Thursday, July 16, 2020

Poetry for a pandemic

To be of use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Around OakMeadows

Carolina Wren


We are getting a whole house generator. I have wanted to get one for several years. It is not so much for the occasional power outage but for the power outage that follows a hurricane. I am convinced that climate change will mean more hurricanes and more severe weather in general. We spent a miserable 3 days without power after Hurricane Ike even though we had a gasoline generator to keep fans and the refrigerator going. We are now 12 years older and less able to cope with the heat and humidity. I have 2 companies coming out next week to give us estimates. 

The Covid-19 pandemic continues. Google says 137,000 Americans have died from Covid-19; the NYT says 135,324. It is just hard to comprehend so many deaths. We are in the middle of a surge of cases with the daily death toll climbing.  From what I have read, the sequelae in recovery can be both long and serious. Joe and I remain in self quarantine.

It is very pleasant to sit outside under the trees in the mornings and read and watch the birds come to the various feeders. On a typical day, we see
Birds
     Doves
     Blackbirds (Grackles and Red-Winged Blackbirds)
     Woodpecker
     Cardinals
     Carolina Wrens
     Mockingbirds 
     Crows
     Carolina Wrens
     Chickadees 
     Blue Jays 
     Cattle Egrets 
     Hummingbirds 
Insects
      Little Sulphurs 
      Giant Swallowtail 
      Monarchs 
      Gulf Fritillary 
Mammals
      Squirrels 
      Raccoons 
      Occasionally a deer
I find watching the Wildlife very helpful in dealing with the isolation of the pandemic. And, of course, my two cats, Tigger and Henry, and my dog, Angie, do their part to keep the circus going.

I just started reading Walter Isaacson’s very entertaining and informative biography of Benjamin Franklin. More on Old Ben later.
      

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Covid-19 Update


Covid-19 is certainly running rampant here in Texas. ICUs here in the Houston area are at 97% occupancy.  I am not really surprised because many people have assumed that since businesses, parks, and beaches were open, the virus was gone and life could return to pre-pandemic states. Wrong. The virus is still here and we still have no immunity to it, no vaccine, and no miracle treatment for it. JMM and I have been under no illusions about it and have remained quarantined.  Covid-19 may be with us for a long time before a safe and effective vaccine is available. 

The economic damage this virus is costing is just incalculable. Unemployment is at Great Depression levels and as federal and state unemployment money runs out, people will become homeless as they are evicted because they don’t have the money for mortgages or rent. Very few people have the savings to live without a steady income for very long. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Poetry for the pandemic



On the Other Side
(Lynn Unger)
Through the looking glass,
down the rabbit hole,
into the wardrobe and out
into the enchanted forest
where animals talk
and danger lurks and nothing
works quite the way it did before,
you have fallen into a new story.
It is possible that you
are much bigger—or smaller—
than you thought.
It is possible to drown
in the ocean of your own tears.
It is possible that mysterious friends
have armed you with magical weapons
you don’t yet understand,
but which you will need
to save your own life and the world.
Everything here is foreign.
Nothing quite makes sense.
That’s how it works.
Do not confuse the beginning
of the story with the end.

A Day in Quarantine Life

A Day in the Quarantine Life

First of all, I must say that my life in quarantine is little changed from non-quarantined. I am mostly a homebody by nature and my hobbies and interests are mostly not socially oriented. Anyway, onward to a day. 

I like to plan my day; I’m not the free spirit who follows the mood of the moment. When I let the mood set the pace, the mood mostly leads to naps and overeating and nothing gets done.   
I get up between 6:00 am and 6:15 mostly because my two cats demand it. They vocally assert that they will die of starvation at 6:30 at the latest if I continue my sloven ways. So first things first, feed the cats, feed the dog, let everyone outside. Shower if it is a shower day—every third day—dress, and clean up the bedroom. Set Roomba going and get a load of clothes going in the washing machine.
Breakfast is usually a hard boiled egg, a piece of fruit, and whole wheat toast. Clean up the kitchen. Exercise with Mary Ann Wilson’s Sit and Be Fit at 8:00 am.
I usually have a cleaning task each day in addition to the normal picking things up, dishes, laundry, and litter boxes.
     Monday—Clean Master Bathroom 
     Tuesday—Clean out a cabinet, drawer, or closet
     Wednesday—Clean out garage or porch
     Thursday—Clean front bathroom
     Friday—Financials and Grocery List
     Saturday—Grocery Shopping (Online order, curbside pickup.)
     One day a week we usually go to a park for a morning walk, depending on the weather. And since this is Houston in the summer, we go early.
As soon as the chore for the day is done, I sit down with my current book and a snack of fruit and cheese.
Lunch is usually leftover something. I like to get everything set up for making dinner before my afternoon siesta. How I appreciate a nice nap! A major benefit of being retired. 
Afternoons are a hodgepodge of quilting, reading, and  writing. Cook dinner, clean up the kitchen, and set up for breakfast.
I used to watch the PBS evening news but recently stopped. I just can’t stand it right now. Evenings are Netflix, Amazon Prime, or listening to audiobooks or podcasts. 
Bedtime is between 9 and 10.
Get up and do it again.

Friday, May 15, 2020

June Menu

June Menu

1. Out
2. Bacon Sandwiches, Oven Fries 
3. Slow Cooker Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup 
4.  Baked Cod/Salmon, GMP, Salad 
5. Chicken-Spaghetti Casserole 
6. Steak, GMP, GB
7.  Leftovers 
8. Out 
9. Macaroni and cheese, Corn 
10. Schwan’s 
11. Tuna Salad Sandwiches, Veggies 
12. Oven BBQ Chicken, Beans, Salad
13.  Schwan’s 
14. Leftovers 
15.  Out
16.  Scrambled Eggs, Canadian Bacon, Toast 
17.  Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup 
18.  Baked Fish, Oven Fries, Salad 
19. Chicken Tenders, GMP, Mixed Veg
20.  Pizza 
21.  Leftovers 
22.  Out
23.  CB Hash, CSC 
24.  Schwan’s 
25.  Fried Shrimp, FF, Coleslaw 
26. Schwan’s 
27. Spaghetti and Meatballs, Salad 
28. Leftovers 
29. Out 
30.  St. Wieners, Corn

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Update on Weight Loss Project

When I went for my annual physical last December, I was told that I needed to double the dose of my blood pressure medication.  I knew that my BP was so high because I had gained so much weight. So in addition to doubling my dose of Lisinopril, I determined to lose weight. 

I decided to eliminate sugar from my diet. The big sources of sugar for me were Cokes, orange juice, and desserts. The first few days were complicated as there was sugar in my salad dressing, in BBQ sauce, in bread, and many other items.  I switched to Coke Zero and dropped the orange juice and dessert. (I had to stop the Coke Zero because I had an unusual reaction to aspartame. I now drink iced tea sweetened with Sucralose.)

I weigh only once a month and my goal is to lose 3 pounds per month. I started at 202 pounds and have lost 18.8 pounds. It has been a learning experience but not really difficult. I keep a container of veggies to munch on and have two pieces of fruit every day and eat my normal food. So far, so good. 

Exercise is Sit and Be Fit 30 minutes daily.