Golden Rule Week!

Hi, Wednesday through Saturday, April 1st-4th, 2020
A lot of people are tracking how long (how many days, how many weeks) they’ve been in house. Since we don’t go out much anyway, I wouldn’t be quite sure how to start that. (Do they count the occasional trip out for supplies? We generally go out once a week for groceries and try to put the library run and any other errands in with it to save travel. Willow would pick up the milk, bread or anything else we needed that was fresh. I guess we could count since she stopped going to Keene, in which case I guess this is our second week. (Gas is now down to just under $2 a gallon around here.)
Far more concerning is the folks who let us know that they have symptoms. Sarah was actually diagnosed with Covid19 by her doctor (and sent home to see what happened- no tests available). She got pretty miserable but after about a week her symptoms started to recede. Another friend got what she thinks was a sinus infection and seems to be recovering. It’s a bitch that we don’t have the testing that would allow us to know. The most amusing bit in Sarah’s story was when she was out feeding her chickens in the early days, she started coughing. You know the sort of coughing that seems to turn you inside out? That kind. She threw up. I think it’s happened to many of us. In her case, her stupid Buff Orpington (chicken) would not be shooed away, so now she has done something few have done- thrown up on a chicken. She thinks she got it while working at the local store; lots of “summer people” are “holing up” in their vacation properties during the quarantine period.
Today * the tracking reported we’ve passed a million cases. Fine, but in absence of testing, what the heck does that mean?! Tracking also tells us that 200K have “recovered” from Covid19, and 48K have died. To me that looks like we get four recovery per death, which is a bad balance; and if that were true, I think we’d have heard about it. So I don’t think we are actually tracking the recoveries properly. We are almost certainly not tracking the deaths properly either. Are they including the “deaths from complications” we hear so much about? The person who dies from pneumonia they got because they had the virus? I am no really able to find how long it’s supposed to last, although I recently read that people can expect two peaks (or one relapse) from it.
If there have been a million cases, minus the deaths and recoveries, that would mean 752 thousand cases are still ongoing. But I guess you can’t report a recovery if you haven’t seen the patient, which mostly the ones I hear about haven’t, because we have no treatment really except for the critical cases, so they simply send them home, to isolate as if it were and hope that it isn’t. Equally, we really have no idea how many cases there are since we AREN’T TESTING! I am not surprised that we are behind giving the denial at upper levels, but I would have thought that we’d have started by now.
I finally have found an article that says that those who go on ventilators use them for two or three weeks, as opposed to the two or three days that is the average amount of time someone is on breathing support in a hospital. (BTW, that means, oh “fearless leader”, that we need about seven times as many respirators as hospitals may have been estimating! So stop hoarding them and get what we have out there to the hospitals helping people!) Testing only the (10%) of people who are critical gives lousy information. Since over the next year or so, most of us are going to get this novel virus, I think we want to know what the first symptoms are, what to do then, and what to expect. How long is it going to last? (10 days after onset of symptoms takes you to 3 days fever free.) What are the best ways to increase your at-home bodies defenses? (Heat? Humidity? Vitamins, zinc? Ibuprophen or not?) At what symptom do you go to the doctor (“I’m afraid I’m dying”?)? Yes, I know, call first and get an appointment to be tested, don’t show up unannounced if you might have it. But what’s the percentage of people who get sick who end up on the ventilators for 3 weeks? Seems that would give us an idea of how many ventilators we need to build. (How many people need crash courses in how to use them, how much of the drugs we need to keep people who are on them comfortable. We may not have exceeded our ventilator capacity yet, but some hospitals don’t have the medications that keep the patient from lying there in pain and terrified with a tube down their throat. Alone.)  Please, when I get it, (because sooner or later we all will) let me have it at home, where I don’t have to get permission to go to the bathroom, and am not exposed to all the nasty bacteria in a hospital. Let us keep the curve down so that the doctors who don’t die of it don’t have to carry the guilt of the ones they couldn’t save but feel that they should have with them for the rest of their lives. During this month while the plants are being built, I hope we can keep isolated enough so that we don’t see people watching their loved ones die at home because there was no bed for them in the hospital. I’ve “been there, done that”. When Ælfwine spiked a fever during a transfusion and his BP dropped to 60/40, they started shuffling patients to find a bed for him and it took over 10 hours. With no pandemic. Because they try to build hospitals for the number of beds they expect to use because they are expensive. I hope people who live alone don’t die alone because no one checked and discovered that they’d taken a turn for the worse until it was too late. This is what, as a thinking person who reads books on history and medicine for fun understands, although I have had blessedly little personal experience in hospitals. This is what, I fear, most Americans never even consider. I think of Steve (Morgan, my nephew-in-law) going to the emergency room, being given liquids and sent home, who ended up dying the next day because the doctors there didn’t think he was as sick as he felt he was and it was the weekend.
The thing I know is that doctors (and nurses) are people too. They’ve learned as much as they can, as much as they think they need for what they’ll have to deal with, and then learn more when they encounter a new challenge. (Just like the rest of us- except the health of the rest of us is what they have chosen to do as a way to spend their lives.) They know stuff we don’t know, although we know our own bodies better. They don’t know some stuff others doctors know, and although they try not to let the rest of us know because it would make most us feel they weren’t all-powerful, they disagree among themselves. Not on everything, but mostly according to what they’ve seen during their practices. I really don’t think that most people in America realize this. Clearly Trump doesn’t know how medicine and those who work with it works. NO idea why PPEs are being used up during a pandemic at a rate far greater than he can imagine! I know the hospital folks are at risk, and tired, and frustrated. One of the things wrong with our medical system is that we as a culture, have turned over our health to doctors and want them to simply “fix this problem”, whether it’s a broken leg or a cytokine storm, the way we’d take our car to the garage if it was “handling funny”. We expect them to know what it is and fix it. Would you go to a baker with a cake that had fallen in your oven and ask them to “fix it”? Would you make a dress, then ask a seamstress to “fix it”? We are NOT being reasonable,
I can understand that bacteria and virus have various effects in different situations. I heard that my uncle, Charlie, once caught something that Amanda had apparently brought back from abroad, and the doctor only thought to check for it because he knew them well enough to know she’d traveled there. As they described it, a quarter of those who get it have no symptoms, like Amanda, another quarter experience it like a cold, another quarter get desperately ill, as Charlie did, and the last quarter die. At this point they are saying 80% will need no medical care, 10% will need to be hospitalized, and 10% of those (1%?) will need to be on ventilators
There’s also the effect of people who aren’t getting treatments because anything not required is being put off. That includes Kat and I who had Dental appointments on the first, and I personally was REALLY hoping for something that would stop the toothache. When I was off the mountain yesterday I texted my dentist at Tufts and asked him about it. He said can get it seen as a walk-in down in Boston in the Tufts Emergency clinic. I am NOT eager to go into a public facility in a city, and asked what would happen if I could get my local dentist to help. He told me he doesn’t THINK I’d be tossed out of the program if he did that. Given that I can barely afford Tufts, and have already gone through the YEAR of having them check my gums and do all the prep work they like, I don’t want to get kicked out of the program before they can actually fix anything! So that’s my personal take on people putting off medical care while we get the curve under control.
OK, I guess I’ve just been sharing the sort of thing I’d be saying if we were chatting and you didn’t have the ability to change the subject. I have to remind myself that having a live person does make me stop occasionally.
I usually start with what the weather has been doing, and I’ll say that March went out like a lion. We only had snow one day last week, but it’s been cloudy and bitchy cold. We had one really loud thunderstorm over the weekend. We’ve kept the wood stove going, and will have to think about getting more wood before next winter. It’s nice to have the wood stove again. I am now thinking in terms of can’t we get at least a few chickens, and maybe a couple rabbits? A goat would be nice, but I have to say that I don’t miss the twice daily milking.

We still have a few crocus and the daffodils and hyacinths are getting ready to bloom. I have a greater appreciation of the early spring mood lifting plants than I used to. I still prefer herbs that have medicinal value, but there’s something inspiring about a flower that comes up through the snow.

Let me try to think of what we’ve actually DONE this week. As with many, it’s “not much”. I do post the holidays on the Facebook page Holidays that Might Get Overlooked. Sadly, sometimes there’s a cluster of holidays on a given weekday between the ones on the day of the month,  and the lunar position…. I’m also not particularly good saying “we don’t need to post about that one”, since, after all, those are the ones that :might get overlooked”. I am less interested in the “awareness days” than religious and cultural holidays, but when I read about them I get sucked in. That’s what awareness days are about. The same thing happens with anniversaries of when certain events happened, or something now a part of our lives was introduced, from phones to Crackerjacks. With all of history to draw on, there’s always something interesting that happened on any given day. If there’s a food, there’s always someone for whom it’s a favorite- or could be if they tried it. So yesterday there were about 30 holidays! On the average day there are only about a dozen.
So that’s one thing I do. I try to make sure we eat at least one solid meal together, and I do the dishes, and most of the little cleaning that gets done. I’m afraid I spend far too much time reading (in bed) and on the internet. I’m afraid I’m easily drawn into “one more chapter” or “one more story”.  I will plead guilty to ’stress baking’. Cookies, cake, beignets. I’m sure it doesn’t help that I’m reading a series about a baker. I don’t think that the writer knows any more about baking than she does about psychic phenomena, the baker has one assistant to help with the baking and sales, and in theory always has brownies, croissants, cupcakes, donuts, cakes, pies, and assorted cookies (not to mention the not infrequent wedding cake). Also she’s always running off to investigate murders with her cop boyfriend. It would take at least three or four bakers to keep the shelves filled, even in a small town, it makes me cross, I know how much work that would take  She says she gets up at 3 to start baking before they open, but how much can one person do in three hours? When does she sleep? Since it’s a romance series, she goes out on dates most nights; I don’t think she’s in bed by nine! (I need nine hours of sleep!) Sadly, the author writes about the treats effusively which makes me want to make them.
Normal cleaning isn’t worth mentioning, but I did get to fishing into the back of the refrigerator and pulling out the Tupperware with mystery contents, and I have to brag/ whine about that. In theory we jot down what goes in on the door so we don’t forget it, but we aren’t good at it. Personally, I think refrigerators should be wider and less deep. They make them as deep as other appliances and counters, but frankly, I don’t things should get more than three deep. Once something is behind two cartons of yogurt or a jar of salsa, it’s gone. Last year I did that and found 3 open maple syrups. Mostly it’s just leftovers of which we’ve lost track. Sadly that is a multi step process (possibly because our refrigerator is in another room), and then we have to take the contents out to the compost, and then disinfect the containers. I really prefer the glass ones because I know those don’t absorb anything so clean better!
Friday I took a video class on herbalism with Sean Donahue. Sadly, while interesting, it was an introduction to the full course he offers which I can’t afford, so it was a bit frustrating.  That was the day I got a splinter stoking the wood stove. I thought I’d gotten it all out, but a week later it’s still uncomfortable and I think there’s a bit still in there. When I’m done typing, I’m planning on getting an exact knife and excavating for it. It’s beginning to interfere with my being able to have a tight pinch.
 Saturday we observed Earth Hour- those who do turn off their lights for an hour 8:30 – 9:30 pm local time, to see if we can make a detectable difference in the light pollution. I think everyone in our house just looked at their kindles for that hour. I’m not sure that’s the point. Sunday I saw Merkles amazing address to Germany. Oh, how I wish our leader was like her. I have decided the expecting anything positive from Trump is like “trying to teach a pig to sing”. (It wastes your time and annoys the pig.) We also had an impressive thunderstorm, and I did a milk run. (I’ve been thinking about that expression, I think it referred to the milkmen delivering milk in early hours- uneventful, as when they started using it, I think most people had their milk come to the door, as opposed to going out after it.) Monday, Willow decided to amuse herself by putting on makeup and it got in her eyes. I went through the jars of herbs over the drawing desk, threw unidentifiable ones out, and washed the jars. I expect that’s the sort of thing people are doing all over the country these days. Liz called me on Tuesday to commiserate, as it’s the anniversary of Mother’s death. Also we had some snow. That’s pretty much our exciting week. Willow went to the dump today.
 April first came with the Social Security checks, and I ran out to do the weekly errands. Most important was going to Costco to pick up three months worth of meds for the girls, but it had been a while, so there were also groceries. As long as we were going to Nashua, I took a dozen of the chocolate chip cookies I made to Mark, carefully not touching things, like the railing on his apartment stair (I used a handkerchief and put it in the wash immediately). Kat already has a wardrobe of fashionable facemasks, although I think we’ll probably make more because we can. I am taking Vicki’s idea of putting changeable liners in to wash. (I love her letters- they’re currently in Czechia where going without a mask will get one a hefty fine, and she mentioned some folks at a nude beach getting caught with nothing on. I guess they figured that with proper distancing, if everything else was off, why not everything? Costly mistake for them.)
We went to the library. I’d intended to take a picture of their bell- last time I went there was a string that ran from outside to the inner doors and had a bell on it, so they’d bring your books out. Sadly, it’s been replaced with a step on button to ring a bell for them. Earthward, where I also stopped to look for herbs, also has curb pickup, but you’re supposed to call them with your mobile, and that didn’t work for me. I went because Willow has been fagged out, but by the time we got home, I was wiped out myself. John and Kat had to put away the stuff we’d gotten.  Except the Lily. Since Willow has no cat in her bedroom this year, I picked up the first Easter Lily she’s had in several years.  She likes them. Costco had no hyacinth this year, but ours are coming up now.
Not only can you not bring your own bags in, You can’t bring carts in from the parking area yourself, each cart gets disinfected between customers. Market Basket is doing that too. All the stores now have line on the floor to show us how far apart to stand. Frankly, one cart plus one human body is about 6 feet. The various displays that we used to have to dodge around in the aisles are gone- now mostly set between the lines leading to the cash registers to create corridors to the check out. At Shows they have plastic shields between the customer and cashier. At Market Basket they have given them gloves, but no masks. I did see a notice that they are starting limiting the number of people in the store at a time, as we saw at Costco last time we went. Willow says the manager who was regulating the number of people in the store was also reminding people not to yell at the poor teenagers stocking the shelves. It’s sad that that needs mentioning.
What else? The girls had their appointments with the psychiatrist/ therapist by phone.
Always an information addict, I read as many articles as I can, and watch enough  Trevor Noah, Rachel Maddow, John Oliver, Seth Meyers, and Jimmy Kimmel to make John nuts. The girls are mostly in their rooms, but John and I are downstairs, so we hear each other’s audio. I’ve quite enjoyed the B movie adventures he has been watching:  Congothe CoreRelicWar of the WorldsWhen Worlds Collide,… He has to hear when I watch M*A*S*H (season 2 now), and I also watched Frozen II. (Usually I watch when cooking and washing dishes). I was very pleasantly surprised by the Frozen movie, although I shouldn’t have been. Disney is pretty good. The themes of this one reflect modern sensibilities. While it does follow Christof trying to get up the nerve to propose to Anna, the love that motivates the story is still the platonic love of the sisters and the horridly silly snowman. Ilsa discovered that the one she has been searching for is herself. They have to deal with learning that their grandfather was the bad guy and it’s up to them to try to make reparations for what he did. That’s our generation’s issues all over!
What I’ve enjoyed most this week has been catching the filks/ parodies people are doing of songs to mostly show-tunes that are a lot of fun. Here are a few (from Youtube): Do Re Mi – Covid 19 versionCorona Virus Rhapsody from Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Coronavirus Lament (Randy Rainbow, from a  Guys and Dolls song), Social Distance (from Disney’s Hercules), Hello (from the Inside) from the Adele song, and maybe my favorite although I really love the Queen take-off): One Day More (from Les Misérables) by a family in England who can sing. I thought everyone could sing like that, but apparently not. I hope if you are looking for something interesting to watch you enjoy those. Do share any good things you’ve found with me!
Another wonderful parody was from our friend Ruadh Cruidh MacFrode, who always posts some photoshopped comic/ joke every Monday. This monday was a take-off of that spoof book Go the F**k to Sleep. That was a brilliant book, making fun of children’s books. Apparently that author and Samuel Jackson  collaborated on another one called Stay the F**k at Home  but frankly, it wasn’t as good as Ruadh’s, which was very similar to a kids book. One page was “The windows are lit in the town now, the beach wears a blanket of foam, You can read all the books that you want if You’ll stay the Fuck at Home!” I don’t know if that link will take you to the comic, but if we’re lucky it will. Anyway, I loved it. And since I’m sharing, Kat shared this lovely one with me: What A WW2 Booklet Taught Me About Living in Lockdown, and one where that historical costumer makes a 17th c cap and fichu from toilet paper, since it is suddenly a symbol of wealth.
Kat’s also working on a new Role Playing Game, since that’s a way to have social interaction on line. It’s in the Dr. Who universe. I’m jealous, but even if that was one of my genres, I have other things I’d like to get to, (like make some face masks in a style I’d like.
I have been staying up far too late, reading. I think the late night “one more chapter” is probably related to my “oh this looks interesting” on Facebook. My curiosity is very much at odds with finishing things (like this letter!)
Another thing I’ve done is started 3 gallons of Four Thieves vinegar. *If* things are getting back to public activity and Pennsic happens, it would be popular. We have to find money to get the bottles for it. It’s often sold in 4 oz. bottles for about $10. We’re thinking 12 or 16 oz. bottles. The less one is spending on bottle, the better the bargain. It’s a magical antibacterial, antiviral (I’m making no claims about it killing this one) vinegar with herbs. It’s also a delicious salad dressing! Kat couldn’t come down into the kitchen while I had the carboy open.
  Well, I will send this off. Mostly I’m just going “stream of consciousness”. I hope you found it more interesting than tedious.
One last story. In case you hadn’t encountered it, there are “polls” on the internet I keep encountering asking about how we like Trump. They actually are requests for donations, But even the polls are so biased one can’t help laughing. One is asked to pick between
“President Trump, Crazy Bernie Sanders, and Sleepy Joe Biden”   I kid you not, that’s the descriptions beside the buttons on the polls! Anyone who doesn’t immediately object to such incredibly biased descriptions is obviously a Trump supporter. That they don’t see anything odd or wrong with that, tells us more than an honest poll would do. This is why I don’t think must of most polls. When they said last month that the majority of Americans approved of how Trump was handling the epidemic. Looking into it I discovered that this was 53%. Moreover, that 53% included all those who said they liked his handling of it a lot, liked his handling a little, and liked some of the things he’d done. What this means is that 47% of the country thought he’d bolluxed it up totally, whereas they threw people who were willing to accept that he didn’t do everything wrong with the ones who approved. I remember my Freshman textbook “How to Lie with Statistics”. I’m sure most people would assume that the poll was indicating that a lot more people approved of him than really do. Who goes into that sort of business anyway?
Well, so long for now. Stay well. Wash you hands. Check on your friends.
Oh, and it there’s any chance I haven’t got your address and phone number, I’d love to have it. Internet is wonderful, but I like having the ability to actually send a card or letter. (Although I haven’t gotten to that either). Tell you what, if you send my your physical address, I’ll send you a card!

Virginia Tchipakkan

Upcoming holidays- this time pointing out the ones that are attached to a certain weekday
þ 2 Peanutbutter & Jelly Day, Ferret Day, Children’s Book Day, Fact Checking Day, Burrito Day (1st Thurs),
F 3 Chocolate Mousse Day, Tweed Day, World Party Day, Don’t go to Work unless it’s Fun Day, Walk to Work Day (1st Fri)
S 4 Cordon Bleu Day, Carrot Day, Hand Made/ DIY Day,Slow Art Day, Vit C Day, Rat Day, Tangible Karma Day (1st Sat), (Firewalk Day, and International Pillow Fight Day is the 1st Saturday too, but are cancelled by COVID.)
⨀ 5 Caramel Day. Deep Dish Pizza Day, Raisin & Spice Bar Day, Flash Drive Day, Dandelion Day, Geologists Day (1st Sun)
M 6 Caramel Popcorn Day, Carbonara Day,Hostess Twinkie Day,Tartan Day, Plan your Epitaph Day, Tater Day, & Fun Day (1st Mon)
T 7 Beer Day, Coffee Cake Day, Beaver Day, Handmade Day, No Housework Day, Sexual Assault Awareness Day (1st Tues)
W 8 Empanada Day, Draw A Bird Day, Buddha Day, Passover, Feng Shui Awareness Day, Dog Farting Awareness Day, Draw a Picture of a Bird Day, Day of Pink (2nd Wed)
Þ 9 Chinese Almond Cookie Day, Gin & Tonic Day, Unicorn Day, Name Yourself Day, Alcohol Screening Day (Thurs of first full week)
F 10 Cinnamon Crescent Day, Siblings Day, Safety Pin Day, Work from Home Day, World Marbles Day (always Good Friday)
S 11 Cheese Fondue Day, Poutine Day, Pet Day, Submarine Day, Slow Art Day (2nd Saturday)
⨀  12 Grilled Cheese Sandwich DayLicorice Day, Wear a Star Day (those who have lost a child), Drop Everything and Read Day,  Baked Ham w/Pineapple Day  (1st Sunday after 1st full moon after Spring Equinox)
M 13 Peach Cobbler Day, Scrabble Day, Make Lunch Count Day, Dyngus Day (Mon after Easter)
T 14 Pecan Day, Dolphin Day, Perfume Day, Moment of Laughter Day, Be Kind to Lawyers Day (2nd Tuesday)