By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Wed, January 01 2020 - 8:42 am
April 4, 2020
The number of deaths worldwide from coronavirus has tripled in a few days. This isn't news to anyone who is connected to the web or tv.
The cloud of depression I am beginning to feel settling over the town has begun to feel like the gloom I experienced in a pediatric clinic where I worked during the nineties. The hospital of which we were part turned the clinic's management over to a private concern, and the nurses took a significant cut in their pay which had just been raised by five dollars an hour - thanks to their union.
Luckily for the nurses, the union went after the hospital and got the raise reinstated. I don't see such a timely end to the predicament of the present world crisis.
This morning my partner went grocery shopping wearing a bandana, partly because he works in a hospital.
I don't wear a face barrier yet, but I do kind of fancy going on my walks with a bandanna - and my cowboy hat!
Where's my horse?
April 3, 2020
Indiana is up to 102 deaths from coronavirus! I think just yesterday it was seventy-eight.
We now have 4 or 5 cases in our county, depending on what source you believe. I'm sure it is more anyway.
Gorgeous spring weather. Going on a walk!
March 31, 2020
Coronavirus has finally hit Jefferson County. Last I heard, one resident has tested positive.
Jos and I took a drive today northeast of town. It had been too long! We saw quite a few farm animals, and it was cool enough that some of them were pretty lively!
The most charming sights were two palomino miniature horses running together, one seemingly attempting to nip the other on the side ( sibling shenanigans or trying to mate??) and a couple of big but young and playful goats.
We also saw trees in full bloom and lots of cliffs along small creeks.
One strange phenomenon I don't remember seeing before was tree branches sheared off along the side of the road with no care at all for avoiding creating avenues into the trees for pests or disease. Really messy-looking, too. Poor trees.
We have wanted fresh flowers but can't buy any. I've not been so tempted to steal some for a long time! Just a handful of daffodils....
One of the silver linings of the pandemic is much much less junk mail. Another is involuntary savings. Another is the prospect of fewer crowds and loudly amplified music this season. Fewer parties and festivals, in other words. What a curmudgeon I am!
Meanwhile the curves of numbers of infections and deaths in the U.S. go up up up. I don't believe the numbers are leveling off yet.
March 25, 2020
If Governor Cuomo's prediction is correct, my grace of space local calculations are overly optimistic.
Let's hope our receipt of information about proactive preventive measures will help keep the virus down and out.
Factories in Kokomo, Indiana, are making more ventilators than usual. I have no idea how many places in the U.S. make ventilators, so I don't know whether this is big news, but it's good to know they are being made nearby.
Indiana deaths are up to fourteen.
News from Italy is awful. If you are over sixty and get sick, the country is basically letting you go. Whether this is accurate reporting, I do not know. It is effectively happening in some nursing homes in Spain.
In case there is anyone who hasn't got the message yet, this pandemic is very bad.
For scoffers, you may find a "live free or die" attitude becoming, "Live free and die."
Good luck, all!
March 22, 2020
Just read a description of his bout with coronavirus written by a nurse, aged thirty-one. It is vivid and sobering. We are told by authorities to self-isolate if we show symptoms, but from the point at which he had a low fever it was just a few days before he would have died if he hadn't gone to the hospital when he did.
This is the point in my narration at which I would say don't hesitate to get tested - if there were any tests to get.
At least Spring is officially here. I have abandoned flannel bed sheets and pajamas and feather comforter in hope which last night proved not yet well-founded. We warmed up eventually, though, and managed to oversleep this morning.
Our big plan for the day is a stroll outdoors, all other options being literally closed.
There are those in our community who seem to think we should all stay indoors, but especially in a small town nestled alongside a very wide river, that seems to be a good way to invite a swift predictable death rather than a slow uncertain one!
Indiana has now four deaths to lay at the feet of coronavirus, Jefferson County none. Or is that just because "they," with little testing capability, say so?
New York State has been declared by its governor a disaster area, the progression of the U.S. curve similar to Italy's, which has been very hard hit.
Right now the cities really are ridden with evil.
There but for the grace of relative isolation go we, the small-towners.
March 20, 2020
This morning I mistakenly reported coronavirus here in Jefferson County.
I'm wondering how many real cases are evolving or emerging and thinking all through this process of trying to stay ahead of this virus we have been one step behind.
Day before yesterday I took antiseptic wipes with me down to the laundry room in our apartment building to wipe down the washer and dryer buttons before and after I used them and started worrying about my quarter supply.
Yesterday I decided maybe I should get ahead of the game (I thought) and, surprised that the lobby was open, walked into the bank and got two-month's supply of quarters. I asked about possible bank closures, and the teller, whom I did not know, told me they hadn't been announced yet as far as she knew.
Today I read that although bank lobbies are still open, it might be better (safer) to go to the drive up windows.
I had gone to our bank's lobby because it was closer to home and (of course) more pedestrian friendly.
Now I realize - dang! - I had a better chance of getting brand new shiny (clean!) quarters at the drive-in window.
A deadly disease at our doorsteps and student spring breakers partying heedlessly (and needlessly (thanks, electronic editor!) en masse on the Florida beaches because they don't believe the coronavirus will kill them might just kill the rest of us.
And your parents, dear children, are most likely helping with your tuition.
Okay, I admit it. We are unprepared. I thought we had a few more weeks.
Oh, by the way, just now I read for the first time that digestive problems are often one of the first symptoms of the coronavirus, a fact that has been known in China for months.
I hear that some students in Porter County bordered by Lake Michigan are starting journals about the pandemic. Kind of like I started a few days ago.
Well, good. Mine will be pretty much a local perspective, from the point of view of one of the "vulnerable" old.
March 18, 2020
We have been watching with horrid fascination the inching of the rotavirus county by county closer to us in Jefferson County. Most of my relatives live in bigger cities across the country already occupied by at least a couple of cases.
I walk outside and my partner went to the gym and the grocery store yesterday, as he used to do almost every day he wasn't working.
People coming home to the apartment building are telling stories about no bread at the Dollar Store and shoppers trying to buy heaping cartloads of toilet paper.
The library and schools here in Madison have closed, but that didn't stop twenty-odd children from playing in the Steamboat Park the other day.
Probably the same kids who haven't had their vaccines because their parents don't believe in germs.
Maybe I am just hypersensitive because my partner works in a hospital so he will be at the front lines of whatever serious cases migrate to our county and our town.
It wouldn't be so bad if there were plenty of tests, because then we could at least know where our community stands, but I have read that even a physician in a major Indianapolis hospital couldn't be tested.
As of now, 7:21 a.m., I read that Indiana has thirty reported cases and 2 deaths.
March 8, 2020
Why oh why are the only sexual predators of social standing we bring to account old toothless lions? Weinstein and Cosby are just two examples.
Don't say these are different times. Rape and rape facilitated by drugs like rohypnol and even alcohol have been illegal for as long as I can remember.
These people know they are doing something wrong. Their friends and associates just do not want to believe that they are doing it. #metoo won't mean a thing for anyone if these predators are only brought to justice twenty-five years and twenty-five victims later.
Can't we find a way for these victims to share their experiences with others so that their numbers don't swell?
Sometimes I think victims feel sorry for their abusers because they attribute their inappropriate behavior to love of them alone. Don't fool yourselves, young women and girls. Rapists are yielding to their love of themselves.
March 6, 2020
I hope it's an urban myth - this story that someone in the Northeast who had coronavirus left the isolation unit of a hospital to attend a convention, potentially exposing hundreds to the disease.
Add to that the people encouraged to self-isolate just in case, but offered no support to do so, and we have a pandemic not waiting to happen, unless we are lucky.
Oh, well. There is nothing I can do about it -
I wash my hands of it.
March 4, 2020
The last week has been three cold days followed by three warm days, so for the beginning of the week I wasn't think much about Spring.
Then, astoundingly, I saw white crocus buds in a neighbor's yard. It made me realize I was behindtimes with my flower observations.
Oh, no! The winter aconite! I may have missed it. There is a big patch of it a couple of blocks away, and most of it was blasted. But I did manage to catch a few yellow blossoms before their season passed.
Today when I passed the neighbor's crocuses, they were in full bloom. Other recent sightings are hellebore, at this time neither Christmas nor Lenten Rose, and some teeny-tiny white lawn flowers I don't remember ever seeing before.
I almost forgot the miniature daffodils blooming in clumps.
March is making a wonderful beginning this year!
March 1, 2020
February tried hard to set March up to coming in as a lion by providing wind and snow in its last few days, but I don't know - today is more like a bobcat, maybe. A little windy, perhaps, but the temperature is supposed to go up to sixty! A cool pussycat.
I have been on some walks since I wrote last but haven't seen much wildlife. A gorgeous Cooper's hawk, tail and wings spread, flew past me just a few feet away while I was walking on the Riverwalk. That's a first!
Otherwise it has been squirrels and geese, squirrels and geese. I don't know if the dearth of observable beasties is a lack of wildlife or my failure of perception.
Winter isn't over yet and I am hesitant to tempt fate by saying it wasn't much of one, but I'm not complaining. I'm too ambivalent about balancing the hazards and beauty of winter. Even though I drive rarely these days even walking on packed snow or ice is scarier than it used to be. This winter has provided me with only one or two opportunities for a fear-of-falling frisson.
The political winter we are enduring, of course, is the source of daily frisson and, occasionally, all-out falling-into-a-bottomless canyon terror.
Facebook memes advise me to stay calm and have a cup of tea.
Since my hot cuppa these days is usually hot water, over mental discipline I choose distraction. I read.
Can you imagine the days when reading was considered new-fangled?
I'm pretty sure there was more wildlife back then.
February 20, 2020
Last month at our book club one of its members said, "I'm so glad I don't know everything."
Putting the obvious reaction to this - the fact that none of us knows everything - aside, it set me thinking.
I'm still thinking.
Meanwhile, I have been reading an amazing book called Sandworm about cyberespionage and malware. Non-fiction.
Would this word to the wise mean you should read it or avoid it? Would it inform you or depress you?
My amazement and appreciation for being forewarned (concerning a reality I will probably do nothing much about) might be just a burden and drag to you my dear reader.
But I read the most amazing thing in that book by Andy Greenberg... gee whiz golly gosh darn!
I mean no harm.
February 12, 2020
Yesterday while watching an old Teachers' edition of Jeopardy something happened which was illuminating.
A Greek expression which meant "the common people" has come to mean when we use it now, the upper crust.
The answer came to me immediately: hoi polloi - and with that answer came a rush of amazement, astonishment, and anger. Well, at least irritation. I just couldn't resist the alliteration.
I always thought hoi polloi meant the commoners. My earliest association with the phrase is with the people on the main floor in the Globe Theatre described as rowdy and filthy. I have seen the phrase many times since and read it with that understanding until somewhere in my middle years I realized the context didn't support that definition.
I looked it up and found out that it "meant" the upper classes, the ones who would occupy the boxes in the theater! In other words, my understanding had been "corrected" by people who were wrong!
How did the meaning get reversed? Maybe hoi sounds like high and polloi resembles people. I don't know where/how the shift occurred.
But why did I feel so irritated if not angry?
Because in that phrase is the story of my whole ducking life.
See? Even my ducking nonhuman artificially unintelligent electronic editor thinks it knows more about what I am trying to say than I do.
Well, duck it. Pardon me for diving.
February 9, 2020
Oh, my, the year seventy-two has been difficult. It hasn't been as horrible as some years. It hasn't been as bad a year, really, as some people's whole lives. I shouldn't complain.
But everything is relative, at least as far as subjective perceptions are concerned. Just as I used to notice that I, a lowly catering server who stuck strictly to my duties, was having more fun at the parties I worked than some of my guests, I see that my life as a retiree has some decidedly unenviable moments.
This morning I experienced one such moment as I was brushing my hair, which I have always considered a lucky genetic inheritance. It's thick and has a kind of rogue wave that amuses me.
A week ago I got a very good haircut. It was a great haircut, really. I was pleased.
Until this morning when I finished brushing my hair, which looked really fabulous (modest blush) and realized it didn't match my face!
My fabulous hair didn't belong with my wrinkly old face. It looked like a wig.
For a second I thought I was wearing a wig!
A great wig, but still... now I'm afraid that someone will try to out my secret by pulling my hair, like on TV or some outrageous movie. Please don't.
The year seventy-two has had some pleasant surprises and some wonderful developments. I shouldn't complain.
At least I have a wonderful wig to cover my ever-elongating ears and whatever hearing devices that may accrue to them.
That is, I have it for a while.
February 2, 2020
All the nights are starless now.
This is a small town, not much bigger than the town I grew up in (then) but its night-brightness precludes constellation identification. Of course we can see the moon from down here along the river. Sometimes we see Venus. No stars.
Of course, maybe people who live farther from the business districts can still see a star-studded vastness above them, but I doubt it.
City dwellers who don't escape their concrete confines probably go decades without experiencing the vastness that would make them feel small.
Not like a cockroach small - just peacefully, humanly infinitesimal.
January 28, 2020
It has happened again. About a week ago a "tall, elderly man with a cane" was hit near the corner of East and Main here in Madison. As far as we can tell it wasn't reported anywhere but the local gossip Facebook group. Rumor has it that he is in a hospital in Louisville in critical condition.
Of course rumors are rumors and might be exaggerated, but what is really exaggerated in this town are reticence and secrecy about what is really going on.
You would think in a small town the word about everything would fly around at the speed of microwaves, but I am hearing an awful lot of silence.
On a positive note, the pileated woodpeckers I saw on Hatcher Hill Road were communicating via drumming and calling very effectively indeed!
Days later P.S. Rumor has it this accident victim is not elderly.
January 27, 2020
I never used to have heroes, let alone superheroes.
Now I do.
One set of heroes of mine are the brave young women on the show Escaping Polygamy, episodes of which are available on Utube (... I discovered by Googling the name if the show. We found it on Pluto.)
The hardest thing about leaving these Mormon sects seems to be the loss of the tight community of the similarly oppressed - perhaps rivaled by the actual physical threats presented by intimidation, virtual imprisonment and isolation perpetrated against members (especially female members) by a male power structure which rules pretty much absolutely.
It is no mistake that the Beehive is the symbol of the state where the Mormons finally found safe haven. The women are put to work, the men are either kicked out as boys (think of being treated like a drone!) or seen fit to help rule the roost, often with incredible entitlement.
It is no wonder that it seems to be harder for favored men to leave these communities. No way will they be able to maintain their sense of their own superiority in our more open society, which as well as much freedom has more severe proscriptions against polygamy.
It is almost enough to make a person bitter. To think that while my generation was trying to persuade people in favor of zero population growth some males in charge of Mormon sects had dozens of children!
I felt guilty for having three. Oh, the irony!
No wonder the world is so screwed, with millions of male descendants of Genghis Khan and hundreds of little Warren Jeffs running around liberally spreading their seed!
Nah, I admit it. It makes me bitter.
I have other heroes, though: my children. They have managed to survive their problematical childhoods to become wonderful people!
Maybe I have become more bitter with the decades, but I have also become more humble.
Now I have heroes.
January 24, 2020
A couple of years ago we watched a movie about McDonalds Drive-Ins and the man who took them nationwide. Roy something-or-other must have been right about the importance of names, because the name McDonald took fire but his didn't.
But what was so special about that name, I wondered? Why not O'Brien or McCarthy?
Last night while I wasn't asleep a possible solution came to me:
The name McDonald is quite evocative of the McDucks of Disney fame. Donald is the main guy, and he has an Uncle Scrooge who is filthy rich and has great adventures!
Everybody has heard of Donald duck. The only character more iconic of the original cartoon characters is Mickey, and nobody wants a mouse anywhere near their food.
I came to this idea because I woke up thinking about the Kardashians. I heard the name long before I heard anything about the individuals in the family. I still know little about them but the name.
How did they become such a big deal?
Well, sound out the name. Car, (America's symbol of freedom) dash, (two good meanings there) and ian. They sound like the members of a nation of dashing autos. What has more panache in our current society than a sexy speeding car?
Of course I have already analyzed Trump's name appeal: Donald (kind of whacky but endearing and seemingly harmless like Donald Duck) plus holding the trump card and trumpeting that fact around the world. Trump also shares the vowel sound of the famous McDucks.
I would go on to talk about words with rhymes to Trump like bump, clump, dump, frump, Gump (think Forrest), hump, jump, lump, mump(s), pump, plump, rump, sump, stump, slump, thump, ump, and the often negative associations thereof but that would invite the reader to do the same with my name, and it has negative associations of its own.
Hmmm... what will the next big popular name be?
Maybe it's not too late to change....
January 17, 2020
In the mid-sixties I first heard Tiny Tim singing, "The ice caps are melting, ho ho-ho ho" and it seemed like a grotesque fantasy similar to a campfire ghost story - something to scare yourself with, or laugh at.
In the seventies we started to hear from environmentalists warning seriously about global warming. A decade or two later, the environmentalists were talking about points of no return. In this century, these predictions began to seem like end of the world prophecies; the tipping point toward global catastrophe was always in the future. We hadn't reached it yet. There was still hope.
Now, with Australian wildfires and melting ice caps, I'm beginning to think the predictions of forty years ago were the accurate ones.
We humans have made too many decisions that have created conditions we can't control, and our denial of the consequences of our actions have made for an exciting and interesting future for mankind.
A future that we are now beginning to see unfold, I fear. Ho, ho-ho ho.
January 16, 2020
Plumping up the pillows and pulling down the covers to air out the bed to decrease habitat for moisture loving dust mites, I noticed my hip flask on my bedside table.
Years ago I saw a photo of a hip flask with a big eye painted on it. I wanted one just like it. Even when I was younger I thought it would be cool to have a hip flask. I don't know why - I rarely drink.
I told my partner about my fantasy, so one day he surprised me with a hip flask. I could put water in it, but what fun would that be?
Now it has pride of place by my bedside. It has never been filled. Every once in a while someone might see it who doesn't know me. They probably think I'm a real lush. It doesn't help that I get off-balance sometimes walking around town.
I fantasize that people who think they know I drink converse with the doctors to whom I report drinking little, and tell them I'm really a lush. I fantasize about telling them to sniff my bedside flask. They will smell nothing at all.
Hey, what can I say? Living in a small town makes anything seem possible - except anonymity.
At any rate, drinking alcoholic beverages is a no-no now. Same with coffee.
Guess which one I miss more?
January 13, 2020
Yesterday I had what I thought was a pretty good insight, but it wasn't a good time to write. Later I forgot what it was, but I had another idea. Since it wasn't as good as my morning idea, I held out for remembering the first one.
The "It'll come back to you" attitude, which used to be correct, often isn't these days.
Wish I were here.
January 11, 2020
Anthropomorphism, the practice of attributing human qualities to animals, is running rampant these days.
Now we need a new word for a new phenomenon: the changing of people into beings more similar to robots. I would like to call it robotomorphism. Or should it be called robotification?
Am I being too hard on the human race?
I was fearing for the survival of the word "epiphany" which I celebrated a few days ago.
A robot might come up with a unique solution to a problem, but it would not have any emotion accompanying that achievement. Poor robot.
How could the word epiphany mean anything to it? No such thing. For a robot, there could only be solutions.
January 9, 2020
Thinking about gravity the other day, I was struck by Newton's place in the order of gravitational considerations.
Why on earth was he struck by any idea other than "Owie!" when that apple fell on him, anyway?
After all, people had known about the downward trend of all objects forever. The Romans didn't build aquaducts without having observed waterfalls.
My thought was that we folk have to be hit over the head with something before a point gets driven home. And why would that be?
Or what about the bigger question, storywise: why would a human with half a brain lie beneath an apple tree heavy with turgid fruit?
The sad fact is we like a story better than we like the truth.
I'm quite sure my physics teacher explained the theory of the gravitational constant and probably mentioned and joked about Newton. What I am sure he did not mention was that when Newton "published" his mathematical formula at a scientific conference Robert Hooke said Newton had gotten the idea from him.
Probably Bill Bryson wrote the truth of the matter, but I don't remember. Hooke or Newton? I certainly don't remember. The formula about gravitational pull itself, which is not universally accurate, as it turns out? I just read it a few minutes ago, and probably won't remember it tomorrow.
All I remember is the stupid mythical story about a scientist dumb enough to loll around under an apple tree in the Fall.
He's lucky it wasn't a walnut tree occupied by a large family of squirrels.
January 7, 2020
In the fall of last year, I was walking up the Heritage Trail when I saw that one of the park benches had been painted in a pastel rainbow - one color for each board on the bench.
How fanciful! I couldn't help but smile. I saw it there once or twice and wondered who had decorated the bench in that way.
Then one day, there was no rainbow bench - just a metal frame that no one could sit upon.
What kind of person would make the decision to render a bench useless because it was painted in an unusual way?
It is really too bad.
January 6, 2020
Or should I say, Ecstatic Epiphany!
Because aren't we ecstatic when we have an epiphany?
Or - horrors is it possible to have a negative epiphany? A sudden apprehension of a horrible nature?
After all, look at the gifts of the wise men:
Gold - yay! We'll be able to make our way home in relative comfort!
Frankincense. Smells good, they say. Useful in a barn - especially to counter flatulence produced by all these animals. Whew! Helps reduce stress. It's all good!
Myrrh - um, for using when there is a death? Gee, thanks for the reminder of death when I'm barely embarked upon life.
But the reminder of death is a good thing if it is accompanied by advice about how to avoid it at the hands of someone like Herod, say.
Turns out myrrh is also an antibacterial agent, so that's mostly a good thing, right?
I guess epiphanies are always good, because they imply the acquisition of a truth about reality.
And that is always a good thing, right?
...(Well, - i don't know...)...but
Ecstatic Epiphany to you all!
January 3, 2020
On the ninth day of Christmas, I cannot feel merry I cannot feel happy because of our POTUS.
I had a friend a few decades back who thought the country was in terrible shape because we elected an actor for President.
It seems pretty ironic to me that now we are being "led" into hot water by a former reality TV show who has no sense of how most of us would like "reality" to be - especially the kind of real man we would like our President to be.
I've noticed no one is saying Happy New Year anymore.
No, now we're more than usually uneasy.
I wonder: has dT made any New Year's resolutions?
January 2, 2020
Today I have been laughing a lot. Loudly. Still in holiday mode!
Part of me felt kind of bad about it; we do live in an apartment, after all. Then I rationalized that maybe it might be good for the largely disenchanted youth around. It might be a sign that living into old age is worth it, after all.
Later I raised my voice with a different emotion and I heard a knocking. Oops. Was that a visitor knocking on someone's door, or an aggravated neighbor knocking on a wall or ceiling to get me to quiet down? I shut up. I will try to be more considerate.
It's been a great year so far, though.
Merry Ninth Day of Christmas!
January 1, 2020
Happy New Year! Happy Eighth Day of Christmas!
Such a relief to have reached 2020 at last!
The river is swift and high this morning - I feel a little the same. It is bright now, and sunny.
How can we not be the same?
There's a meme on Facebook that we will finally all be seeing 20/20 this year. Let's hope so!
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