class Treasurer. [Her diploma was dated June 13, 1928, and signed by W.L. Curtis (President), Mary A. Lawrence (Secretary), Richard Aspinall (Superintendent) and V.M. Rogers (Principal).]

Earl Hughes and I were married [the day before graduation] on Sunday, June 10, 1928 at 2 PM . The Roman Catholic priest was the only minister in town that weekend, so we had a Justice of the Peace [Robert J. Potter] perform the ceremony.

My mother did nothing for my wedding. No reception – nothing. All she did was cry. I knew nothing about weddings. Margie said she should have been told so she could bake a cake. Mamma didn’t tell her until that morning. She kept hoping something would happen and I wouldn’t get married. [Mildred would later relate this to her daughter Wilma – that her wedding was very simple with no flowers; that her parents did nothing to help; and no one told Earl that he was supposed to buy the bridal bouquet.]

Earl and I were happy. There were some arguments but the anger was gone in a few minutes. I couldn’t have had a better husband. We were very much in love.

[Her daughter Wilma, also recounts that not much was said about her parent’s courtship. Her mother did tell her that the night before the wedding, she slept with one of the Voutaz boys to make Earl jealous. This story gained some validity when I removed a photo of my grandparents from its frame to see if there was a date on the back, and out popped a photo of my grandmother and a man “not my grandfather”. That photo appears to be Joe Voutaz, captain of the Gunnison High School basketball team, shown in the sports section above. Perhaps it was a final fling…]

Wilma Hughes: The War Ends, and Love Begins

Excerpted from Wilma’s personal journal which she wrote in September 2002 and May 2019. I have reordered her entries so they are chronological, and have edited for flow and clarity. My additions are in [brackets].

President Franklin Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945 [a day before my mother’s birthday]. I was in music class when the announcement came on over the intercom, and a few students felt that school should close for the rest of the day. When they found out it wouldn’t, they opened the windows and ran away.

We were still at war, still buying War Bonds and still running to the train station to wave at the troops. And I was asked to be a temporary leader of a Girl Scout Brownie troop. We mostly played games, did crafts and took nature hikes around the neighborhood. I graduated from junior high school in June 1945.

The war finally ended in September. The city went wild. Cars were driving fast and honking their horns, and everyone was shouting. It was a great day.

I enrolled in R.A. Long High School in that month. It was a new start, away from the kids who had taunted me in junior high school. [Interestingly, I did the same thing, for the same reason, by enrolling in A.C. Davis, the “other” high school at the other end of town from where we lived in Yakima.]

I wanted to become a nurse and two things that were required were Latin and chemistry. Our Latin teacher insisted that we call him professor. He took us through Latin 1 in the first semester but only one student passed. He had been to seminary school and had taken Latin in order to become a priest. I also failed chemistry in the first two weeks, so my teacher made arrangements for me to get into a retail selling class. I made “A” grades for the first time in my life.

I made friends with four other girls, who like me, were misfits – Marjorie Hanson, Doris Tyler, Audrey Gulickson, and Iris McDonald. Margie was very tiny and slightly hunchbacked. Dores was very shy. Audrey giggled all the time. Iris was fat like me, and had been adopted by a judge. (As of 2002, Doris had passed away; Audrey was an art dealer with a gallery in Longview, and Iris became a real estate agent in Tillamook, OR. Marge dropped out of sight. During high school we were very close, but after graduation, we lost touch except for Iris, we still write.) [As of January 15, 2020, Iris was still alive and had recently moved to a nursing home. She was very saddened to hear of mom’s passing, and relayed fond memories of Wilma during my phone call with her that day.]

It was in high school that I had my introduction to Negroes. There were none living in Kelso but there was a large community of them living in Longview. I was so surprised to see that the palms of their hands and the bottoms of their feet were almost white. There were three Negroes on our football team and they were great players. One in particular, was tall, well-built, handsome and the star of the team. A white girl kept hitting on him for a date, but he kept telling her ‘no’. Finally, he took her by the shoulders and said: “Girl, I wouldn’t lower myself to go out with you.” She stopped bothering him after that.

I went to all the home football games. My cousin Clair played on the Kelso team and we always had a bet on who would win the Thanksgiving Day game. When he turned 16, I suddenly had a strong attraction to him. I would go to his house on Saturdays and we’d put on shoe skates and skate through his house while his dad and step-mom were gone, and take drives in his folk’s car. I was very much in love with him and hated the fact that we were cousins. He gave my my first kiss one night. I made a comment to my parents that I wished he weren’t my cousin because he made me feel so special.

A few weeks later a boy named Bruce Talbott (from a very prominent family in Longview) asked me to go to the movies. I’m sure Mom set this up as she knew the family from church. I said ‘yes’, but all through the movie he stared at me and I was very uncomfortable, which I later confided in Clair. After that, the three of us went out together. A few weeks later, Clair called me and told me to keep clear of Bruce. Seems Bruce had paid Clair a visit and had come on to him. Boy, Mom could sure pick the guys…

I spent the summer of 1947 at Grandmother Purdy’s house at Ocean Park. What a wonderful summer it was, filled with fun and romance. It was there that I met Neil De Figh.

I met Neil at the post office when I picked up Gram’s mail. He invited me to his father’s soda fountain shop for a cherry coke. We saw each other every day. He would walk me back to Gram’s house about a mile away. He was an amateur photographer and had his own dark room behind the soda fountain. I spent time with him there while he developed his films. We would cuddle and kiss but he never tried to go any further. We would go to the dunes on the beach to watch the sunset. He was such a gentleman.

One weekend my Mom drove down from Longview to bring me my bike and to visit my Gram. While I was in town, she found and read my diary, and made fun of my ‘summer romance’. By the end of the summer, Neil told me that his dad had told him we could no longer see each other. I wondered if Mom had something to do with that. I burned the diary and never kept another one. [She would eventually return to journalling in the 1970’s to document her travel with a Girl Scout trip to Washington DC, and only sporadically after that].

Neil and I wrote to each other during our senior year in high school. After graduation he moved to Fargo, ND and I didn’t heard from him again until a couple of weeks before I got married. He had been in and out of an engagement and wanted to renew our friendship, and that he still had deep feelings for me. Writing a farewell letter to him was very hard. I still think of him often [when she wrote this journal in 2002], wondering if he is still alive and if he continued photography as a profession. [I also tried to find him but failed. She requested that her ashes be scattered at the place “where I met my true love – not your father…]

He and Clair were my first deep loves. Although they were different in stature – Clair was tall with blue eyes, Neil was short with dark hair and deep-set brown eyes – their personalities were very much alike. Both gentlemanly, caring and polite, their kisses both gentle and loving.

Back in 1945-46 I joined the Mariners – a senior scout troop whose activities were related to the water. We learned navigation and sailing, and had many mutual activities with Sea Scouts (the Boy Scout equivalent to the Mariners). They had a large open sailboat called the Amberjack. A couple of times a month we’d all go sailing, with the boys teaching the girls. I always had fun because I was ‘just one of the boys’. I didn’t spend time fussing with my hair or brushing dirt from my clothes. I would wrestle with them and did my share of manning the rudder or the running lines [the ropes that control the sails].

Each year we would have a Halloween dance and a Christmas formal dance. The formal dance was held for both Sea Scouts and Mariners from Longview, Kelso, Vancouver and Portland, and would alternate between Longview and Portland. We’d charter a bus to go to the Portland dance.

I believe it was 1950 that the Sea Scout unit got a new assistant leader. I first saw him at a formal dance we had. He was wearing a fancy naval-style uniform and was escorting a very nice looking lady. I asked one of the Sea Scouts who they were and I was told it was Cal Fifield and the lady was his mother.

Calvin Lennan Fifield

The next girl-boy cruise was on the Sea Scout motor launch. Of course when we hit the beach the boys wanted to wrestle, and this jerk, Cal, made them stop. Whenever I sat or stood, he was there. I’d move and he would follow.

Several weeks later we had a costume dance. I provided the record player and the records. At some point Cal had trouble getting the record to change, so I went over to assist him. When I came back and sat down, this woman sat next to me and said: “that is my son, and he’ll never get married.”

That was my first encounter with who would eventually become my mother-in-law.

Calvin Lennan Fifield and his mother Dorothy

Wilma Hughes: The House that Bribes Built

Excerpted from Wilma’s personal journal which she wrote in September 2002 and May 2019. I have reordered her entries so they are chronological, and have edited for flow and clarity. My additions are in [brackets].

I entered Carl Tuckett Junior High School in 1943 and this school held several experiences for me. I had trouble getting to all of my classes because they were so spread out, with history being held on the high school campus, and library class held in the basement of the junior high campus. One day, a girl brought her pet white rat to school. He rode on her shoulder and I was so fascinated with him that I went to all of her classes instead of mine (we were taking the same classes, just at different times). I had a problem explaining the next day why I was marked as absent, when I knew I had been in class.

There were three new girls in my home room that year, a pair of twins named Eva and Elva Van Newheusen, and Pat Pappadis, whose dad owned and managed the only restaurant in Kelso. Everyone brought lunch to school and we could eat in our home room. Most of us brought a sandwich, an orange or apple and a cookie. Pat’s lunches were leftovers from the restaurant – steak or roasted meat sandwiches and very fancy desserts. She was a spoiled snob who was always bragging about how rich her family was telling others their lunches were ‘hog slop’. She was especially harsh to Eva, Elva and I because of our clothes. One day we had simply had enough. We got up and stood around her desk at lunchtime and glared at her. When she got up, we followed her for the rest of the lunch hour and she never had a chance to eat her fancy food. For the rest of the year, I don’t think Pat got the chance to eat her lunch, and the next year she was gone. [Mom said that she saw Pat years later in the Naval Reserves, and that when she tried to instruct Pat on something, Pat recognized her and quit the reserves. Mom never saw or heard about her again].

Reflecting back on my life up to this point, I don’t remember ever getting hugs from my parents. I was a chubby child and always had to eat everything that was put on my plate. There was a bakery on the route I took home from school, and a friend and I would always stop for a couple of cream-filled sweet rolls to eat on the way home. She never gained weight (not fair!) but I did. Mom was still making my clothes, and before she was finished, they were too tight. She would yell at me and call me names, yet she never cut back on the meals she served me. When she found out about the bakery, she threatened to kick me out of the house. I was 14 years old. [Mom would remain heavy for the rest of her life, and remembers these years as being an unloved and unwanted outcast. And yet, not unloved by everyone – below are a couple of photos from 1944, with Berle Zuinlist, which I believe is the boy she referenced earlier in her journal – see “Boys, Scouts and a World at War.]

In the summer of 1944 we took a family vacation. Dad had saved all of his gas ration coupons and we drove to Depot Bay, OR. Some friends, including three women whose husbands were working overseas, joined us in another car. I got car sick and was miserable. But Depot Bay was beautiful, the ocean was so blue and the town so clean.

On the 2nd or 3rd day, the women friends met a crab fisherman and talked him into taking us out with him when he hauled in his catch. They left at about 3 AM and I stayed at the motel by myself. They came back at dusk; Dad had gotten terribly seasick and Mom teased him about being a ‘pansy’, and teased him for several years about ‘feeding the fishes’. The one good outcome was that Dad had a little more compassion for me when I got car sick.

On our way back to Kelso we stopped at Agate Beach, OR and gathered agates along the beach. Dad bought agate rings for Mom and me as well as moss agate lavalieres for us. I remember a house near the shop had a retaining wall of concrete with polished agates imbedded in it. Prettiest thing I’d ever seen.

In the fall, I was in the 8th grade. That year Mom had a day or two off from work so I was able to become a ‘plane spotter’ – spotting and recording the airplanes that flew over Kelso. We worked from the roof of the courthouse and observed mock dog-fights between U.S. P-38 fighter planes. That was always exciting.

The war was still going on and things were hard to get. Dad bought land on Cascade Way in Longview to build a house on. (Dad’s parents lived in Longview, and Cascade Way was in an elite part of town, which pleased Mom. She always wanted to be ‘high society’). We worked on weekends to clear the land [which was heavily wooded] and to look over the plans for the house. Building supplies were scarce, but many things were found because Dad being in the grocery business, would ‘bribe’ the contractors (which I suspect was illegal). Ten pounds of sugar helped locate plumbing supplies. Five pounds of butter assured us of getting oak flooring for the living room and hallways. We always said the house was built with coffee and sugar.

We moved into that house in 1945. A president would die and the war would end later that year, as new friendships – and new loves – would begin…

Wilma Hughes: A World at War

Excerpted from Wilma’s personal journal which she wrote in September 2002 and May 2019. I have reordered her entries so they are chronological, and have edited for flow and clarity. My additions are in [brackets].

December 7, 1941

This Sunday morning was warm for December. Carol Shellenbarger and I were playing house on her back porch. Dick and Bill McAuliff and several other boys were playing a baseball game called 7-Up. Bill, the older of the two boys, went into the house and came out shouting that Pearl Harbor was being bombed. I knew where Pearl Harbor was and so did Carol. She got upset and I said “It’s just a game they are playing”. She decided to go inside, and I went home.

I asked my parents about it, and they had not had the radio on. Shortly after that, newspaper boys flooded the city with the newspapers and shouted “Extra, Extra, Pearl Harbor Bombed, War Declared”. (Hawaii was still a territory at the time and would not become a state for several more years.)

We were at war. President Roosevelt immediately initiated the draft. Men 18 years and older had to register. Those who had jobs involving the war effort, or who had families or health issues were exempt. My Dad was classified as “4-E” and did not go into the military. He was a father, managed a business (a grocery store) and was 37 years old. Dad was appointed as an air raid warden. He had to inspect homes at night to make sure all windows were covered with black-out paper, porch lights were turned off and car headlights were covered, with just a slit in the covering so drivers could see at night. I learned that a plane could see a porch light from 2-3 miles away.

We lived about 2 hours away from Fort Lewis, WA. There were a couple of plants in the area that produced materials for the war, including aluminum.

For me, the War Years were the most exciting time. Sure, sacrifices had to be made on the home front, but people pulled together. My family would invite a couple of soldiers from the area to have dinner with us once a month. We also made arrangements through the USO to host a couple of servicemen at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Dad would give them each a carton of cigarettes and Mom would send a box of candy, cookies and fruitcake with them when they went back to their units. I never did find out where the men were stationed.

In school we talked a lot about the war. We learned and sang patriotic songs and bought stamps for 25 cents each, which we put into a book. When the book was full ($18.75), we turned it in for a War Bond which would pay out $25 after 10 years. (I later used my War Bonds to buy a Hollywood style bedroom set, which made my Mother unhappy.)

There were all sort of War Bond drives. One Saturday the pump & ladder fire trucks from Kelso and Longview came to an open field in West Kelso. A pair of 20-year-old twin girls dressed in white shorts would take one step up their assigned ladder for each war bond sold. It was a competition between the two cities but I don’t remember which city won. There were also Army jeeps there, and for every child who bought four war stamps, they got a ride in a jeep. I managed to get two rides.

The schools worked on writing letters to members of the military. We learned to knit squares which the Red Cross ladies sewed together as afghans to be sent overseas. Kelso was also a debarkation center for the military. Men were trucked in and boarded the train. The Girl Scout troop would bake cookies and take down to the departing soldiers. When school let out at 3 PM, we would run like mad to get to the train station by 3:45 to wave to the soldiers and sailors as they headed out for deployments. The train would have military trucks and tanks on it and always headed south.

By this time, a large number of men in the city had either enlisted or had been drafted. Nearly every house had a Blue Star flag in the window, showing a son or husband was serving in the military. Some flags had more than one star. In a few months some Blue Stars changed to Gold, showing the loss of a son or husband.

I was teased a lot in school because I wore home-made and hand-me-down clothes. I beat a girl up in math class because she kept taking my eraser and throwing it across the room, and spent an hour in the principal’s office. In the Spring of 1942, I was almost expelled from grade school. A girl called me “a dirty yellow Jap” so I cornered her in a bathroom stall and beat the crap out of her. I spent the rest of the day in the principal’s office and was lectured on tolerance and anger control.

The government ordered all Japanese gathered up and sent to confinement camps. One day, soldiers came into the classrooms and pulled the Japanese children out. This was so sad, as several of my friends were Japanese and the poor kids didn’t know what was happening.

[Wilma graduated from Catlin School in 1942, complete with a little Memory Book constructed of blue construction paper, mimicking a high school commencement program, complete with Class Colors (white and blue); Class Motto (“If you never begin you will never finish”) and three class officers (President, Secretary and Treasurer) It listed a graduating class of about 30 students. Wilma held a B average in grade school.]

By 1943 there were more shortages of many things, and rationing of sugar, coffee, and meat. We used a lot of honey in baking and substituted chicken and fish for meat. Chocolate was very scarce and butter was in short supply. Coffee grounds were used over and over – the wet grounds were spread on cookie sheets and dried, and eventually mixed with chicory.

Somehow, my mom obtained a Nucoa (margarine) route. At that time, margarine could not be sold in stores, and it could not be colored. It came in one-pound packages with a color and flavor packet which had to be mixed in to the Nucoa. A supply was delivered to our house on Friday afternoons by Railway Express, and Mom would deliver the orders on Saturday mornings before going to work. She took orders in advance and was paid on delivery (like Avon is now).

Shoes were limited to 2 pair a year, and silk and rayon stockings were hard to get. Women would line up for blocks to buy stockings. Some women used leg makeup and drew a seam line down the back of their leg with an eyebrow pencil. By late summer, rubber products were very scarce. Women’s underpants had drawstrings instead of elastic, and girdles were hard to get. One day when I was walking home from school, my drawstring broke and my underpants fell to the ground. I just walked out of them and didn’t pick them up. The kids around me were laughing, and I got yet another beating when I got home.

Gasoline was also rationed and at times was impossible to get, as were tires. Dad had a boat trailer chained to a telephone pole in the front of our house. It had 2 good tires on it and Dad was offered $100 per tire, but refused to sell. Rubber products were very scarce and things like elastic and girdles were hard to get.

Dad managed the Piggly Wiggly grocery store in West Kelso. The store was only a few blocks from home so he walked or rode his bicycle so we could use our gas rations for Sunday drives in the country. We would go to Castle Rock (about 15 miles from home) for triple scoop ice cream cones. I really looked forward to both the drives, and the ice cream.

Earl Hughes at work at the Piggly Wiggly grocery store in Kelso, WA

It was difficult to hire men for jobs, so women took over. Some women moved to Vancouver, WA to work in the shipyards. Some worked in the aluminum plant in Longview, as well as the paper pulp plant and the lumber industry. Others built planes and military vehicles. Mom went to work in the butcher shop in Dad’s store, and for a change, Dad was the boss. Mom worked for Lester Lowe, who taught her how to cut meat. She was the only woman to be certified as a meat cutter in that union, and in the entire county.

The butcher’s counter at Piggly Wiggly in West Kelso. Mom’s mother Mildred Hughes worked there
during WWII as the only female certified meat cutter in the union.

Dad hired two women to help in the grocery store. After awhile, Mom became jealous and made Dad fire one of them. Mom quite the butcher shop and went to work in the grocery store. Lester Lowe had his wife Sally, start working in the meat shop. She took care of selling the meat but not cutting it.

With Mom working, my job was to do the cooking and cleaning. I had to leave straight from school, stop at Dad’s store to pick up whatever Mom wanted me to fix for dinner, and then come home to start the wood stove. One day Mom gave me veal steak. I had watched her cook steaks and after browning them, she would put some water on them to finish the cooking [braising]. After cooking the steaks, I covered them with water, not knowing Mom only put a small amount of water on them. For years, Dad never let me forget how I served “boiled steak’ for dinner that one time.

On every third Saturday, a load of planer ends (wood scrap from the lumber mill) was delivered, which I had to stack in the garage. It was mostly in one-foot lengths, some were smooth while other pieces were splintery, and you could always count on finding at least one dead, flat mouse in the load. Oh, how I hated Saturdays. And for all of this, I still got only 50 cents a week allowance. I continued the cooking and cleaning until the end of the war, but managed to keep up with my homework. [She would continue to carry a B average through junior high school.]

Wilma Hughes: Boys, Scouts and a World on Edge

Excerpted from Wilma’s personal journal which she wrote in September 2002 and May 2019. I have reordered her entries so they are chronological, and have edited for flow and clarity. My additions are in [brackets].

I joined the Girl Scouts when I was nine years old. My troop leader was a Cowlitz Indian woman named Maude Waunassay Snyder. She was a short, round lady and lived in a river house at the Cowlitz River in West Kelso. Her brother Chuck, and her parents and daughter Jacqueline all lived there as well. We did a lot of short hikes and nature studies. The troop used to swim in the river next to the house, until we found that their toilet emptied straight into the river. Jacqueline was a mix of white and Indian and always had to be in the spotlight. I don’t remember her being part of the troop, but whenever there was an event with parents attending, she was always the main part of the program (usually doing a hula to the song “Hawaiian War Chant”).

One day the troop took a day hike up Goat Mountain in West Kelso. We took ‘hobo lunches’ (tied in a bandana and carried on a stick). At lunchtime, I found a beautiful, shiny green bush and sat in it. Turned out it was poison ivy. Maude grabbed me and we ran (and I mean ran) to my house which was about 15 blocks away. Mom put me in a tub of soda water and scrubbed me, yelling the whole time about how stupid I was to do such a thing. I didn’t break out in a rash, must have been the baking soda and water bath.

While I was in Scouts, I earned quite a few badges and reached First Class rank. At age 14 I was asked to be the temporary leader of a Brownie troop. We mostly played games, did crafts and went on nature hikes around the neighborhood. At age 15 I joined the Mariners, which was the equivalent to the Sea Scouts (in the Boy Scouts). When I was 18, I became a leader of my own Girl Scout troop.

One day at school, some boys decided to not let me out of a classroom, by holding the door shut. The door had a glass panel that I hit with my fist and broke. The movie “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” had come out that year, and so the boys started calling me “Mr. Hydey”. Years later, when I became a Scout Leader, I needed a ‘camp name’ for a day camp, so I used “Heidie” Years after that, when a young adult approached me and said “Hello Heidie” I knew they had been in one of my troops.

I had my first babysitting job when I was 10. The girl I was babysitting was about 7 and What A Brat! I had to be at her house at 7 AM so her mom could leave for work. I fixed breakfast, got her dressed and supervised her until 4 or 5 PM. On Saturdays I took er to a movie (her mom paid). I did all this for $2 a day. The job lasted only a few weeks before they moved away.

It was at this time that I had my first experience with ‘puppy love’. His name was Beryl. Oh, he was cute, with blonde hair, blue eyes and a scattering of freckles. There were several kids near my age in the apartment complex and we played together quite well. One day Beryl teased me and called me names. I got so angry and wanted to get back at him, so Camile (the girl I was babysitting) and I went into the kitchen and made some ‘bon-bons’. The recipe was newspaper soaked in water and formed into balls, rolled in cocoa powder and then rolled in soap granules. They looked really good, so I gave them to him as a peace offering. He wasn’t too happy with the gift and that was the end of that romance.

In school I always had squinty eyes. Mom was always telling me to open my eyes wide when pictures were taken. I remember a Girl Scout banquet where a photographer was taking pictures of the group, and when Mom said “Open Your Eyes” I did, and rolled them to the side to look at her. That’s when the photographer took the shot, and all you could see in the photograph were the whites of my eyes. Of course, when Mom saw it she got upset and said I looked like an idiot.

A school bus stopped at my school every day, dropping off grade school children before going on to the Junior and Senior high schools. The older boys called me “China Girl” and “Chinky”. I never told Mom as she would have made a big deal out of it.

In the fall of 1940, a new girl from England enrolled in our school. The War had started in Europe two years before [Pearl Harbor was attacked] and England had suffered severe bombing. Every time an airplane flew over the school, she would scream and duck under something [like a desk or a slide]. The kids laughed at her, and would pound on the desk or slide and make airplane noises to hear her scream and cry. I scolded them for doing that and pushed them away, and held her. The school principal had a good hard talk with those kids and they didn’t do it again. I don’t remember her ever speaking, and she wasn’t with us long before she moved away. I felt so sorry for her.

Not much happened the next 3 months. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president. We learned a little in school about Japan invading China, and Germany invading Poland. Those wars seemed so far away. Little did we know…

Wilma Hughes: Vacations and the Great Depression

Excerpted from Wilma’s personal journals which she wrote in September 2002 and May 2019. I have reordered her entries so they are chronological, and have edited for flow and clarity. My additions are in [brackets].

We moved back to Kelso in 1937 where I went back to Catlin School to finish 2nd grade. Many of my first grade classmates did not advance to second grade. I guess it was a good thing I finished 1st grade in Clatskanie.

We finally moved into a nice two story house on South 5th Street in West Kelso, which my parents bought from Jim & Minnie Spooner and which was right next door to where Grandma and Grandpa Hughes had lived. It had a garage, and a porch where I set up all my doll furniture, most of which Dad had built for me.

By this time, Dad was working in a grocery store. He would bring wooden crates home from the store and help me fashion a play house with them. [The grocery store may have been MacMarr Stores, a national chain which was purchased by Safeway in 1940. Mom also mentions a Piggly Wiggly throughout her writing although I have no photographic evidence of that prior to the 1940’s.]

The store where I think Earl Hughes worked, this shot is circa 1930.

There weren’t a lot of children my age but I did find some playmates. I made friends with Frances – a girl who lived in the apartment building at the corner of the block. We would play in the halls and bathrooms, and sometimes she would come to my house if she saw my things on the porch, since she could see that from her second floor apartment window. One day she took one of my doll dishes and ran home with it, and taunted me with it from her apartment, and called me names. I told my Mom, who told me to fight my own battles. Mom did nothing, and I never got the dish back.

On the other side of our house lived two other girls – Donna and Carol Ann Shellenbarger. They lived with their parents and a grandmother Headley. Donna was several years older than me, Carol Ann about a year younger and we had great times together. Their house had a big back yard with an apple tree we could climb. A few of her friends would come over, and we would all play hide-and-seek among the shrubs and bushes. We’d play among the sheets hung out to dry on laundry day, and pick apples in the fall, beating them against the tree until they were soft and then squeezing the juice out of them and pretend it was cider. In the basement there was a wood stove, where we would pull carrots from the garden and cook them in an old coffee can. Sometimes on Saturdays we would put on a variety act; she would dance and I would sing, and we would charge the neighborhood kids two cents admission. Carol and I would divide up the money and buy penny candy at the little store up the street.

One summer, Carol got a sun dress. I wanted one badly but my Mom said “no”. One day Mom and I were visiting the Shellenbargers, and Carol had on a sundress that looked like one of my underskirts, except that her dress was print and my underskirt was white. I went home, put on an underskirt and went back, proudly saying: “Look, I have a sundress too!” Mom shook me and spanked me in front of everyone and told me to get home. As soon as Mom got home, she took the hose she used to drain her fish bowl and whip the dog, and whipped me until I fell to the floor. She yelled that I had embarrassed her in front of her friends and whipped me some more. I never did get a sundress. [As you have probably notice, Mom was often whipped, sometimes in front of other people, and sometimes severly. It formed a pattern that would become multi-generational.]

When I was 8 years old, I took swimming lessons at Catlin pool, a block or two from the grade school. One year the chlorinating machine quit working and the chlorine was dumped into the pool by the bucketful. Four or five of us became very ill and the local doctors couldn’t figure out what we had. They thought it might be typhoid fever and I was given huge pills to take, which I hid under the mattress. Of course, I wasn’t getting any better. The doctors finally got together after asking their patients where they had been, and found that the common thread was the pool. We all had chlorine poisoning but finally did recover.

Mom made all my clothes, including my coats and farmerettes (called overalls now) and my underwear, which matched my dresses. Oh how I hated those! Kids at school would flip my dress up and tease me about them. Finally, when I was in the 4th grade, my grandmother [Velma Eastman] bought me rayon ones in pastel colors that were embroidered with the day of the week. She had taken me to Portland the year before and bought me a purple tweed coat with a velvet collar, and a purple felt hat with a brim. It was my first store-bought coat.

It was still the Depression, and I remember one of my schoolmates, who lived with her grandparents, brought an unpeeled raw potato as her lunch every day. I was so lucky that my mom baked our bread. She kept chickens and traded her eggs for milk, from a lady who lived down the street and owned a cow. We usually had chicken to eat on Sunday, with vegetables from our garden. Some nights our supper was bread [in a bowl of] milk. I loved those suppers and still on occasion will have them. [She continued this with her own children – we had milk-toast suppers frequently in the summertime when our Dad was out of town.]

I used to cut bouquets of flowers from Mom’s garden, load them into my wagon and sell them around the area. I also walked along the railroad tracks and filled my wagon with beer and pop bottles, and get the refund money from the grocery stores. The 5 cents per beer bottle and 3 cents per pop bottle was enough to pay for the Saturday movie. A serial was shown and always ended in a “cliff hanger” so you had to go back the following week. They were mostly Westerns. A full length movie was shown, plus a newsreel and previews, and was a great way to spend an afternoon.

The next few years were filled with school, and vacations with summer picnics in the country and weekend sleepovers at Grandma’s house. When Mom, Dad and I went on picnics, Dad would play catch or baseball with me. If there was a lake or river nearby, he’d take me fishing, teaching me to walk across logs. In the wintertime if the ponds were frozen, he’d take me ice skating, which was always fun. Mom and her sister Aunt Nella [Carpenter], and Nella’s current boyfriend would come along. Warming fires were built along the shore and there were thermoses of hot coffee and hot chocolate. Sometimes we’d even roast marshmallows.

Grandma Carpenter would take me and Mom blackberry picking. Oh how I hated that. It was an all day event, leaving after breakfast and not get home until dinner. It was always hot and dirty with flies and mosquitos and no food, just berries and iced coffee with cream & sugar. We wouldn’t stop until two washtubs were full. YUK!!!

In 1938 we took a vacation to Mitchell, OR. Mom had a school chum who lived there with her husband, son and daughter. The children were about my age and all of the clothes the girl outgrew were shipped to Mom for me to wear.

The woman ran a logging camp. There was a bunk house which housed 8-10 men; she did all the cooking and kept the books. Her day would start at 4 AM when she would pack the men’s lunch boxes and start making breakfast which was usually biscuits with gravy, pancakes with honey or jam, ham, bacon & sausage, fried potatoes, fruit,and lots of strong coffee. Sometimes there was oatmeal, toast and eggs. On Sundays it was steak & eggs and muffins. After breakfast was cleared and the dishes done, she had a few hours for herself before preparing dinner. The property was overrun with rabbits so rabbit was served as well as chicken, beef and lots of venison. For dessert there was always pie and cake (baked daily) and sometimes cookies.

Her children and I would catch young rabbits and bring them into the house to play with them. We were there for about a week. Her name was Florence and I think her husband was Henry. It was a really fun vacation.

Games that I played in school were hopscotch, leap frog, teacher, statues, jump rope, Red-Rover, London Bridge, and Farmer-in-the-Dell. The playground had two sets of swings, two sets of [monkey] bars, and two slides. On hot days, we’d take the wax paper from our lunches and sit on it as we went down the slides. The wax paper made us go faster. There was a huge maple tree that we were forbidden from climbing. The land where the school was located had been a Cowlitz Indian village centuries ago. We were told that Indian women used to swing their papooses from the lower branches.

At Christmas time, after we opened our packages, we would go to the homes of friends and sing and have Tom & Jerries (hot eggnog with rum & brandy). I had just the eggnog. If there was a piano, Mom would play it and Dad would play his harmonica. One year we went to the home of Babe Adkins and his wife, and they gave me a toy grand piano (which Kevin’s kids now have).

One Christmas we had family & friends at our home. My Grandma Hughes and Grandpa were there. Grandma did not believe in drinking and this always irked my Mother. When Tom & Jerries were served, Mom would put rum flavoring in Grandma’s egg nog. One year she started out using flavoring, then switched to brandy, and got my Grandma drunk. She thought it was so cute. I thought it was awful.

By now [1939-40], Grandma [Velma Eastman] and Grandpa [Harry Carpenter] had divorced, and Grandma married Lee Livermore, who died 6 months later from stomach cancer. She still ran the boarding house and was involved in the Townsend Movement, and although I never really knew much about that, she took me to some of the meetings. After Lee died, she stayed with us during her period of mourning. She would marry a third time, to George Purdy. They bought a farm on Pleasant Hill Road in Kelso, which was fun to visit. George let me milk the cow and feed the chickens. [George Purdy would die in 1956-57 in San Diego; Mildred and Earl Hughes would retire in the 1970’s to a home they bought which was next door to this farm.]

Mildred Carpenter: Adventures with Nella

Excerpted from Mildred’s letters and interviews I had with her between 1977-1990. My additions to her letters are in brackets and I have edited her letters to clarify family names and to put events into chronological order.

A posed shot of Mildred pulling Nella – note the cat under the wagon.

We moved back to Cebolla as Granddad needed some help. I used to wash dishes at Gram’s hotel [the Sportsman’s Lodge] for a nickel, and then spent it for a Hershey candy bar, so Gram got her dishes done pretty cheap.

They held school in one of the tourist cabins one winter. There were about 8 children altogether.

The tourist cabins at the Sportsman Hotel, where Mildred and Nella attended school.

The next year, school was moved to Uncle Grovers’s house [Grover was one of J.J. Carpenter’s sons]. He had a new wife and she was a teacher.

As listed on the back of the photo: Ernest Ogden, Esther & Johnny Songs, Carra Parsons, Nella Carpenter, Nancy Spamn, Mildred Carpenter, Willis Steavens, Douglas Span, and James Shackelford. The boys on the right end look like ‘hell on wheels’.

One noon, Nella and I borrowed a kid’s horse to ride. Things went along fine until we turned around to go back. The horse grabbed the bit and ran, and slipped on an icy curve and fell, throwing both of us into the bank. The horse left and we had to walk back to school.

In late spring, the coal mines turned their donkeys out onto the range for awhile. Several came to our school, so we put them in the school yard and rode them at recess and noon. There was one donkey who would break if any of us got on while wearing a hat. He threw me against a tree one day. I had back aches from that for many years.

During the summer, Nella and I were allowed to build a fire on a rocky formation near the river. We baked mud pies and had a great time. We spent a lot of time fishing. Played in the river but never learned to swim.

When I was eight years old [1916] my grandfather’s sister came for a visit. She smoked a corn cob pipe and wore funny pantaloons under her long skirt, and knelt beside her bed to pray before retiring. You see, Nella and I peeked… She lived on one of the Carolinas, the Tar Heel State and I can’t remember which it is. [The Tar Heel State is North Carolina, J.J. Carpenter was born in Yancey, NC which is where the sister may have lived].

A couple of weeks before my brother [Bud] was born, Mamma went to Gunnison to stay with cousin Margie until birthing time. Daddy hired a woman whose name was Shedhalter. She was a guest once and chewed tobacco. Used to remove a lid on the kitchen range [cast iron cookstoves had lids where modern stoves have burners], chew tobacco and spit into the firebox. Don’t remember that she ever missed. She told some mighty weird stories…

Several months after Bud was born [the summer of 1917], Mamma’s mother [Carrie Proper Eastman] died. Mamma went to Denver for the funeral and Bud was exposed to chicken pox on the train on the way there. Nella and I caught them afterwards, and we were so sick. Grandma C [Louise Wiseman Carpenter] stuck us off in a bedroom and it seemed like she seldom came to see how we were. Mamma and Daddy were gone at the time.

[Harry John Carpenter was born in Gunnison on January 28, 1917. Everyone called him Bud which was the name he kept throughout his life.

When I was about 10, my father got a job with Jim Spann in the Jack’o Cabin Valley. We moved into a house at the end of a cow pasture. There was a nice spring where we got water. Nella and I used to take two white cats, dip water and drown out mice for the cats to kill.

When I was 12, Jim Spamn hired me to drive a sulky rake and a mower during the hay harvest. I didn’t like mowing. There was too much to look out for to protect the sickle. One summer Larry Spann gave me the job of sharpening sickles. I nicked a few blades, thinking he would put me back out in the field, but he just brought them back to be resharpened. He said I was the best sickle sharpener he ever had.

I used to wave at a boy, who was working in the hay fields for a neighbor. A year later I met him. It was Earl Hughes.

Nine years later, I married him.

Mildred Lucille Carpenter Begins

Excerpted from Mildred’s letters and interviews I had with her between 1977-1990. My additions to her letters are in brackets and I have edited her letters to clarify family names and to put events into chronological order.

I was born at noon on September 25, 1908 in Cebolla, CO. I arrived a half hour before the doctor did. I think my mother was angry at me all of her life for that…

Someone loved me though, because Edith Seeley’s mother wanted her first grandchild’s picture taken in a dress that was hand embroidered net, made for her first baby (Vern) who died when he was four months old. Edith still had the dress but it was short, since her mom had tried to make a blouse out of it. [I have not pieced together the Seeley side of the family yet, but believe they would have been Mildred’s great-grandparents].

My parents [Harry Freemont Carpenter and Velma Eastman] lived in a sportsman’s village in Cebolla when they got married. It was a train stop. The train left a mail bag there at noon and again at 4 PM when the train returned. There was also a wagon road leading west to Sapinero and east to Gunnison, though most travel was by train. It was a place where people could vacation, fish and hunt. In the fall the Carpenter boys would take hunting parties into the hills to hunt deer, elk and mountain sheep.

Dad built a four room house about a quarter mile from Granddad’s hotel [the Sportsman’s Lodge built by J.J. Carpenter] and we lived there for awhile, before moving near Fowler, CO, where Dad found a job.

I remember walking into my mother’s bedroom one morning and there was a baby sister, whom Mom had named Nella [born June 4, 1911 in either Fowler or Boone, CO] That was such a surprise.

The other side of the postcard, presenting a new mystery – “the D Woman”

We lived near Fowler for 3-4 years before moving to Steamboat Springs. My dad worked in many places – on ranches, and road construction, and any other job that came along. He must have been doing road construction when we lived here, because he left each day with a team and wagon.

During the move to Steamboat Springs, I stayed with my Grandparent Eastmans [John Eastman, Carrie Proper]. Grandpa Eastman was very ill with heart trouble. One day he asked me for a drink of water, and when I gave him the glass, he drank, then leaned back and died. It was my first experience with death.

There were a lot of springs at one end of Steamboat Springs. Mamma and some lady used to fix picnic lunch and go down to the springs. One of them made the best lemonade. One of the springs was full of sulfur and smelled like rotten eggs.

During the winter we would go to the ski jump and watch the skiers sail through the air. it was quite thrilling. I started school there, and one year in the early spring, I took a shortcut home and fell through crusted snow and into the water. Soon afterward I developed double pneumonia, and spent several days in bed with big poultices of ‘Denver Mud’ on my chest to try to draw out the infection.

Wilma Hughes: Seaside and a Hobo Visit

Excerpted from Wilma’s personal journals which she wrote in September 2002 and May 2019. I have reordered her entries so they are chronological, and have edited for flow and clarity. My additionL notes are in [brackets].

When I was about three years old, we moved back [to Washington State] from Colorado. My next memory was of us living in a tiny house with a dirt floor in West Kelso. I remember kerosene lamps used for light, and a wood-burning stove which was used for both cooking and heat. There was no indoor plumbing. Water for baths was heated on the stove and poured into a large oval shaped washtub. Father used the water first, then Mother, then me. By the time my turn came, the water was not very clean.

As a small child I had a dog named Pal. She was part Spritz and ‘who knows what else’. My Mother was a great believer in spankings Believe me, I got many of them; one even took me to the floor. Every time she spanked me, Pal would attack her. Later on, Pal was given to a man who always stopped to pet her.

The following year we lived in a house in Kelso near my maternal grandmother [Velma Eastman Carpenter]. I remember one hot summer night when Mom, Dad and I were sleeping on the floor; there was a fire somewhere close and the reflection of the lights from the firetrucks scared me. That same year there was a flood. As I watched the water coming down the street, I remember Mom handing me to a boy on a bicycle, telling him to get me to the school which was on high ground.

I remember living in an apartment on Vine Street in South Kelso, built high off the ground. I don’t remember much of it except that I was in a kiddie kart [a rolling walker]. Mom later said that I learned to maneuver in it pretty quickly, and never got into a corner that I couldn’t get myself out of. I also remember Mom sprinkling dampened cornmeal on the floors before sweeping them, which she said kept the dust under control.

At Christmas that year, I was at my Grandma Carpenter’s boarding house, and had my first meeting with Santa Claus, which I think was actually her brother, John Seeley.

I must have stayed at my grandma’s house a lot, as I have fond memories of Grandpa [Harry] Carpenter coming home from work as a logger, and always having a little bit of his lunch left in the lunch box which he had saved for me. He smoked Prince Albert tobacco in a pipe.

Harry Carpenter, before he was a logger and Wilma’s Grandpa

I loved being at Grandma’s. In her front room was a big wooden rocking chair that creaked when you rocked. She let me help pick peas in her garden and then shuck them. She always had flowering sweet peas growing along her fence and I could pick them. I loved the smell and the beautiful colors.

We lived in Seaside, OR when I was about 5 years old. Our house was small but OK; it was on the beach in a high, sandy area. I remember walking around town, there were such wonderful smells. The salt-water taffy store, and and the tavern with its smell of beer and hamburgers. Sitting outside the tavern was an older man who played a banjo for money. There was a store that gave me a paper fan – they type that opened into a circle. We lived in a row of elevated apartments next to a large field. Very early one morning, we were awakened by a God-awful racket. The circus was setting up in the field!

Longbeach, 1935. Wilma at center, behind her sits Edith Seeley, Velma’s sister. Mildred on porch, Velma stands near the #5 post.
Unidentified woman at left, unidentified man behind her.
Wilma and her dad, Earl Hughes

There was a children’s pet parade that I wanted to be in but I didn’t have a pet. A lady who lived up the street let me borrow her little dog so I could be in the parade. Mom, Dad and I would walk along the promenade and watch the ocean. Sometimes we would swim in the big indoor pool. At the end there was a section of deck that had a waterfall you could sit under. Dad and I would play in the water while Mom sat under the waterfall. She never swam because she said she had almost drowned at one time.

Mom and Dad dug clams most every day; it seemed like we lived on them. I would look for sand dollars and shells, and play in the little tide pools.

One late, late night, there was a knock on the door and there stood two of Dad’s cousins, Earl and Jesse Miller. They had ridden the rails from Oklahoma and were looking for a place to stay. They were hobos – hopping freight cars and riding until they were caught and thrown off. They would go to places and beg for food and hop the next freight car, and do it over again. How they found us, I never knew. We fed them clams until I thought they would burst. I was in awe of them as they told their hobo tales. They crossed the country several times, taking their sister with them once because she had threatened to go alone if they didn’t take her with them. They took her ‘hoboing’ a couple of times but she decided that wasn’t the life for her.

On my 6th birthday, Mom fashioned our round dining room table into a May Pole, and a few friends came to the party. I received my first pair of roller skates and learned to skate on the sidewalk. One day my cousins Billy, Clair and Ray Jr. walked up the sidewalk while I was skating, and Ray Jr., who was 9 years old, grabbed me and kissed me. I bit his lip and drew blood. He never tried that again…

In September, I started 1st grade at Catlin Grade School. It was several blocks from home and I don’t remember anyone walking with me. The land where the school was The school was 3 stories tall, and the basement was divided into 4 sections. The furnace room divided the boy’s play area from the girl’s, and the cafeteria was across from the furnace room. Hot lunches were served on Mondays (Spanish Rice) and Wednesdays (Chicken Noodle Soup), and egg salad sandwiches were served on Fridays.

Progress note for Wilma at the end of first grade.

We moved in November to Clatskanie, OR where I finished 1st grade and started 2nd. I remember that the school was quite large, and that if we played in the gym, we had to take our shoes off. I also remember being in the music program, where we all wore red crepe paper capes and pillbox hats, and I played the triangle. During a performance, someone opened a door and a gust of wind blew off my hat, and everyone in the audience laughed. But I was absolutely mortified.

The house we lived in was on a hill, with a well and an outhouse in the back as there was still no indoor plumbing. I used to visit a lady who lived down the hill and a few blocks away. We would have tea together – English tea for her and Canterbury tea for me (hot water, milk and sugar0. I loved her kitchen; it was painted yellow, with lots of windows and a plate rail where here collection was displayed. It was a strong contrast to the dark kitchen at my house. She would play her music box for me, which played the tune “In a Country Kitchen”. The girl who lived next door would play with me. She had a wonderful blackboard on an easel, which had a roll of pictures that you could turn with a crank. When we had snow, she and I would use her sled to slide down the road from my house.

After school, I would walk to the grocery store that Dad ran, and Mom would heat a can of soup for me on a small electric hot plate. One time there was a drawing at a department store for a Shirley Temple doll, 2-feet tall with a pink dress and white rabbit fur coat and matching pillbox hat. Mom won it! I thought she was going to give it to me but she kept it on her bed and I was never allowed to touch it. The day she caught me holding it was the day she spanked me until I fell to the floor.

That Christmas, we drove to visit Grandma and Grandpa Hughes. That was the year I received my wicker doll buggy and my china doll dishes. In the spring, my cousins visited us and Ray Jr. threw my trike down the well. I don’t think it was ever retrieved.

Wilma Hughes: Starting life near our hunting lodge

Excerpted from Wilma’s personal journals which she wrote in September 2002 and May 2019, with additional notes that I gleaned from other family sources [in brackets].

“My earliest childhood memory was when I must have been two or three years of age. It was when my family lived in Colorado.”

“I was pushing my great-grandmother in a swing. She was very tall, wore glasses, and had on a long black dress. It may have been my great grandmother Carpenter, or possibly my great aunt Maude Carpenter Darlington. My mom said my hair went straight when we moved, which she attributed to the dry atmosphere.”

[What my mother did not mention, or perhaps did not know, was that her parents met in Colorado. Her mother, Mildred Carpenter, was the granddaughter of J.J. Carpenter, who acquired land in Cebolla, CO under the Homestead Act in 1908, and developed it it onto the Carpenter’s Fishing Resort and Sportsman’s Lodge. The story behind this property and the dynastic family who operated it has fascinated me for most of my life.]

The Sportsmen Hotel in Cebolla, CO. This photo is inscribed on the back “Mr. Harry Carpenter from Dad, Jan. 21, 1917. Photo from my personal collection.

[My mother’s parents, Mildred Carpenter and Earl Jesse Hughes, married on June 10, 1928 in Gunnison, CO, nine years after they had met during a hay harvest. I haven’t yet pieced together what possessed a pregnant woman to travel by train – against doctor’s orders – from Gunnison, CO to Kelso, WA, but Mildred did that very thing in October of the following year. Some of the Carpenter family had already relocated to the Kelso area, again for reasons that are not yet clear to me. Mildred gave birth to my mom in April 1930. I don’t know if Mildred’s husband, Earl, joined them in Kelso, or if she and Baby Wilma returned to Cebolla to join him there.]

Wilma Lee Hughes Begins

According to her baby book, Wilma Lee Hughes was born at 7 AM on Sunday, April 13, 1930 in Kelso, Washington, on a day when the cherry trees were in full bloom. She would be the only child of parents Earl Jesse Hughes (of Clinton, MO) and Mildred Carpenter (of Cabolla, CO). Dr. Frank Davis and his attending nurse, Mrs. Johnson, delivered the healthy 6.5 pound baby girl. She was named after Mildred’s voice teacher, who was a close friend.

Wilma descended from immigrants who landed in America in the late 1600’s, and whose heritage included German, Dutch, Russian, and Welsh ethnicities; gold prospectors, ranchers, loggers, bootleggers, rail-riders, homesteaders, and a US Supreme Court Chief Justice. On her father’s maternal side, her family (the Risings) has been traced back to 1225 A.D.

Wilma’s baby book, in addition to the standard birth and growth statistics pages, included a page to document “The Baby Was Carried Upstairs”. There was an old superstition that a baby should be carried upstairs, that it may rise in the world, before it is taken downstairs. This feat was accomplished by her mother on May 6th, when Baby Wilma was four weeks old.

  • First smile: April 19
  • First laugh: April 27
  • First tear: May 19 (cause unknown)
  • First shoes: August 10 [white satin with pink embroidery, shown below with what I believe is her teddy bear and a wooden pull-toy horse]
  • First haircut: November 6, by her mother “because it wouldn’t curl real nice”
  • First kiss: November 21 at age 7 months, from her father
  • First words: “Bye-Bye Pal”, uttered in January 1931 [Pal was the name of her puppy]
  • First steps: June 12, 1931

Near her first birthday, Wilma received an invitation to a Cradle Roll party “at Two O’clock March 17 at Christian Church Parsonage” in Kelso. Mrs. Philips, the sender of the invitation, asked that her mother bring an extra snapshot for the roll, and sent Easter Wishes ‘from the Cradle Roll Department” two weeks later…

Her mother also noted that when Wilma got her stroller, she learned how to move it within two days, and never did push herself into a corner that she couldn’t get out of…

Her bear, her first shoes, a horse that I believe was a pull-toy, built for her by her father.