Wednesday, August 5, 2020

More dining in the age of coronavirus

My neighbor used the chain link fence that runs down my driveway separating her house from mine to grow a cucumber vine upon.  It grew several fat cucumbers just hanging down.  I would show you a picture of the one I selected for a meal, after I asked my neighbor if I could have one, but this blog stopped importing pictures from my computer a few months ago and aside from pictures already in my blog posts, I can't get pictures to populate here anymore.  (Shrug)

I cut off the cucumber and hurried inside.  I had already laid out three plate with slices of sour dough bread on them.  After I rinsed off the cucumber, I slathered a little bit of light mayo on the bread slices and partially peeled the cucumber, making it look striped.  I sliced the cucumber medium thick and laid a single layer of sliced cucumbers on the bread and sprinkled a light dusting of sea salt on them.

I put the top slice of bread on the creation and enjoyed a delicious sandwich which was very filling.  The key was eating the sandwich within five minutes of taking the cucumber off the vine.  I took the other two sandwiches next door for the lady whose cucumber I used and her husband.  They said they enjoyed it very much, that previously they had only created a vinegar brine for cucumber slices to enjoy them that way.

The next day my neighbor brought me a cucumber sandwich she had made with a fresh cucumber in the same way but with additions.  She added guacamole to the sandwich along with finely chopped red onions, which made the sandwich even more tasty than my simpler sandwich was.  The possibilities are endless.  And I didn't have to travel further than my driveway in these perilous times to enjoy a sumptuous lunch.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Dining Out in the Age of the Coronavirus

Dining out seems to be one of the things lost in this year-that-wasn't, thanks to the coronavirus, but I've made do by turning my front porch into a dining area.  A friend frequently comes over since she lives in an apartment in the city and doesn't have access to any outdoor seating by her unit and we sit at the Little Tykes table I've set up on my porch along with two plastic chairs.

We sit six feet away from each other, take off our masks and eat the fare we've carried out from nearby restaurants, pizza--bagels--frothy cold soup concocted like a smoothie.  We throw bread pieces into the yard and draw birds in to gobble up the dough balls for our amusement.

My friend has downloaded an app (Merlin) on her phone that tells us what the bird likely is when she uploads a picture of it--the app has identified house sparrows, northern mockingbirds, cardinals and bluejays.  The last two we didn't need help identifying.

I sit in the same dining area twice a month and have a FaceTime lunch with a friend and former colleague from work--he lives in Florida currently--and eat egg salad sandwiches I make and drink a beer or two as we recount out twenty-five years of work together.  We haven't forgotten a single one of those good times in the past.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Visions of ice-cream bars

I have been hunkered down since March, taking only essential trips while fully masked such as to BLM Plaza in the District in early June to confront those silent, foreboding, anonymous soldiers in full combat gear in a line keeping the people away from the people's house.  Yesterday I traveled to INOVA Blood Donation Center in Annandale to donate whole blood.

A disconcerting sign greeted me upon arrival, telling me to leave immediately if, within the last 14 days: "You have traveled to an area with an outbreak of COVID-19. Currently the CDC has identified outbreaks in the following areas-All areas of all countries worldwide [including] cruise ships or riverboat travel anywhere in the world." I looked real hard at it to see if it was a Trump Tweet, it was so ridiculous. Yes, I ignored the warning sign and donated blood because I think I am not currently sick and perhaps sick or injured people currently could use a little O+ blood infusion (very sought after).

I had wanted to get into some kind of plasma therapy program because I think I might have had the coronavirus in February because I was as sick as I have ever been for two weeks with a cough-your-lungs-out respiratory illness but there is no antibody test I can get ("You only had the flu" said the doctor I talked to over the phone last month last month, who would have had to write me a prescription to get an antibody test but, she assured me, Kaiser doesn't do antibody test anyway) so I just donated whole blood.  Oh well, dumping a bag of whole blood in twenty minutes is a whole lot better for me anyway than spending 90-120 minutes hooked up to a a centrifuge machine that takes fluid out, whirls plasma out and returns the blood because it takes 6-8 units of blood (your body's entire volume) to get a unit of plasma.

After the donation, I went to the post-blooding refreshment center where I noted with pleasure that the center had added frozen ice cream bars to the water, juices and cookies that have always been provided.  I opened the freezer and identified the ice-cream bar I was going to enjoy but I left it in the freezer while I finished the orange juice I was drinking.  Meanwhile another old man like me shuffled in and stood socially distant from me between me and the freezer while he temporarily removed his mask (as I had) to drink his bottle of water.  Suddenly he erupted in a big, juicy cough into the crook of his elbow but without a mask on and I stared in horror at the freezer on the far side of him.  In it was the ice cream bar I had already identified as being to die for and which I really wanted since I haven't had ice cream in over 100 days.  I could, however, figuratively see an 8-foot square area of expelled droplets swarming around this man, directly between me and that freezer in this restricted indoor space.  Practically crying out in despair, I immediately executed a 180 degree turnaround and walked very fast out of the center.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Three months to go . . .

Thank goodness that hot, long July is behind us.  Three months (and three days) to go to starting to restore America's former greatness, which is all gone now in three and a half chaotic, unstructured  years, poof!

Postpone the November election, really?  That wasn't done even during the heights of the Civil War or World War II.

Mail-in voting is "a mess?"  Sez who, the liar is chief?  Mail-in voting has been going on for years, decades, without any problems and it works well, especially in these times of a totally mismanaged national pandemic which has already killed 154,000 Americans in a mere five months because of Trumps's disorganization, incompetence or laziness, or all three
.

I'll be visiting city hall on the very first day of early voting to cast my ballot.  I can't wait.

Friday, July 31, 2020

What?

A 32.9% drop in the annual GDP was announced yesterday, the greatest drop in history by a staggering amount.  Yeah, I'm tired of winning.

The faux president yesterday tweeted that he thought the November election should be postponed.  Is this what you voted for in 2016?

Over 153,000 Americans have died from Covid-19 in five months in America (over 1400 on Wednesday) because of the criminally negligent response by our president to the arrival of the coronavirus on our shores months after it was unearthed in China.  That's the greatest number of deaths in the world by far, making America great, uh huh.

Herman Cain, a 74 year old businessman who in 2012 was for awhile the leading Republican candidate in the GOP's presidential primary that year as the self-declared ABC candidate (American Black Conservative) attended President Trump's "relaunch" of his 2020 reelection campaign late last month in an indoor arena in Tulsa, packed in with other attendees, none of them wearing masks or socially distancing, has died of the coronavirus.  It was criminally negligent to hold such a rally at such a time.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Summer's half gone...

. . . and I haven't been to the beach yet or even in the water other than the shower.  Last summer I took a July 4th car trip to get out of town so I didn't have to listen to our ridiculous liar-in-chief talk on the Mall about patriots securing all the airports during the Revolutionary War.  I swam in the ocean off Cape Hatteras, saw a baseball game in Atlanta, visited the Andersonville Civil War POW Camp, explored the Chickamauga battlefield, toured the D-Day Museum in Bedford and finished up the trip at Appomattox Courthouse where the Civil War came to an end.  But this year, nada.

I've planted many perennial flowers in my yard, walked the streets round my house to get some roadway miles in, went to BLM Plaza in the District twice to try to figure out why military troops were patrolling ("dominating" in our clown-in-chief's words) the DC streets, donate blood once, talked to a Kaiser doctor on the phone to try to get the coronavirus antibody test so I could engage in plasma therapy but she wasn't having any of it (of course--I live in America and there are no adequate tests anywhere for anyone except the for the White House and for major league sports) and I read three books including two pulitzer prize winners, but that's a pretty paltry summertime report.

I got my taxes done, that was a big thing for me.  Basically I moved piles of documents around my dining room table for weeks and then on July 9th shoved a disorganized sheaf of jumbled papers in an envelope and overnighted them to my accountant in Colorado (I used to live there).  He was hopping mad, I thought he was going to discharge me but he got them finished and filed on time and I have even received a refund already.  Trying to do taxes drives me into the thrall of lassitude and days pass by with no progress.  After I spent a day trying to get my 2019 W-2, I learned that retirees like me don't get W-2s, they get 1099-Rs instead.  My 401K continues its dizzying (sickening?) decline but I anticipate a change come January and hope it'll come back then.

So what to do?  Stay home and read more books and each day's copy of the Washington Post?  There's no baseball to go watch in person, which could have otherwise afforded me a satisfactory small side trip.  I've thought about taking a short trip to North Carolina where I could be on the coast and take a dip in the ocean but I don't want to get or spread the virus.  The shortness of breath, which makes it so I can't sleep and I have to get up no matter how exhausted I am and sit upright or walk about downstairs or in the cool of  the early morning air outside, occasionally comes back and causes me to wonder if I have or still have or had the virus and my lungs are scarred,  It exhausts me thinking about it.  There's no testing in Trump's America, have I already say that?  So I can't find out in these lonely hours as the weeks and months pass by whether I'm sick or have been sick or not; am I hypochondriac or normal, stalwart in my enforced semi-isolation or depressed by it?  The whole reality of where we are and what we've become is driving me crazy.  Good job, you 63 million reckless voters of four years ago who brought about, predictably enough as to the ultimate outcome albeit not the actual event itself, our disastrous response (151,000 American deaths in five months headed towards maybe over half a million or more) to this predictable enough worldwide calamity.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Happy Birthday, Jim

July always makes me think of my 4 or 5 year divorce, that cost me a quarter million dollars.  What I got out of it beyond becoming thankfully clear of Sharon who is, in my opinion, a destructive covert narcissist, was the extra-judicial extinguishment of my fatherhood of my three minor sons though extreme Parental Alienation Syndrome ("PAS") perpetrated by Sharon, a form of child abuse in the opinion of many including me, and, get this, lifetime alimony.

Lifetime alimony exists pretty much only in Virginia, a state that still clings to contributory negligence, versus the modern doctrine of comparative negligence in the courtroom which effectively ensures some form of righteous compensation from wrongdoers for injured persons.  The reason July makes me think about this stuff is because Jim, her older second husband (I am younger than Sharon--she didn't age well--but Jim is many years older than her), was born in July and after many years of me paying her alimony, he married her and thus ended my lifetime alimony.

She sent me a certified letter to notify me of her remarriage (although even so, per usual, she didn't fully comply with the information required by the divorce decree) but what my corrosive, expensive divorce taught me was never present yourself to receive an unknown certified letter.  You see, I was litigating for years against low-down dirty-lawsuit experts and that's what they did; yes, those scumbags she surrounded herself and our children with taught me a lot.  But eventually my agency accepted her letter notifying me that she had re-married (she always needs someone around to do her manipulative drama on) and I found out on my own what county in North Carolina the happy event took place in and sent away for a certified copy of her latest marriage certificate so that, many weeks later, I could send it to my payroll office to get rid of my lifetime alimony.

That certificate, a public document, was a thing of beauty, giving the full names (including mother's maiden name, if I remember correctly), dates of birth, social security numbers and current addresses of everyone involved, including witnesses.  All that PI stuff in the public domain is good to know, I guess.  I know exactly how old old Jim is.

I wish I could meet Jim so I could thank him for saving me hundreds of thousands of dollars over my lifetime by taking this economic sponge off my books.  She was costing me $18,000 a year and I still wasn't seeing my kids.  How does that work?  Only in current America.

I've seen Jim, I believe, at least three times but I have never met him.  I believe he was the date of Sharon when both came out of her house one Friday evening while I was on the sidewalk calling her number on my cellphone (my calls to her house asking for the children to be sent out for court-ordered visitation were never answered) to say that I was there at the appropriate time for my visitation of my minor sons.  While the wimpy-looking male hung back, she asked what I was doing there and I told her that it was Friday at 5 pm and I was here to pick up my children for my visitation as required by court order.  She dismissively told me that they weren't there (that's "cooperation" in encouraging the children in visitation, as required by the court order, for you) and she ordered the male standing back in the shadows to get in the jeep at the curb so they could depart.  As she came down the steps to the sidewalk to get in the passenger side, I retreated off the sidewalk into the street 15 feet behind the jeep in observation of the learned, unwritten rule that if you hold your ground during an encounter relating to a divorce, and anyone in her camp comes too close to you, they're likely to later claim that you were "menacing" somehow.  Yeah, that's how bad divorces go, and how females can play the Fright card which is a close cousin to, and enhances, the Victim card.

The male got behind the wheel and started up the jeep.  There was plenty room to pull forward out into the travel lane (there was no traffic on this residential street) but suddenly the back-up lights came on and the jeep lurched backwards rapidly maybe a dozen feet and I was frozen in fear that I was about to be struck by it when the gears clunked and the jeep changed course and pulled forward and away.  I've described this encounter in a past blog entry.

Whether the male was ordered to back up by Sharon or he did it on his own, to scare me, or it was a mistake, it left me shaking but I think that was Jim behind the wheel.  It might not have been him though, maybe it was some other older loser.  After all, I've never been introduced to Jim, "dad" to my youngest child at least (Danny so loves being in Jim's summer house on the Outer Banks, that's where he proposed to his wife, at his "dad's" house on the beach, as I learned a couple of years later from reading the wedding book on the Internet to my child's wedding that I was never invited to nor told about until a neighbor mentioned it to me).

I did see Jim once trying to use an ATM outside a bank as I drove home from work one Saturday after they were married.  They lived two miles from me and I was driving past going home when I saw Sharon on the sidewalk by the bank near her townhouse.  Of course I scrutinized the scene as I drove by and there was this poor man trying to get money out of an ATM as she supervised his efforts.  Sharon had her mouth working in a fury, and her visage was as I remembered it, typically furious and impatient when not in the the sight of others.  After all, if she thought people were around when she was haranguing someone close to her she wouldn't want to besmirch her phony image of sweetness and reveal her true character of being a user of all those around her, in my opinion.  Poor guy, but better him than me.

The next time I saw Jim has also been mentioned in a past blog post or posts. I was once again driving home on a public street from work on a weekend, and I saw a large knot of people walking a large German Shepherd dog on the sidewalk not far from where she lived.  I recognized Sharon and I, missing my children as the years dragged by with no communication from these ruined now-adults (PAS is essentially a form of brainwashing immature minds and can have a lifetime effect, especially upon young, susceptible children), parked at my first opportunity on this street so I could ask Sharon, on this public street, how my children, our children, were.

I walked up to the group of people which included Sharon, with Jim next to her, and a few other adults including other men, the large dog, a teen or two and maybe a pre-teen.  I maintained proper social distance, as we would call it these days, didn't impede, block or confront them in any way and asked, taking less than a minute total since I received nary word in reply from anyone, these five simple questions for each child of mine (and hers): Is he alive. Is he well? Is he married? Does he have children? Where does he live?  I encountered only stony silence during that minute as they walked along, and I walked away.

Anyway, your birthday was earlier this month, Jim (I know the day), and even if you didn't want to give a distraught father even a trace of information about his sons in response to his desperate questions about them then (not even an encouraging: They're all alive, okay?), Happy Birthday, old feller!  At least you saved me a lot of money!