Hello again. May 5th, 2020
So covering three weeks, the weather was mostly cold, often rainy, and I really liked it when we had the wood stove on. I’m afraid I got the braided rug caught out in the rain while airing it, and then had to dry it stretched over 2x4s on stacked blocks. It’s FINALLY dry again, and now we have to figure out how to get it up to Maine. I will say that while it was stretched between two boards, Pyewacket thought it made a wonderful hammock, and Willow is having hammock fantasies again.
This week the quince bush has bloomed, while the early daffodils and hyacinths are passed, some the forsythia are blooming, and some of the later bicolored daffodils and one very pretty red tulip with white edges.
The trees are beginning to bud out, and bugs are beginning to emerge (I may have swatted my first black fly last night). Since May Day the weather has been sunny and warm- even in the seventies the past couple of days, although today is chilly and grey again. (They say to expect snow on the weekend! I hope it doesn’t hurt the apple orchards!) I’m sulking about that. How quickly we become spoiled! John brought the screen door up, but we haven’t hung it yet. I’m not sure the weather has really decided that it’s spring. I did see some blooming trees when I went out last Friday.
I hate to say it but I haven’t actually done much for most of the month. I’ve read a lot and slept a lot. I think it’s my way of trying to turn the world off. I’m afraid I have the same problem in bed (one more chapter…) as I do on the internet (one more story…). In all honesty, that’s probably why I didn’t get to writing the letter. That and not having much to share.
My “big project” in April was making face masks. I figured we needed about a half dozen each, like underwear, so you can change them easily. (Seems appropriate to me that you have some in a bag and change them whenever you go into a new store. I guess we’ll need to have two bags, one for clean, one for dirty.) But I kept noticing another pretty pattern and making “just one” more of that…. When I realized I’d made over 40, I put the fat quarters away. I still need to add strings to most of the masks. Elastic is hard to find these days, satin ribbon is too slippery, (I want to try gross grain), and the “T shirt yarn” is Ok, but I’d rather have something better looking with the prettier designs of masks. ”
Lisa had a lot of starry fabrics, and a bunch with cats, and I liked the ones with unicorns and wizards, and love the one with the Egyptian designs- sadly I used that up. Willow got the pieces with comic book images. Sadly, although I’d been careful while laying them out, I seem to have cut several of the cat ones upside down! I thought I was being careful about it!
The other thing I’ve been doing is stress baking. Yup, it’s the baking, not eating. I eat some of it, but not much- for example I made a Coke cake last week and didn’t have any. For Beltane I made a Devils Food instead of the Black Magic cake I usually make, and the kids liked it fine. I tasted that to compare it to the BMC. I like the darker and less sweet version.
Sadly, we didn’t find the maypole we usually have coming up out of the middle. Since we didn’t have that, I didn’t bother cutting out figures of dancing people, and added some icing (an attempt to keep it moist). I did probably eat most of the puddled icing. I generally prefer frosting to cake. If it’s good frosting.
Another thing I played with was noodles. One night I made some boneless pork chops with mushrooms, and mushroom gravy, and made noodles to go with them. I can sometimes get organic elbows or spaghetti, but haven’t been able to find organic egg noodles, so they became an immediate candidate for making myself. Funny how memory works, when I look at these pictures I remember listening to Jurassic Park during the pasta making, and Babylon 5 during the cake making, and each mask fabric reminds me of scenes from B5 or M*A*S*H. It’s like looking at pictures from my notebooks and know what the teacher was saying when I drew them.
Another thing I did this week was oil all of my cutting boards and salad bowls. I hadn’t intended to, but I found that I had two open bottles of corn oil, and when I tried to consolidate them, didn’t quite get how much room was left in the bottom bottle, so oil went over the rolling board. Rather than just wipe it up and chuck it, I rubbed it into the wooden stuff. In theory one should use walnut oil, (unless there are allergies), because corn or olive is supposed to go rancid in the wood, but I’m not sure it doesn’t wear off or dry out before that anyway. They do look better oiled.
I’ve made pies (blueberry, and mushroom, and quiche), and cake and bread, and popovers, and I tried scones again. There was a post that said COVID-19 update, but when you clicked on it, it said just fooling, here’s a recipe for raspberry scones. So I tried it. They came out better than any I’ve tried before. The trick is that you keep the raspberries frozen until you spread them on the rolled out dough, then put the dough back in the freezer for a few minutes before baking. I’m not quite sure what that does other than keep the berry juice from sinking into the scones, but they were quite good. We made bread and butter sandwiches, and did a whole “tea” thing. (I then had to go back and watch the Importance of Being Ernest, and am thinking of making some English muffins so that we can eat them calmly, so as to avoid getting butter on our cuffs.)
I did go out shopping again on the first of May. My journal confirms that I’d last been out on the first of April. Very symmetrical. Even as I like cooking, I enjoy shopping for food. Other than that Willow would to to the dump and pick up milk, eggs, and other things we were out of. She’s good at only getting what’s on the list.
We try doing divination, but when we ask about COVID we keep coming up with a resounding “maybe”. Basically, seems like things are still up in the air. Too many people are still deciding what they are going to do, and that’s going to make so much difference. When you understand divination, you understand just how much ability to change our future we have, and how complex it is. (Boy, that poor mushroom cooliabkec looks plain. I usually decorate them more. It was good though.)
I feel a bit odd mentioning this, but as this letter is aimed at “what we’d talk about if we were just chatting over tea”, for the last week we’ve been waiting impatiently on the septic guys. The toilet wasn’t flushing, so we called the plumber. He said it was not the toilet but the septic tank, and told me that they usually should be pumped every 5 years, although he goes 7. I guess I didn’t absorb that like “regrout the windows every 10 years” because the house in Winchester was on the town line. I remember one Thanksgiving when the septic backed up into the basement. Anyway, the gentleman came by at 7:30 am (I’d have appreciated a hint at about the time they were going to come.) We’d been digging around trying to find the tank and failed (found a lot of rocks), but the professional found it. It was only a couple feet from a tree, but he says that while it should come down, there were no roots in it yet. Sadly, he thinks that the pipe from the house to the tank is blocked and needs clearing. Our plumber can’t do it (doesn’t have the right equipment), and I’m calling around to find whoever can that we can afford. Just pumping was nearly $300. Currently I’m glad that the sink and washer go to the drywall in the south, but since the shower goes to the septic in the north, we can’t shower until we get it fixed, or it will go into the root cellar. (Grump, growl) It’s a good thing we are good at camping. And coping.
Kat’s birthday is tomorrow. The girls were planning to go to a museum and tea room with Raye and Joannie, but we’re just going to have a tea party with cake and ice-cream here, and hope that they can try again when the museums open up. John and I ordered her stuff on line, but it won’t get here for a couple of months (Is it in quarantine?), so it’s good Willow found a new Sims expansion pack which comes directly into her computer.
When we were out we saw that there are a great variety of masks out there. I would say that a good majority of people wear them in the stores, and there’s a fun number of styles to be seen. When the gentleman came to pump our tank, he was wearing a mask. I didn’t, but we were outside and I was standing more than two meters away from him. Given the separation and that one of us was wearing a mask, I’m not sure that that counts as exposure. At the store I was masked, and getting gas, although I didn’t wear a mask in the car. I’ve put a sign up on the door reminding us to wash immediately when we come in (dump the masks in the laundry first). The toilet stress is more immediately attention-getting than the pandemic. I keep thinking that just because we’re having a pandemic, (which seems to be shutting down most of the shooting in Syria), there’s no reason to expect we’ll be spared the usual crises: hurricanes, wild fires, earthquakes, floods, etc. that also stress our emergency services. So far only the “Murder Hornet has emerged (as if the bees didn’t have enough with which to deal), but I’m expecting more.
If Trump continues to use his position to try to manipulate states into sucking up to him, he’s doing himself more harm than good. Clearly a lot of people are willing to believe the most amazing BS, but when their friends and family start dying around them, it’s going to stretch their ability to believe that it’s all a “democratic hoax”. Now that we’ve come to the “opening up” we are seeing the inevitable jump in hospital admissions. I am eager for him to get out of the picture, but I hate that he’s taking down so many mostly innocent people with him. I can’t find it in my heart to say that they’ve brought death on themselves by believing what an authority figure told them.
Since I often write about what I read, you may already know that I like reading books doctors read about trying to fix the system from the inside. I find diseases fascinating. From Epidemics and Society, I now know more about Typhus and Cholera than I ever really wanted to. (Actually, I was fascinated to hear that the dehydration from diarrhea wasn’t improperly digested food, but blood plasma. The toxin created by the bacteria causes the intestines to work backwards from their usual way of absorbing nutrients from food and passing it into the bloodstream, instead the plasma is sucked into the intestines and evacuated through the bowels. Of course, this makes the blood too thick in the veins and muscles, causing all the other symptoms of cholera, but that’s probably more than most people want to hear already.) Maybe it’s because we DON’T want to hear, most people don’t realize that once your sick relative (or you) gets turned over to the ICU folks, the serious cases are dealing with multiple catastrophic organ failures, blood clots, internal bleeding, as well as the respiratory stuff we know about because of the crisis in too few respirators.
My frame of reference (other than what I read) is remembering my time in ICUs with Ælfwine. It takes me back to when he was at the worst part of the Guillain Barré, when he couldn’t move, couldn’t cough the phlegm out of his lungs so they had to put a tiny vacuum in and suck it out of any bits they could reach. (This is not counting the time on the respirator.) They had to do just about everything for him. The advantage is, that with Guillain Barré, while it progressively gets worse, starting and fingers and toes, and ending with your internal organs, it then progressively recedes, and you can recover if they can keep you alive during the crisis days. I remember watching what happened when his kidneys shut down, and he changed color and swelled up, and the miracles of modern medicine pulled him through. The ICU people are there because they want these incredibly heroic methods to SAVE the patients. They hate it when it doesn’t. We’re still learning about this one, and have no idea what sort of long range side effects are going to stick with the survivors. My heart goes out to the patients, those who are trying so hard to save them, and their families, waiting without being able to be there. Luckily, cancer isn’t catching.
To be honest, I DO check the figures almost every day. I keep hoping for improvements, but in the last three weeks we’ve moved up from 3.3 million to 7.7 million tests. That’s only a million a week. At that rate we wouldn’t all be tested for three thousand weeks (58 years). Obviously we should get better. Someone will start making and distributing tests. One of the things that bugs me is that at this point since we only test the people we are pretty sure have Covid19, our death rate is 12% of confirmed cases. From other countries I think it should be more like 4%. It would be nice to have a better idea of how dangerous this is.
I try to learn as much as I can about what’s going on, but we are learning a lot all the time, and I can’t keep up. This week I read a post from Taz, an SCA friend who works in a hospital, He’s one of those they call when a patient comes in and needs to be intubated. He’s doing it about 6 times a day. Sounds like they do have PPEs at this point, which is good news. It would be nice to know that when he gets it, he’d have better chance of surviving than the current statistics indicate. I’m sure, sooner or later, most of us will get it, and get that our chances are better when we “flatten the curve” so more of us will have the advantages of a hospital that isn’t overburdened. I’m old and fat, but I hope that since I’m not on any prescriptions at this point, that that means I’m not quite as at risk as others my age and weight. I get so cross at Juliani mocking tracking “track heart attacks, obesity, cancer”, as if they were contagious. Is his ignorance level that profound, or is he trying to keep the audience ignorant? At one point while working on the letter I wrote that we’d just now passed a million cases in the US- even with only 500,688 tests (2%) so far. This basically means that there are probably so many more.
I had planned to talk more about what I’ve been reading, but I have a birthday cake to make in the morning, so I’ll leave you with this lovely term: “Ambivert”. I think that’s what I am. Not an extrovert, not an introvert, but I go both ways depending on the situation. Isn’t that most of us? What a pity we try to pigeon-hole people to try to make understanding them easier. Don’t worry about understanding. Accept. We are all complex. We are all jerks, we are all wonderful loving people, it depends on the circumstances.
Maybe I’ll get to it next week. Heck if you were actually here, we probably wouldn’t get a chance to say everything we’d like to. But I’d love to hear from you!
This week’s sig quote:
“Look at that thing, dude“ -from the cockpit videos released by the Pentagon on UFOs.
A funnier one you might not get is
“Elon Musk is the Tony Stark that you ordered from Wish”. Funny to me, but I follow both Marvel comics and know people who order from Wish (a company that imports knock-offs from China really cheaply, that are “good enough” just often enough that people keep ordering from them). I assume you have heard of Elon Musk.
Th May 7 Roast Leg of Lamb Day, Cosmopolitan (the cocktail) Day, Password Day
F May 8 Coconut Cream Pie Day, Give someone a Cupcake Day, Have a Coke Day
S May 9 Shrimp Day, Lost Sock Memorial Day, Mother Ocean Day, Windmill Day
S May 10 Mother’s Day, Liver and Onions, clean up your room, Trust your intuition Day
M May 11 “Eat What You Want” Day, Twilight Zone Day, Hostess Cupcake Day
T May 12 Nutty Fudge Day, CFDS/ Fibromialgia/ ME Day, Limerick Day, Odometer Day
W May 13 Apple Pie Day, Fruit Cocktail Day, Cocktail Day, Hummus Day, Tulip Day
Here’s another bit of trivia for you. I’ve long been surprised at holidays for fruits that were far out of season. Apparently it was the canners, trying to convince people to make Peach Melba in freaking January, that came up with that!
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”
Sir Athur Conan Doyle