Gimme Shelter… page 21

Day 27 – 04/08/2020

A gentle-feeling morning, with fog hanging in the trees. We have a forecast high today of 84º with wind, so the softness at 7am is nice.

Speaking of nice, yesterday was. Kim had to deliver something across town and invited me to ride shotgun. The ride was welcome after being inside for about a month, but the sights were sobering – brought it all home in a big way. Pretty much nothing is open except for curbside pickup. Mass Street is a ghost town. Saw people on their porches, but not many out and about on foot, and no kids running around anywhere.

Our delivery was the wooden blinds for the balcony door, in need of having a cord replaced and restrung. The storeowner opened the door a crack and asked Kim if he’d traveled anywhere recently. When he said no, she motioned for him to step away, placed a rubbermaid tub outside the door, told him to lay the rolled-up shade on it, and when he was back in the car she reached out and picked it up. Hello, brave new world.

Prettiest day of the year so far – high 70s, little breeze, warm sunshine – felt like a big hug. When we got back from our errand, Kim rode his bike on the levee while I took all my toys to the balcony. He was home in an hour, wondering if 3:30 was too early to day-drink, and the party was on – we watched the pink full moon come up, and did our part to solve the problems of the world. Too bad nobody listens to us…

A gift this morning from John’s supervisor and friend…

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SQ Diary… page 20

Self-Quarantine Day 25 – 04/06/2020

Watched a movie, slept, got up, drank coffee.

Ate stuff. Played computer games. Left the news on, avoiding city hospital segments.

Folded laundry, paid bills, looked out the windows. Gray skies again.

Balmy afternoon, sans sunshine.

The minutes ticked by, the sun went down, we gave it up again.

*****

… Day 26 – 04/07/2020

The fine line between tuning out and DROPPING out is blurring a little. Yesterday had a never-ending quality to it and I thought far too many thoughts. Not having the answers to the simplest questions is a form of torture…

Being labeled an essential worker doesn’t make you expendable. But maybe we have an endless supply of dedicated humans to feed into the maw, so essential protections for the essential members of society are not an essential part of the picture. There’s no place to hide from that knowledge.

Knowing that nothing under the sun will ever change the conversation in America weighs heavy. It would be a well of strength if we were all in this together… but we can’t hook it up where it counts in a crisis. We’re fighting the virus, the unknown, our fears, ourselves, and each other while Americans of all ages die in a battle they can’t win. If this strikes you as being political, well… point made.

So that was yesterday, my diary friend. This morning is beautiful so far… biscuits & gravy in a bit… and here’s a puppy…

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SQ Diary… page 19

Self-Quarantine Day 24 – 04/05/2020

Another day, another conversation with my diary…

Yesterday baby sis, who lives across town, had a story to tell me that was too long for text, so we made the weird decision to use our phones for TALKING to each other. The belly laughs and the sound of her voice were good juju. I needed exactly that.

Sister Señorita Margarita Rita has called me her second mommy a lot of times since 1995, but she’s also returned the favor more than once, and she helped me take something off my plate yesterday that I wasn’t dealing with in a good way. Perspective… wisdom… and somebody with skin on besides Kim, saying words to me, making me laugh, letting me feel the lub. There was peace when I put my head on the pillow last night.💗

It’s sobering to know how much we need each other as humans and how much we generally despise each other, globally-speaking, on a daily basis. Those things are under there all the time, but we aren’t aware of them moment by moment because life streaks on and we make sure there’s no time for introspection, examination of facts, or new doors leading to unsettling change. We’re all so VERY human.

Solitude is my jam, but with the great world hum dampened to a murmur, I’m lonely for voices… life… people. Watching East Lawrence come alive in shades of green, white, and pink is conducive to sweeter moods, but the absence of all the walkers with their dogs and babies, the missing shouts of kids skateboarding, riding bikes and chasing each other down the street, makes the air feel a little ponderous and not quite real.

Not complaining, just observing. We never know what we have ’til it’s gone, and that holds true for all of life. We figure out how much it meant when it isn’t ours anymore. Stupid human pet tricks.

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SQ Diary… page 18

Self-Quarantine Day 23 – 04/04/2020

Fourth weekend of sheltering in place – Kim’s been out for groceries, wearing nitrile gloves and now a mask, and for solitary walks and bike rides, but I haven’t been further than the balcony since we shut the door. It’s okay, staying in isn’t a problem.

Just really not all about humans right now. For instance, I’d rather not know that in today’s economy certain people are considered too costly to save. The coronavirus effort is eating into the 1%’s share of the pie, and the worker bees, who are strictly Not Our Kind, are wasting, by which we mean utilizing in the name of life and death, “our” supplies. The supplies paid for with worker bee tax dollars and stockpiled for the use of the elites, not the states, most especially not the blue ones. Somebody forgot to tell Jared and his father-in-law how this whole “united states” thing works.

I’m not mad, bro, just doing a little self-healing… trying to accept the facts. It’s no surprise that the lives of boomers and other slackers mean nothing to gazillionaires, I know that in my bones. And since the man who would be king is incapable of accepting blame for anything… anything… he’s landed on the medical community as a scapegoat for this virus he said wouldn’t be happening here. I guess he and his tribe will never have need of those heroes. But even that new strain of cruelty isn’t shocking – we’ve seen everything he’s done and said for the past twelve years and longer.

What I’m still sorting is that people I love – and thought were intelligent, caring, compassionate, empathetic people – supported him, voted for him, haven’t backed off their fealty in any measure, and will brook no criticism of him. There’s a word for it.

I may have snipped an inch off my hair… more or less… here and there… I am killing at this stay-in-your-cave game.

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SQ Diary… page 17

Self-Quarantine Day 22 – 04/03/2020

Recurring thought, morning by morning… if Kim’s little electric clipper had a greater adjustment on it I’d buzz my head. I’d be plunged into the slough of despond if I did it, though, so I resist the urge. Looking like a surprised baby chick is likely the last thing I need at the moment.

Lit a fire under my own fanny yesterday and tore into the overabundance of paperwork on the dresser – in the digital age WHY are all these trees still being marched to the mill?? Grabbed a trash bag and stack #1 and didn’t stop until five piles of detritus had been purged and obliterated. Took me approximately 30 minutes and I kept less than twenty items out of the entire bagful. I will have learned nothing by this, but it was cleansing. Cathartic. Timely.

My thoughts never stray far from the immediate and where we find ourselves, and it’s clear to me that I don’t want to be like the people I don’t like. My blazing anger against people who are making this pandemic harder and more deadly than it would have had to be is justified… but will only serve to turn me hard and brittle, unable to move beyond my own wounds. My heart was prepared for a happy old age, it would be sad to surrender to bitterness and a permanent bad attitude at this late date.

DISCLAIMER: If I hear Donald Trump, one more time, accuse doctors and nurses of wasting/hoarding/stealing masks and other medical supplies I will throw an axe through the TV.

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SQ Diary… page 16

Self-Quarantine Day 21 – 04/02/2020

Dear Diary,

Can you help me?

That’s okay, I just came to talk, you don’t have to do anything…

Sleep – never my best friend, always kind of a flirty elusive thing – is messing with me again. We became BFFs after I married Kim sixteen years ago, and I slept nine or ten hours a night like magic, plus an afternoon nap. My brain shut off when my eyes closed, no worries, and out I went. Not liking this new normal where I lie down and my brain and body fight me and each other for the next foreseeable hours. So yeah, just thought I’d get that off my list…

I keep expecting to wake up one of these mornings and find that my focus has come back, some oomph, a hint of drive, but the opposite is happening… my give-a-shit is experiencing technical difficulties. Write a few words, read a page or two in a book, play Words with Friends, again, some more, work a jigsaw puzzle, stare out the windows. Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure there are a couple of bills buried on my desk, or on the dresser whose load never lightens while the little stacks become bigger stacks and get overly friendly with each other until nobody knows what’s what anymore. It was still looking slightly purposeful before all this hit, so I could pretend not to see it, but it’s time to sort it out…

Starting to sort the metaphysical aspect. It is what it is. It will be what it will be. People have made their choices, from the top down, and the wheels are in motion. No amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth will slow its roll. A Mariana Trench full of human tears won’t alter its course. The only unknown is how bad. Saw this morning that the Pentagon has ordered another 100,000 body bags.

Beyond a couple of trusted news people, the only voices I care to listen to are Andrew Cuomo and Dr. Fauci. Governor Cuomo’s calm measured tones, telling us the truth morning after morning with no varnish on it, are like a security blanket. He makes me cry every day because he’s a real human, taking responsibility, trying to protect his people, speaking TRUTH. I can handle just about anything if you give me the facts and get out of the way. Once you lie to me or show me you’re all about the cya, I’m done. The governor is respecting his fellow humans by giving it to us straight in a low-key way, and he’s a life preserver.

Thanks for listening… it helps.

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SQ Diary… page 15

Self-Quarantine Day 20 – 04/01/2020

Slept more hours than not last night, so there’s that. I’ve awakened my Sleeping Sciatic by spending most of my time at my computer, because sure, why not, so it has a say in everything right now including in the middle of the night. Would it kill me to at least FEEL good?

Haven’t yet worked my way past the basic divide in the pandemic issue… one side says it’s about people, the other says it’s about money. What’s being done to our medical community here in the U.S. is heartbreaking, infuriating, crazy-making. All I can do for now is try not to inflict myself unnecessarily upon the world until I can swallow the deeply-entrenched cruelty that’s been awakened in our society – lots of awakenings this morning, huh…

Maybe I just need to cut ’em slack? This from my friend Mylène AF in Quebec:

“Reading some people’s posts, I realize how many have not grasped the severity of this situation. The fact that we are in a time of exceptional circumstances where NONE of the old rules apply and only exceptional measures will do. Everything has changed forever. The world we knew before is gone. Let it go. Those rules don’t apply anymore. Move through the stages of grief if you must. There is a definitive before and after line here.”

**********************************

Jeff Bezos isn’t intellectually challenged, though, so this makes no sense. It strikes this farm girl as a no-brainer… If almost 9 million dollars per hour rolling onto your side of the ledger isn’t enough to take care of the people who make that money for you, there will never be enough. It will never happen. The poor(er) among us will never be cared for, ever. Today there is no one poorer among us than Jeff Bezos – I wonder if he’s even slightly embarrassed about telling us that.

But perspective helps. Kim’s been sending lush guitar notes through the house for the past hour and now he’s making the Saturday breakfast on Wednesday – he knows how to get me to make actual food part of my day, and the flavors are a mood-lifter – sloooow food, with the love cooked in, as my sweet cousin Lonnie Joe always said. Feeling better already.

So yeah, some food, more coffee, sunshine, birds, balcony, Kimmers is going for a walk after breakfast… I’ll accomplish one thing I can point to as participation in living… and we’ll find ourselves at the end of another day. We have only so many chances to get this right, by which I mean everything. We’ll either figure out how to help each other and survive as a species or we won’t, end of story.

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SQ Diary… page 14

Self-Quarantine Day 19 – 03/31/2020

Yesterday was Crash & Burn day. Encountered asshole-ishness all over social media nonstop, and by bedtime I gave in to the bruises and cried myself to sleep for the first time in about seventeen years.

My Pollyanna heart can never retain the fact that at least a third of my fellow citizens don’t want what I want. They prove in a crunch that what they want is chaos and license, and they’re making it harder for the rest of us to survive. And while we do what we can to protect ourselves and the people we love most, other Americans are calling us liars and accusing us of ganging up on their president.

Things like this don’t happen here, dammit, this is America. So somebody must be hoaxin’ us, right? Can’t be real.

SOMEthing real is happening. Medical personnel are dropping like flies – at least 51 doctors in Italy alone, I don’t know the current U.S. count – while they try to save the rest of us, without the tools they need. Wearing week-old masks (regs say to change after each infected patient) and draped in trash bags, slogging through hospital hallways clogged with patients on gurneys, hoping to save more people than they lose, and dreaming of just a couple of minutes to sit down somewhere. Or to pee – who knows when that last happened? Food? That was so two days ago.

The mean-spiritedness from the doubters is incomprehensible. Somehow it’s the fault of the medical profession that we’re all leaderless and stumbling in the dark? It’s OUR fault as ordinary everyday citizens that we allowed ourselves to be lied to without end?

The worst part of the pandemic so far – until the body count shocks everybody out of their shoes – is getting to know who we share a planet with. The philosophical/political/cultural divides are revealing more than we may have wanted to know. We don’t all share the same values, that’s being made painfully clear, and we’ve forgotten how to lay the differences aside for the good of all.

We can’t seem to communicate with each other – the two conversations never come together. It’s all about anger and suspicion and ideologies that simply can’t mesh – there are things unleashed in the nation that are tearing us apart at the seams, things that can’t be reconciled with the concept of a republic, a democracy, a united group of states. Unity has been shattered and replaced with a veneer of arrogance, an “I’m right, you’re wrong” approach to all of life.

It all feels unbearably sad. An ignominious end to a fairly good idea. We’ll still be a nation when this is over, in some bright tomorrow… but we’ll never be the same. That’s either the best possible news or the worst. Hope we all get to stick around for the ending…

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SQ Diary… page 13

Self-Quarantine Day 18 – 03/30/2020

Had my first sleepless night since the pandemic broke. Couldn’t get comfortable, tame the aching, stop my thoughts. The person charged with overseeing the welfare of the nation is bullying blue-state governors, accusing doctors and nurses of theft, hoarding, and black market activity, because given the chance that’s what HE would do. My disgust and fury are off the chain. City ERs and ICUs are war zones, nobody’s working their own angle, for god’s sake! Their only aim is to stay alive long enough to make a difference.

Jeez, any wonder I can’t sleep? Top epidemiologists in the world and he consults Mr. Baseball…

I never really knew what hate feels like until landing in this era. I’ve seen its effects all my life, especially during the Civil Rights struggle, and I watched the white supremacists come out of the woodwork during Barack Obama’s time. SPOILER ALERT: They never left, they somehow gained influence and they’ve brought friends. I’ve been angry at people, furious, ready to fight to the end… but I’ve never known what it was to hate. I’ve learned. I despise every atom of Donald J. Trump with a white-hot cleansing fire. I find no honor in him, no respect, no character, no intelligence, no self-control, no class. It’s ALL about him, ALL the time. He displays not an ounce of empathy for another living thing on the face of the earth.

Family members, friends, their kids, the nurses and doctors of the world, are on the front lines doing what they’re trained and conditioned to do, with one hand tied behind their backs. They’re putting themselves at risk every hour they work, and they do it by choice because that’s who they are. For them to be slandered with accusations of theft and waste is so out of the norm it doesn’t bear thinking about. They’re reusing nasty old masks and other personal protection gear, strictly against regs, because there isn’t enough stuff lying around to STEAL in the first place!

Lumpy has no idea what those life-and-death hospital scenes look like – just as he has no clue what real Americans deal with day to day during GOOD times. Suit him up, send him in, let him stay on his feet for twelve hours breathing through a funky mask and standing in body fluids. And then send him back in there the next day and the next. With the same mask. And when he whines, slap him so hard his cousins fall down.

I’ve wondered over the years what it would take for me to get political on Facebook again and bring it to my blog. Answer: this. All of it since 2015. It finally reached critical mass and toppled of its own weight. It’s my battle and I’m up for it… but first you cry.

DISCLAIMER: SOME of the white people in red states.

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SQ Diary… page 12

Self-Quarantine Day 17 – 03/29/2020

First things first. Kim checked after sundown last night and our silent visitor had taken leave of us. He/she must have been waiting for the cover of darkness before traveling on – maybe just needed a brief rest along the way. My Black Hills trail-guide friend Mark identified the bird as an American Coot, a little out of its normal range, maybe, but we’re part of their breeding grounds. We both went to bed with lighter hearts knowing our new friend was likely not ill after all, just taking a breather. We’re in love with those amazing feet designed for efficient swimming, and if the story DIDN’T have a happy ending we were spared that knowledge, chickens that we are.

It’s a gorgeous Sunday morning, cool, light breeze, temp headed toward 70º. Kim walked before the sun came up and now he’s on the balcony with his coffee and earbuds, having a workout with Paul Simon. I’m feeling a little better, little stronger, little less coughing every day. Ready for warm days and letting the sun soak into my bones.

A tiny epiphany just pinged my sleepy brain: I’ve spent a lot of the past twenty years saying to the world, in so many nonverbal ways, GO AWAY. Boys and girls, be careful what you ask for.

Just remembered that we regressed further into pioneer mode yesterday – no TV. Modem or box or whatevs likely needs replacing, but not on a weekend from a place that isn’t opening its doors for business right now. We miss the news and our car porn like Roadkill, Iron Resurrection, Mecum Auction. And sometimes the sound of other voices in this space is a bonus. So Kim was wandering down YouTube rabbit holes last night, and I had my nose in my iPad as usual. We will survive.

When hunger strikes, the KIMN8R will come in and make Sunday omelets, and the spa tub will get filled again, and we’ll keep rolling. It’s all fine in every way. LIFE… is good.

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SQ Diary… page 11

Self-Quarantine Day 16 – 03/28/2020

It was almost 60º when Kim went out for his 6:30am walk, and he’s been on the balcony catching rays since breakfast. The sunshine feels like a wonder drug.

This is my third Saturday on the inside, and I’m realizing I left the house a lot more often than I thought, even if it was just for a ride somewhere with Kim. Having the door and the blinds wide open is making the place feel a teensy bit bigger this morning and the sounds from outside are welcome. The freight trains are for sure still running.

There’s a sick bird on a window ledge just past our balcony and he’s breaking our hearts. Big, black with an ivory bill, huge feet. He stood planted in one place for hours and now he’s skooched himself into a corner and is breathing heavily. We feel ya’, buddy…

Hoping to stop coughing and get my energy back in time to capitalize on the down-time. All those sweet lil’ projects just waiting to be tortured into fruition and I sit here like a weenie. Warmer days should prove helpful in every direction.

So yeah, The Smiths at Home, not so very different except psychologically. One advantage to being joined at the hip or general vicinity for almost sixteen years is that we only get on each other’s nerves the usual amount, and we do still have separate corners we can retreat to. Mine’s up there behind the red chair.

Wondering if the nurseries will be able to open at all this year…

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SQ Diary… page 10

Self-Quarantine Day 15 – 03/27/2020

And it was night, and it was morning… fifteen days since I walked into our loft and shut the door. Kim’s in and out for necessities, but I haven’t even been in the hallways. I’ve been sick since we sequestered, but haven’t been tested. They’d just send me home to recuperate anyway. I cough and break into sweats ’round the clock, and in the night I wake up wondering if my next breath’s coming… but it always does.

On a far more critical front, moms of healthcare workers the world over are holding our collective breath, hoping our kiddos somehow get the protection and the supplies they need. It’s a limbo like this mama has never fallen into before and I’m not a nice person right now. Speak truth to me or get out of my face. Help or GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY. I’m not dying because of lies and I don’t want other people to either. But they are, dammit, more every day.

Food holds zero interest – I have to make myself eat. It feels counterproductive to tuning out. People are so very gullible and under-informed with their remarks – and so cutting – my belly’s doing flip-flops continuously. The hardest thing about the Trump Era is the cruelty.

Kimmers is filling the spa tub. We’ll soak and talk and I’ll probably cry and we’ll climb out feeling a little better somehow. So grateful not to be living this part of life alone… so many are, and dying without human touch to ease the transition. How much can hearts break and keep on beating?

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SQ Diary… page 9

Self-Quarantine Day 14 – 03/26/2020

Kimmers got his before-dawn walk this morning, and now he’s on the balcony in shorts and an In ‘n Out shirt, Pink Floyd blasting from his phone, keeping himself moving, staving off catatonia. He’s used to hours of court play every week, and lots of walking and bike riding. His guy-brain suffers if he doesn’t move more than he sits.

I, on the other hand, am a lump that coughs, so there’s much room for do-betters as the days pass.

And now he’s playing his Taylor guitar, letting it ring out there in the clean air. The days name their own schedule… whatever delivers us to the next hour… and the next… and thus unto sleep once again.

My guitar babe before I knew him…

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SQ Diary… page 8

Self-Quarantine Day 13 – 03/25/2020

Some sunshine this afternoon and a chance for fresh air, with the balcony door open. Kim’s heading off on a bike ride.

Our friend Ryann brought us two jars of Tacos Jalisco salsa from a trip out west, so Kim made the Saturday Breakfast for HumpDay. It tastes as good on Wednesday as Saturday, and we had a nice spa soak after because why not?

Still coughing, feel like an old sock, but life goes on. Everything’s relative… sooo very relative now.

Talked with John this morning ahead of his return to the hospital tomorrow. Lots of things we aren’t saying… and that’s okay. We are all here —-> X … and we’ll deal. He has a job to do and his skills are sharp. The mama’s job is to sit with it, and to hope he and his colleagues will have the tools they need.

2:30pm. Kim will get back here by four and we’ll sit outside while the temp holds. We’ll chop vegetables for the steamer, we’ll have a couple of drinks, we’ll catch up on whatever we haven’t watched yet… we’ll say words and think thoughts… and it will be nighttime and we’ll shut it all out to await another day.

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SQ Diary… page 7

Self-Quarantine Day 11 – 03/23/2020

Time’s starting to compress ever so slightly while I’m wrung out and still coughing my head off, but Kim, my everyday hero, is in fine form, inspiring confidence and peace of mind. Today is his 69th birthday, same cheeky kid I married 15 years ago.

He walked over to the barbershop first thing, figuring he’d better jump before the bridge closed, and not a moment too soon. He waited with a few other guys, widely spaced, while Mr. Jon, the lone barber, worked his way down the line. Somebody’d stick a head in the door… “One barber, 2-hour wait.” Phone would ring… “One barber, 2-hour wait.” So that’s how Kimmers spent his birthday morning, and came home looking GOOD. Hope he’ll be up for cutting mine for me ’cause I didn’t make it over there before Shelby hung it up for the duration. Yikes!

Life slows to the pace of still water, and only certain things cause a ripple. Only the things that matter.

Self-Quarantine Day 12 – 03/24/2020

Some sunshine would be… good. One gray day after another, sometimes rainy, often just nondescript, isn’t proving to be an invigorating backdrop to what’s spooling out in our midst.

Still draggy and coughing but I’m not ready for the system to dump my old bones, so recovery is the only option here.

Talked with John – all of his meetings have been canceled but he goes back on shift Thursday. Into the lion’s den armed with sheer boldness and knowledge of the job at hand. Get back, virus, in the name of Science.

On the home front… might make the bed tomorrow.

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