One of those pandemic days

This day started off pretty well — among other things, added 20 minutes to my yearly hoop-dancing total — and then Zippy and I went out to deliver food boxes to people via Rocky Mountain Mutual Aid Network. And I think that’s where the day began to feel not-so-good, when we were out and about, and saw that the vast majority of people were unmasked in indoor spaces. It wasn’t news: this is how it’s been for months and months. For some reason, it hit me harder today. How can we as a society normalize mass death and disability? How can we sacrifice our health for “freedom”? What will we do when our healthcare system collapses beneath the weight of our selfishness?emot

Anyway, here’s a pretty flower.

Wild aster. July 13, 2022

Wishing you and yours a safe and healthy weekend.

Gratitude

This morning started out rough as the weight of all we’re enduring hit me. Sometimes I wish I could live in a happy state of denial (“the pandemic is over and X, Y, Z aren’t happening, either!”), and eagerly greet each new day. Alas, I’m not wired that way.

The good news is, I’m feeling better now.
The birds are singing and the sun is shining.
Gratitude!

Backyard. August 4, 2022

And I’m forever grateful that sunflowers exist.

My reign as Domestic Goddess

I am incredibly grateful for the domestic gifts Zippy bestows upon me. Namely, handling all the cooking and grocery shopping. Yes, you read that correctly. I don’t have to cook or shop. Except when it’s absolutely necessary, such as when Zippy has Covid. (Note: he is feeling better although still testing positive).

He first tested positive a week ago tomorrow and hasn’t had much of an appetite. Lucky for both of us. Him, because that meant he wasn’t subjected to my lack of cooking skills and me, because I wasn’t forced to exhibit my low-level kitchen intelligence. Zippy tolerated my quinoa and steamed broccoli (that I daringly “spiced up” with some snap peas and cut green beans) and the minimalist spinach “salads” garnished with halved cherry tomatoes and a splash of balsamic dressing. I skated by until last night.

It all started because I’d noticed a head of kale in the drawer.

Image by azboomer from Pixabay

I worried it was getting a bit droopy and asked what I could make with the kale before it went bad. Zippy replied, “Lots of things” in a tone that implied those many “things” were most definitely beyond my reach. “Like what?” I pressed. “Like “kale and potatoes,” he replied. “I can do that!” I proclaimed.

And Reader, I’m pleased to announce I did do just that. I successfully prepared a meal.  All it required was for Zippy to stay on speakerphone through the entire preparation. Halfway through the conversation when I apologized for being so inept that he had to talk me through the process as if I was defusing a bomb, he admitted our cooking conversation was the most exciting part of his day. Sad commentary on a week spent isolating in the basement. But for me, the excitement I derived from the experience was the fact that (with Zippy’s guidance) I didn’t botch the timing on everything as I have in the past when attempting to create something in the kitchen. I successfully timed:

  • the cooking of the kale
  • the browning of the onions, kale stems, and sprig of rosemary
  • the boiling of the potatoes
  • the adding-in of the kale
  • the final combining and cooking of all ingredients

Okay, that last step took too long and the kale still came out a bit undercooked/chewy. Other than that, I killed it!

But wait, there’s more! Today I went grocery shopping, at two different stores. Not only that, I’ve already returned home and put away the groceries . . . and it’s still daylight! So what if Zippy could have accomplished the same amount of shopping in a fraction of the time it took me? So what if I had to call him from the first store to help me locate the sliced sourdough bread? At the next store, I figured out all on my own where the salad dressing was shelved and confirmed there were no avocados. And is ketchup really necessary?

So, yeah. This past week has been a stark reminder of my very privileged life in which groceries and meals magically occur. For many, many reasons, Zippy and I are both looking forward to a full recovery and him resuming his reign.

Thankful, mostly

After staying safe and healthy for the past 2-plus years, Zippy has Covid and is quarantining in our home. I’ve done two rapid tests that came back negative and this morning felt good enough to do a 4-mile run. That’s very good news. The other very good news is Zippy no longer has a fever (his temperature was 101 on Tuesday when he tested positive). The bad news is I am very much aware that a “mild” case of Covid can cause long-term health issues and am trying hard not to think about the possibility of Long Covid.

Which is why I was exceedingly grateful to be able to run today. It was my first run since the BolderBoulder and I ran up our street to the trailhead, eager to be in my happy place again. About fifteen feet in, there was a broken robin’s eggshell in the middle of the trail. No sign of a nest or baby robins, but that bright blue shell was my first bird-related sighting. A few minutes later, four magpies few over head as another flapped-flapped-flapped to catch up. Farther along the trail, Spotted Towhees sang “sweet-sweet-teeaaaaa.” Later, a Western Meadowlark sang from its perch on a rabbitbrush. Absolute bliss.

But that wasn’t all: a bunny ran across the trail right in front of me! Insects chirped! Several other runners and hikers passed with dogs happy to be out on adventures! A good day to be alive.

There was some sadness, though. For the past couple months, I’ve checked a little round cactus at the turnaround spot, hoping to see signs of life. Hoping it was only temporarily dormant. Today I had to face reality and admit it will never bloom again. Fortunately, Zippy photographed it for me years ago so I have documentation of it in all its prickly and pink glory. Here it is again:

Thank you for the joy you brought me over the years, little cactus. You won’t be forgotten.

Twofer Tuesday: House Finch edition

These finches (look closely, there are two) offer a good representation for my current emotional and mental state.

January 1, 2022

Sometimes my feelings are bright, cheery, and upbeat–as they were yesterday while walking in the sunshine with Emma Jean-Jean–and other times my emotions feel more drab and less hopeful, as this morning when tears overwhelmed me during my first yoga session in a while.

The good news is that nature always provides. During that same yoga session, feeders outside the window were visited by a flock of twenty or so wee Bushtits, reminding me of the power of community. Bushtits stick together, chipping and twittering as they forage in a tree and move on to another.

We’re not alone in this difficult reality and I’m grateful for my communities, including this one here.

Sunday Confessional: negative mood

More than four days after taking the saliva test, COVIDCheck Colorado let me know my test results came back negative. Great news! Unfortunately, I feel worse today than yesterday when I was actually able to take a walk around the neighborhood without collapsing in a heap afterward (which is what happened the day before).

Image by Ronald Plett from Pixabay

I’m sure it’s stress-related. What’s being done to healthcare workers, children, teachers and all school employees, service workers, etc. in the name of capitalism is horrifying and rage-inducing. Like watching a slow-motion train wreck.

Looking forward to regaining my energy so I can run some of these feelings out of my system. Please take care of yourselves and know you aren’t alone. Solidarity!

Mood

Pretty sure I have Covid right now (while being the most introverted version of my introverted self during this pandemic).

Pretty sure Wildebeest has Covid (while working for starvation wages in the restaurant industry that prioritizes people’s “rights” to dine inside, maskless, while the poor/desperate workers drop like flies).

Positive that Zebu had Covid a couple weeks ago.

Absolutely, positive we should (at minimum) be receiving monthly checks along with a package of N95 masks and testing kits from our government. Not to mention, Biden should issue a patent waiver on vaccines to help the rest of the world’s population.

Equally positive none of that’s gonna happen. We the people are expendable in this equation.

Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

Few clever enough

If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows. ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Photo by Zippy. November 22, 2021

Unfortunately, that also goes for many women. I don’t see crows mucking up things and then gaslighting everyone into thinking stuff’s just dandy. That’s purely the province of rich and powerful men/women.

Sunday Confessional: I wanted to shove a woman in a ditch

I went for a run on the trails this morning and, as is my routine, wore a bandana around my neck. Whenever I see someone coming my direction, I stop to pull it over my nose and mouth. I do this because running makes me breathe more heavily and I want to minimize the possibility of me infecting someone if I somehow have Covid (and am asymptomatic). Because this was a Sunday, I encountered a greater number of people on the trails (walkers, runners, and one mountain biker). I was the only one masked, but that was fine, and each encounter was friendly. (Okay, the mountain biker reactivated my animus by being an entitled trail-hog.)

Near the end of the run, I saw a person coming toward me. I stopped, masked, moved over to the right, and started running again. When I got closer I realized it was a woman who lives on my street, and I waved hello. Her reply?

She scoffed and yelled, “I’m triple vaccinated!”

As I continued running, I said some bad things out loud to myself. Mostly WTF and what kind of monster shames mask-wearers during a freaking global pandemic and then some stuff about that woman’s intelligence level plus a few choice words about our useless government and how this pandemic is only going to get worse. Whew. Then I reminded myself I was running on narrow, uneven trails with lots of rocks sticking up and that it would truly suck to trip, fall, and add to my collection of scars. So I began chanting my trail-running mantra:

Feet on the ground. Feet on the ground. Feet on the ground.

Image by yellowcat from Pixabay

It worked. I let go of the emotions and made it home without injury. And in writing this out, I just realized that mantra is probably a good all-around reminder to help me stay in the moment during these difficult days.

Feet on the ground.

Hairy situation

Like many others, I cut my own hair over the past year. I watched YouTube videos and gave it my best shot with results that were completely acceptable for quarantine purposes. But as my hair grew out from the last cut, it began to look more and more as if I’d sawed it off with a dull knife. So I reached out to the stylist I’d been seeing for years.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

In my text, I let her know my family and I were fully vaccinated and asked if she was now taking appointments. She replied, “I’ve been working all this time.” She went on to say that she no longer worked at the salon but was traveling to people’s homes or having them come to her home.

That response raised several red flags. But after taking another look at my hacked hair, I sent a text saying I’d be happy to have her come to my home. I also said that if she wasn’t vaccinated, I’d want us to both wear masks. Hours passed before she replied with an available appointment date/time. Nothing else. With great trepidation, I accepted the appointment for last Friday.

Three days later, I’m still gobsmacked by her attitude. She wore a mask . . . under her nose. When I greeted her and asked how she was doing she replied, “I’m fine” in a tone that suggested this whole silly global pandemic thing had been blown way out of proportion. Ugh. But I was committed, so we went out onto the patio to get started. And as she trimmed/cleaned up my bad cuts, I asked why she was no longer at the salon. She replied, “After COVID, I couldn’t go back.”

My immediate thought was, “You’ve got this all wrong, Tracy! She just didn’t want to be in an unsafe working environment which makes total sense.”

Then she went on to say, “I couldn’t take all the rules and regulations.”

Say what?! All I could think (as this woman wielded sharp scissors around my head) was that she was incredibly selfish. I mean, we’re up to nearly 600k dead people in the U.S. alone and her biggest issue was the rules and regulations?!

Did I say any of that to her? No. Do I regret not speaking up? Kinda, sorta. While people like that need to be called out, I don’t believe my words would make one bit of difference. Also? Sharp scissors.

I won’t be utilizing her services anymore. But the one good thing that came of our appointment was her response to the sight of my older-woman long hair: “So you’re not doing short hair anymore?” That comment got me to take a long, hard look at my appearance and I’ve decided I’m going back to short hair. I have an appointment for Wednesday at a new-to-me salon that enforces a whole bunch of COVID rules and regulations. I can’t wait.

Nature’s timeline

I took this photo a year ago today. As I recall, it was a balmy day filled with bird songs and busy bees.  We were in the early days of the pandemic and communing with backyard nature was balm for my soul.

April 27, 2020

Today, plenty of birds are singing on this cool and rainy day. However, the shrub in the photo is behind last year’s schedule –buds still folded up tight –and I’ve yet to see a bee in the yard. We’re still experiencing a global pandemic, but the blooms and bees are on their way. And when they arrive, I’ll be out there again, drinking in all their glory.

Dose 1: mixed feelings

This morning I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. While I felt gratitude and relief to be halfway to fully vaccinated, I also felt anger, disgust, and shame. As with everything else in our system that puts profits over people (and planet), the Covid vaccine distribution is unequal. I’ve already blogged about some of the ways access is inequitable here in the U.S. (not to mention incarcerated people’s lack of access), but the situation is even more dire around the world.

Image by Mary Pahlke from Pixabay

The global death toll is currently at 2.77 million. Human decency would dictate that vaccines and vaccine patents be freely shared.  Nope. Big Pharma isn’t satisfied with the billions they make each year. They’re lobbying the Biden administration to clamp down on countries trying to increase production. Read this article and weep. And rage.

As the needle pierced my skin this morning, I thought about this excerpt from that article:

Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, mocked proposals for sharing intellectual property as “nonsense” and “dangerous” at an industry forum last year. The vaccines are netting drug companies $21 billion this year alone, according to one estimate by Bernstein Research. 

There you have it: Big Pharma scoffing at the the World Health Organization (WHO). Silly WHO, thinking people’s lives matter more than intellectual property.

So yeah, not totally thrilled to get that Pfizer shot in the arm.

Healthcare, schmealthcare rant

As of yesterday, I am eligible in Colorado for a covid vaccine. As of this moment, I’m about to pull out all my hair.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Off and on today, I checked the various sites for vaccine alerts and availability. Every single time, the listings for available appointments were always false. I’d click on the link and get variations of “There are no more appointments at this site.” But just now, I was actually allowed to select a date and time for an appointment and I thought, “This is it!” I made it through the entire process, answering all the questions about allergies, health condition, etc., and then it came time to confirm my appointment. Confirmation? Yeah, right. I got “We’re all out of vaccine.”

I’m very fortunate to be able to commit time to trying to make an appointment. I don’t have an outside job. I have access to a working computer and the internet. If it’s this hard for me to find an appointment, how in the hell are people without my circumstances supposed to get vaccinated?

They’ve had a year to get their acts together on the vaccine roll-out. But the government’s number one priority during this pandemic has been to protect capitalism at the expense of the people, so this vaccine mess shouldn’t be a shocker. I mean, they’re denying us Medicare for All during a freaking pandemic that’s killed 541,000 people so far. People are being evicted and unhoused people living in tents are being harassed by police, all during a freaking pandemic. Our well-being is clearly not the priority.

Still, I can’t help but be appalled how this pandemic has proven (again) that here in the United States, the world’s most expensive health care “system” is the least effective. More than half a million people dead . . . and counting.

Thankful Thursday: Clear Creek edition

This morning I met my pal Laura Perdew  in Golden where we walked the paths next to Clear Creek. It was sunny, but cold and windy. After we adjusted, though, it was absolutely beautiful. We walked and talked. Walked and took in our surroundings. Laura spotted a duck on the water, a species neither of us recognized, and I lamented that I’d forgotten my camera. Later on, we circled back to where we’d started from and there was the duck again. These photos were all taken with my phone. I had on my prescription sunglasses that are polarized and couldn’t really see anything. Basically, I held up my phone and optimistically clicked away.

   

The above image on the left shows two mallards on the ice while the duck we didn’t recognize paddled about. (We later identified that paddler as a hybrid Common/Barrow’s Goldeneye, a perfectly stunning specimen). The Goldeneye is also in that photo on the right which was captured as I blindly clicked away.

These ice photos were taken from where I sat on a boulder in the sunshine, so very happy to be out in the natural world. I swear I could spend hours looking at ice formations.

     

It was a glorious morning and I’m going back there soon with my camera. Clear Creek is balm for my soul.

(Note: Right before waking this morning, I dreamt I was out in public and realized I’d forgotten to wear my mask. As I fumbled to put it on, I realized the throngs of people around me were all mask-less. I called through mine in a panic: “Where are your masks?” I was ignored. Fortunately, I’m pleased to report my real life experience was totally different and probably 95% of the people I saw today wore masks.)

Gaining daylight!

Yesterday was the winter solstice which means it was the shortest day of the year. As of today, we’re gaining daylight. I know I’m not alone in welcoming that boost to our collective morale. When I called out a “Happy Solstice” to a neighborhood friend today, he tilted his face to the sun and pumped his arms.

I went in search of an appropriate quotation for this post and decided upon the following which, in light of the president-elect’s role in inflicting austerity on the masses via the latest covid “relief” legislation, feels very spot-on:

We must not fear daylight just because it almost always illuminates a miserable world. ~ Rene Magritte

But at the same time, more daylight allows more bird sightings.

Western/Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay, December 13, 2020.

I refuse to allow the greedhead bastards to take away all my joy. Happy Solstice!

Insult to injury

We’re eight months into a pandemic. Over 300,000 have died. Millions have lost their employer-based health insurance. Millions are facing food shortages while food banks struggle to meet the overwhelming needs.

Did our elected officials come together this week to provide every person a monthly check? Did they vote to provide Medicare for All? Did they cancel student debt? Of course not.

Cooper’s Hawk by Zippy. September 18, 2020.

Last week they voted for a $740 billion defense spending bill. This week they’re generously offering We the People $600 each, up to $2,400/household.

When will we finally rise up?

So very long ago

I took this photo last March, at the beginning of the quarantine.

Western/Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay, March 20, 2020.

Little did I know what was in store for everyone. I’m quite sure I stood at the window that day, focusing on the scrub jays and bushtits visiting the feeders, knowing the best and healthiest path forward was to seek out beauty and moments of quiet joy.

I hope this scrub jay is still alive and well. I hope the forecast for snow this weekend comes true (because Colorado needs moisture). And I hope I never stop seeing the beauty around me.

Sunday Confessional: saved by a sloth

I’ve got strong feelings about ALL SORTS OF STUFF right now and felt a rant rising inside me. But as I tried to pin down exactly what I wanted to convey, I paused and reconsidered. Maybe what I really wanted to do was post about the writing life: the process, my progress, the angst and insecurities, etc. I’ve written many such posts over the years and appreciate that documentation which reminds me I’ve been here before and survived. Breathe, Tracy.

Which is how I began searching through Douglas Adams quotes, knowing he wasn’t an angsty guy but would provide me with the tone needed today. And here’s what resonated with me:

My absolute favourite piece of information is the fact that young sloths are so inept that they frequently grab their own arms and legs instead of tree limbs, and fall out of trees.  ~ Douglas Adams

Image by Minke Wink from Pixabay

Why does this resonate? One: it cracked me up. Two: I can relate to those young sloths because Three: as I near the end of this first draft, I vacillate between an overwhelming sense of ineptness and glimmers of “hot damn, this might actually not suck too much!”

And at the risk of sounding like a sloth-shamer: I haven’t yet fallen out of the tree.

Too long

American Robin. January 21, 2020.

A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long.   ~ e.e. cummings

Hang in there

Each morning, I play loud, upbeat music to help me get going (one of my go-to songs is What’d I Say by Ray Charles) and yesterday it worked like a charm. I was singing and dancing as I washed my face when suddenly, the reality of what we’re enduring hit me. I froze, staring at my tear-filled eyes in the mirror. I felt a crushing weight, the despair pressing down on me as I remembered all over again that we’re truly on our own. Then I blinked away the tears and sang more loudly. When one day at a time feels like too much, I take it one breath at a time. That’s how I cope.

Squirrel friend out my window. November 20, 2020.

Please take care of yourselves and hang in there as best you can. My enduring hope is that we the people will rise up together to demand better. In the meanwhile, sing, dance, or do whatever carries you through those especially tough moments.

#Caturday with Loki

As anyone who has ever been around a cat for any length of time well knows, cats have enormous patience with the limitations of the human kind.  ~ Cleveland Amory

Loki on November 20, 2020

And we’re really stretching their feline patience these days. Come on, human kind. We’ve got to do much, much better.

Happy Halloween!

Marcel rehearsing his scary face. January 25, 2020.

Boo!

People in the neighborhood are being creative with their candy offerings. One house has a long tube running from an upstairs window to the driveway. I think the trick or treaters are supposed to shout in the tube to make candy come down. Another house has a catapult. We’re setting out candy on a table in the driveway which isn’t nearly as creative, but it’s still a fine chocolate-delivery system.

Never happen in the U.S.?

Before the military coup in Chile, we had the idea that military coups happen in Banana Republics, somewhere in Central America. It would never happen in Chile. Chile was such a solid democracy. And when it happened, it had brutal characteristics. ~ Isabel Allende

We’re so confused now, focused on “is he/isn’t he” which gives them time and room to maneuver. They wouldn’t even need the military because there’s an army of white supremacists on standby.

I realize this makes me sound like a conspiracy theorist, a paranoid crackpot. But this isn’t a solid democracy, not by a long shot.