Quarantine Diaries — Chapter 15: Falling Toward Fall

The year 2020 is exhausting, to say the least.  First, the pandemic, then a major health problem, then the increasingly dystopian presidential election debacle.  As tempting as it is to get mired down in politics, life goes on, even in the middle of the collapse of our civilization.  It’s been a while since we covered life in general.  In our last episode, we were engrossed in the Zoom world, which is now a “normal” part of life.

Realizing that, even though Zoom is a substitute for getting out in the world with our friends and all the organizations to which we belong, it also frees us from being locked in our house.  The excuse I used for retiring from my Montana job when I did and moving to Washington, even though I had active projects was, “Ah, that room full of servers I manage, down the hall, the room I never go into?  I can not go into that room from anywhere on the planet.”  So, I continued working, remotely, for another five years, though with greatly reduced hours.  Well, the same thing applies to Zoom.  A few weeks ago, we decided to take a break, get out of the house.  We booked a few days at the beach resort we stayed at in early March, the week before The End Of The World As We Knew It.  We left a day early, camped halfway, cold meals to avoid breaking out the cooking kit, and got in some beach walking in the early evening and a bike ride in the morning.  We grabbed some pastries and coffee at a bakery and took a longer beach walk on the way to the resort, where we jacked in to the ‘Net for our evening Zoom session for a board meeting.

The next morning, we rolled out our yoga mats and joined our yoga class back at the Senior Center in Shelton, via Zoom.  Another bike ride before the rain storms hit, so we stayed in and watched the storm the next day.  On the way home the day after, we stopped at the Cranberry Museum during a lull in the stormy weather.  When we drove by two days before, they were harvesting, but not this day, so we hiked around the bogs, in various stages of ripening and harvesting, and learned that the wet harvesting we see is only used for cranberry jellies and juices: the bags of fresh cranberries are dry harvested, but not at that location.  Washington State has a thriving cranberry industry nestled between the dunes on the coast between the Columbia, Willapa, and Chehalis rivers. It’s not big, maybe sixth or seventh behind Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and others, but it’s an important agricultural fixture in the coastal dunes.

After the storms passed and warm weather returned, we got busy with painting the upstairs hallway windows we replaced several years ago.  Much of the woodwork had been painted over by previous owners, so we reluctantly followed suit and painted the window frames as well.  As of this writing, I have one window to go, just the sash, with six lights that need taped, and I’m low on masking tape.

Judy has gotten back into working on her art journals, primarily making envelopes and folders to use as inserts, but it keeps her busy.  I’m spending too much time on answering computer questions.  I’ve been putting off several programming projects for lack of motivation, so I signed up for an on-line class on Python3 (I’ve been programming in Python 2 off and on for a few years, but thinking in other languages and painstakingly translating into Python, so taking a class, even one designed for beginners, is a good way to get immersed in the Python language, as I have done in the past with C, Lisp, Perl, PHP, and Ruby when I was chained to a desk all day and needed to keep busy while waiting for things to break or someone to need assistance.  My homework is probably a bit more embellished with some more advanced features than the minimum requirement, but it’s going well so far.

The programming student in class: Lecture video on right, homework and practice in center, textbooks on left. What did we do before we had wrap-around computer monitors? Oh, yes, the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on the left.

I’m still in Physical Therapy, working on  healing up the sciatic nerve pathways and getting stronger in the right places so it doesn’t happen again.  Since we’ve incorporated our yoga practice along with the PT “homework,” Judy does them with me, so we’re both getting fitter and stronger.  Our outside exercise is still mostly walking up and down the hills of our little city, and the 8-mile bike ride two weeks ago seemed to go well, so things are looking up, though we’re reluctant to head for the bike trails in the city or ride the busy streets and steep hills around home.  The mile-age “Birthday Ride” isn’t in the cards this year, but there are other goals.  It’s always good to have goals, and back-up goals. We might count the 8-mile bike ride last month the and 8-kilometer hike last week as my 7.7 mile and 7.7 km ride/hike distances, as a consolation to the not-likely 77 km or 77 mile bike ride. But, there’s plenty left in 2020, so, who knows?  It only takes 9.6 miles or 15.5 km to log 77 furlongs, so that’s a definite possibility.

I had a bit of cooking slump for a while, but am back to baking and cooking things from scratch.  Judy likes to bake cookies, but we’re too good at eating them, and too fond of ice cream and cookies after a long walk, so our weight going into winter isn’t ideal.   So it goes: Wednesday was a baking and cooking day, Thursday was computer class homework in hopes of getting my next assignment before the weekend, which I finished Saturday night.  Friday was our virtual trip to Tacoma for the weaving guild meeting there.  We had a Zoom presentation by one of the artists-in-residence at Holly House a while back, from Holly House, and an open-air presentation this weekend, along with another Zoom weaving guild meeting next Friday.  As Calvin & Hobbes used to say, “The Days Are Just Packed.”

We rarely turn on the television.  Well, actually we do, but it’s a streaming device, so more properly, we rarely watch broadcast programming.  Instead, we watch non-network TV news on YouTube, getting programs we don’t get on our TV subscription.  Mostly, we’re hooked into the usual NPR Morning Edition and switch to the satellite NPR talk radio after, sometimes switch back to All Things Considered in the evening, while flipping through YouTube videos on our computers and phones.  We used to joke that we listened closely to the news so we’d know when it was time to head for the border, but the border is still closed, so it doesn’t matter: we have to take a stand where we are and hope we’re not first against the wall when the revolution comes.

The COVID-19 pandemic is ramping up again in many places, so we’re especially careful going out.  Be safe, be well, and maybe we’ll see some of you in 2023, if it’s safe (and permitted) to travel farther by then, and we’re all still here.