The PVP Diaries #46

Just trying to limit the future undoings

 

Update 5-19

I’m just a guy with a pile of damp sand in the driveway.

………

There’s so much that goes on everyday, and yet so little happening. I think that’s where the paralysis comes from. Press conferences and new websites and dashboards and applications for this and that and collapsing bridges and closing streets…masked mayors and lines at the hardware store and yet the sun and rain, and yet the sun, and yet…

There’s a blog I used to read every day (it’s still going strong) that eventually led me to recognize something about the relationship between criticism and character. The author had outstanding, clever, brilliant insights into all the political  happenings in the world. He saw the flaws in all of the more widely accepted and vociferously approved social movements, and was extremely adept at logically, sensibly, rationally deconstructing them to show them for the flawed propositions that they were (are) (as long as they were carried out by progressives). I almost invariably agreed with him. I have no doubt that he has an awful lot to say on a daily basis about the Wuhan Flu and all the turmoil surrounding it. But then I realized that after a year or so of reading and commenting on his essays, I was in the company of someone who spent a significant amount – probably a majority – of his mental and emotional energy, on complaining. Every. Single. Day. Often at great length. However much I agreed or believed him to be right, it was inexhaustible negativity. I thought and wrote:

I can’t imagine a life with my daughter if, even after these scant four years, she had a dour, bitter, angry father. Would she ever smile at anything other than someone else’s misfortune? 

………

3 days later and I am still slowed by my wet sand, but little by little I am drying it out and making progress:

Nearly there 2

Nearly There

I actually got out of bed last night – minutes after climbing in – because I remembered that there was rain in the forecast. I threw on some clothes and swept up my drying sand so I could get a tarp over it. Fool me once…

………

I guess I know what to expect from my mornings for a while:

………

My daughter’s happiness is all simple, and all wonderful, and none of it is dependent upon her own perception of her cleverness among the throngs. There are only two people in the world who know how to smile like a four year old: A four year old, and the person holding her hand. It’s never long before she tells me I’m squeezing too hard.

Please loosen your grip, Comrade Citizen. You’re hurting her.

 

The PVP Diaries #45

Just in time for Halloween

Update 5-18

I’m just a guy who was kept up all night by cats.

I’ll accept a temporary tax hike to pay for intensive testing and tracking of the regular flu next year – everything they’re doing for the Wuhan Flu, without all the tyranny. I’m just curious. I just want to see. You know, data and science. All that.

I heard someone the other day say why it was so important to close churches. Now, this is probably widely traveled stuff by now, but I’m pretty news-deprived, and I don’t tend to hunt down the details when I hear that liberals and conservatives have different ideas about what should be done with churches. So this information was new to me, and I utterly failed to swallow a chuckle when I heard it:

“It’s all the singing.”

Right. Gotcha. Okilee-dokilee, neighbor.

Flanders Gun

I am against, ever and always, the replacement of joy with fear.

………

I went to pick up The Boy’s school packet for the week, and drop off his completed work from last week. That’s been the only shortcoming from his school – I have no clear guidance on exactly what to turn in. There’s just a bag full of stuff every week, a schedule for what to do, and a couple of things clearly marked “do not return to school.” Other than that, I just kind of pile up everything he’s done and send it back. In the first week, his cursive workbook had a note on it that said “return for corrections,” and that it would come back on the next available pickup day. So I turned it in. 3 weeks later I asked about it and they rushed someone to our house to drop it off because it has to be completed in order to move on to 4th grade, and now we’re 3 weeks behind. It’s alright; there isn’t that much to do, and he doesn’t mind working on it. Still, he panicked and cried when he heard that part about not getting out of 3rd grade.

As he always does, he recovered very quickly got to doing what needed to be done.

They’ve sent home seeds and a tomato plant. we’ll participate selectively in the gardening. We don’t have very many sunny spots at all, and I’m not building any contraptions to help things along. I know how to garden on a very simple, amateur level, and I can teach them easily enough. I’ve grown things. It isn’t rocket science. One of the packets is pumpkin seeds. These will not be planted. I have no interest in pumpkins, and having grown a squash before, I know the obscene sprawl of those plants. No thank you.

………

Here’s a piece of a conversation I had with my brother yesterday. He was being belligerent, and I have a hard time being generous when that happens:

Perceptions

………

I did a little more work on the patio, but didn’t take any pictures. The sand was still so wet that I had to spread it in thin parcels on the driveway and let it dry for a couple of hours before using it, so it wasn’t a day of great progress. Today, though, should see me just about finished. Except that’s never true: I still have to lay some drain pipe and backfill the wall, build up some soil around the exposed parts of the perimeter, and install some lights. I’m a little tired of shovels and rakes, I’m here to tell you.

………

I’ve heard plenty about how they like the warmth of the keyboard, but this won’t do:

Keyboard Cats

Finish the job, Comrade Citizen!

 

The PVP Diaries #44

Don’t step on the cats!

Update 5-17

I’m just a guy eating coffee cake.

………

Please say hello to Princess Wuhannah and Madame Quarantina:

Q&W

10 weeks old. Their practical names are Rae and Maggie, a couple of matronly names in our family, but we will register them under their more formal monikers at the vet next week.

I fear for our furniture, but we will take all necessary precautions. They used the litter box right from the start – not a single errant discharge in the house. However, the self-cleaning litter box is large and a bit noisy. There’s a minor smell coming from it, but we’ll move it to its final position in the laundry room today – meaning that, effectively, I’ll be the only one in the family who ever sees it. .I compare this to raising a puppy and have no regrets at all about skipping that trauma. The kids have to be forced to leave the poor things alone, but when these two get some space they can’t stop chasing each other around, tackling, pouncing and bouncing, stalking, leaping. It’s so much fun to watch. Their intrepid acrobatics are already very impressive. 

It just dawned on me that I may very well be hanging out with these two into my 60’s.

Real time shot:

On the keyboard

I had two cats years ago, when I was living in an apartment off base at Ft. Huachuca, AZ. I gave them to a friend when I was sent off to Korea. Which reminds me of a story that I’ll keep short: Some friends and I were walking to a bar outside the gates of Camp Humphreys when we came upon a tiny little kitten huddled against a building in the pouring rain. We picked it up and took it to the bar, where we were friends with the owner. She drove the kitty to a an animal hospital (or a vet or a friend’s house, I actually don’t remember, but I know she was a huge animal lover) and asked us to run the bar while she was gone. It was early on a weekday, and not busy, but we did sell a few beers before she came back. There’s not a lot of places you can get away with that.

………

We are getting so very close on the patio. My sand got soaked Saturday night, because I was a bit forgetful and mesmerized by the downpour, so I didn’t cover it. I asked my brother if this would be a problem, and he said, “if it’ll screed, go for it.” The top layers of the big pile were workable:

Screed

Working alone, and in small sections at a time so as not to get ahead of myself and make mistakes, I made slow progress:

Stones down

ي فاشفط

(Sorry, cat got onto the keyboard and managed to change it to Arabic. That doesn’t say anything, though it would sound something like “ee faashfat.”)

I had to stop working on the patio because the remaining sand needed to be drier. I spread some out on a second tarp, and should be able to finish laying the stones today. Also, I think they sent me an extra pallet of large rectangles (16″x24″). There’s over a hundred of them left, and I’m almost halfway finished. I’ve only used about 20 so far. I’d think of it as a windfall, but the idea of building another patio makes me want to bury myself under the one I’m working on now.

Send air freshener, Comrade Citizen!

 

The PVP Diaries #43

It’s a Real Minderbinder

“They’re trying to kill me,” Yossarian told him calmly.
“No one’s trying to kill you,” Clevinger cried.
“Then why are they shooting at me?” Yossarian asked.
“They’re shooting at everyone,” Clevinger answered. “They’re trying to kill everyone.”
“And what difference does that make?”

— Catch-22

Update 5-15

If Governor Inslee said tomorrow, “You know what? Screw it. Everything’s open, all restrictions are off, and you can go back to living like you were in January,” millions of people across Washington would be completely paralyzed. Without Olympia telling them how to be good people, they’d be hugging their computers and watching the dead feed from the public access channel, wondering what he meant.

For anyone feeling unclear about exactly what a Catch-22 is:

Catch-22

“The parks are open for your enjoyment! But if you go there, we’ll close them.”

There aren’t enough ex-PFC Wintergreens among us.

………

Your official ballad for the Wuhan Virus:

Dear Governor Inslee,

Don’t say it’s over
Cause that’s the worst news I could hear.
I swear that I will
Do my best to be here
Just the way you like it.
Even though it’s hard to hide,
Push my feelings all aside
I will rearrange my plans
And change for you.

Sincerely,
Your devoted voters

………

I guess that “computer glitch” got fixed – or rather it fixed itself, didn’t it? If glitches happen on their own, why not solutions? I suppose that’s rather telling (and easy to spot when you’ve been raising small children), that we can’t take blame for creating problems, but we’re always raising our hands when they’re fixed (insert your plague management parallel here).  Back to it – and it’s like Toy Story for middle aged men:

Toy Story Truck

Woody

It’s a pretty daunting amount of material:

Staged

I’ve told you that we have pretty great neighbors here on our not-so-dead end street. Yesterday one of them, having seen, heard, smelled (or some combination of the three) all those beautiful blocks and slabs unloaded, sauntered into my yard with a water bottle and a pair of gloves and asked “what do you need me to do?” Well, friend, I don’t need you to anything more than be the generous man you are. He wound up working like a grunt, running wall blocks in twos, from the pallets to the patio, about 20-30 feet away. From there I stacked them.

As is true in every part of life where it’s possible, thorough prep made the job easier. This first course went down quickly, and with very few tweaks and mallet-taps for leveling:

Plaguewall first course

Once that and the other leg were down and verified square, the only thing left was the running and stacking and gluing:

Plaguewall 4

And stacking and gluing:

Plaguewall 1

Plaguewall 2
Must always give some love to the Stone Zamboni

There’s about 40 more wall blocks to stack, then the capstones. I’m hoping I have enough adhesive. Normally, that close to completion, I would have driven through to the end. Alas, my neighbor’s kids – 3 and 5 years old – were starting to need a little too much attention, 6:30 was approaching, and I couldn’t keep things up much longer without eaing some food. Cleaned up the site and turned in.

After dinner we had s’mores, cooked over the propane fire table:

S'mores

I might get to starting on the actual patio pavers today, but I do still have to:

  1.  Finish building the wall
  2.  Backfill the wall – just enough to leave room for the drain pipe that hasn’t arrived yet.
  3.  Finalize the gravel sub-base, including a final, glorious run with the Stone Zamoboni.

I’m guessing that I’ll be working right up to the point where I’m ready to start laying the sand, stop right there, then clean up and get a fresh start on Sunday.

 

You won’t be shot if you’re crazy, but you aren’t crazy if you don’t want to be shot, Comrade Citizen!

The PVP Diaries #42

Quick! Get sick!

Update 5-14

Look, it’s not difficult. Nor is it pleasant. We’re simple. We’re not as brilliant or clever or free-thinking as we’d like to believe. If Washington state were here today with the lone difference that Governor Inslee were a Republican, having done everything exactly the same way as he has done them as a Democrat, the praise would be coming from conservatives, and the condemnation would be coming from the liberals. That’s it. Period. Don’t fool yourself.

“But if he was conservative he wouldn’t – ”

Knock it off. You’re deflecting. Virtue doesn’t vote.

Hospitalizations

Statisfaction: The degree to which you can make data that directly contradicts your desired outcome, nonetheless fit your desired outcome.

So people pretty much stopped going to the ER for anything remotely related to the Wuhan Flu in what, March? Early April at the latest? I know the obvious response is “because restrictions, boomer,” and the follow on is that “if we relax now we’ll see a dramatic resurgence.” Fine, whatever, have your petty little preparation for the coming election. Make it look like something that can only be salvaged and repaired by anybody not named Trump. Just be honest about it. I would skip, whistling, into an Orwellian 1984 reality if the people throwing that particular party would just admit what they were doing. I swear I’d take confinement over pandering and sanctimonious head-patting ten times out of ten, if my jailers would just look me in the eye and say:

“We’re really just doing this to control and defeat you, out of a feeling of spite that we can’t quite locate the source of, and a general desire for absolute power.”

“So you’re not saying that this is for my own good, or that I should trust you or anything?”

“Oh, goodness no! Lol! We just want to grab everything we possibly can, hoard it among a few very powerful people, and not have any of you morons getting in our way.”

“Cool then. Show me to my cell.”

“Your what?”

“Excuse me, ma’am. I meant to say ‘show me to my comfortable new lodgings.”

………

I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me

………

The donuts were a chocolate cake variety, with peppermint glaze:

Chocmint

They are very good, of course, but she’s made them 3 times in a row now. And me, I like a nice, puffy raised ring, rolled in cinnamon and sugar. I wish she’d do those, but she can require some nudging, sometimes, to leave her comfort zones. Can’t we all? I’ve gone through several of the more creative offerings at my favorite bakery (though honestly they’re pretty old school and don’t do much to appease the foodie crowd) and have settled on two basics: the aforementioned cinnamon/sugar, as well as the Thursday special, which is a glazed buttermilk knot.

………

My wife is going to drive into the office today. The big downtown. She hasn’t been there since early March, and is under guidance to work from home until October. If it goes longer than that we’ll be turning the guest room into her office. We’ll take it. It’s been very nice to have everyone here, which is how I know we’re doing things well, as a family.

………

It doesn’t look much different, but it is. There’s about 3 new inches of gravel on there:

Compacted 2

Level

The two wall sides have the channels prepped for the wall blocks. Tamped down and level, ready to be stacked upon. It won’t be as easy as dropping them in and going for the next block – there will be little adjustments, baby tweaks with the rubber mallet to get the bottom course in there just right, but once that’s done it’ll be all about the building up and gluing.

Unfortunately, there’s a materials delay. Of course. Nothing to do with any Chinese viruses. The girl in the call center said they had a “major computer glitch,” which of course means that somebody screwed something up, and the company wants to avoid – as much as possible – being yelled at by angry customers, so they’ve invoked the great ephemeral notion of rogue software. Nobody’s gonna have that argument, you know? It’s just gonna be people like me, knowing that the “computer glitch” is a garbage lie, but succumbing to the realization that pressing the matter isn’t going to get my order here any faster (or end the lockdown any sooner, but I’d hate to have a cohesive theme in my posts). Might actually delay it another day or two (or month or six, but I should really stop with that). I wonder how often they get a guy like me on the line, but who also happens to be a programmer or a software engineer who asks “what was the glitch, exactly? I can help make sure it doesn’t happen again. Maybe transfer me to IT.”

Anyway. It’s a one day delay. It’ll be here tomorrow [the Governor assures me (STOP IT ANDY)].

I overestimated my gravel needs by roughly a cubic yard. But not really! I can use the extra as backfill for the wall. Good drainage material, though a bigger, cleaner gravel would be better. Here’s what’s left:

Plague pile day 2

This is where it started:

Rockpile

The weekend will be glorious. Hopefully the retaining wall will be finished, leaving me only the sand to put down, and the pavers to lay. Dare I project completion by this time next week? We’ll see!

For today, my unexpected down day (except let’s not forget the ongoing homeschooling of The Boy. He’s been doing beautifully), I have two pendant lights to install – one over the kitchen table, and one over the sink. We’re replacing a couple that are ok, but we didn’t realize when we ordered them that they were LED, and far too cool of a white light to be comfortable under.

………

Don’t be statisfied, Comrade Citizen!

Donut Monkey

A Plague Diaries Interlude

The Girl woke early this morning. Last night she brought out her donut cookbook and arranged a sort of challenge (though let’s be honest here, everyone wins in a donut competition) between herself and her friend/neighbor on our not-so-dead end street. She started making them – raised chocolate cake rings – at about 5:30. Never mind the old man in the kitchen saying “I’m halfway done making your dinner.” She made the rookie mistake of creating the recipe step-by-step, without reading through to the end, whereby she would have learned about the combined hours of resting, rising, and proofing involved. To follow its minimums would have had her dropping the first rings into the oil at about 11:00 pm. Mom assured her the dough would be fine in the morning, or even after school if it came to that. It would not, I already knew because I know her well, come to that.

Her competitor’s dad (my neighbor/friend, if I’m being consistent) sent a picture of her entry into the fray. It’s an impressive offering:

Zo-nuts

So like I said: the Girl woke early this morning. Easily an hour before what’s normal. She’s already in there turning out, rolling, and cutting. Plus, climbing up onto the counter to get the jigger from the high liquor cabinet. The jigger cuts the perfect sized holes in the rings. She doesn’t mount the counters as much as she used to, nor anywhere near as much as The Boy, whose early acrobatics and death-defying shelf-scaling earned him the svelte nickname of the Domestic Urban House Monkey (DUHM). The Girl, with affected disdain (but still-apparent relish), bears the name of Sister of Domestic Urban House Monkey (So DUHM). She’s too tall now to climb around the kitchen with much grace, but anything for donuts.

“Have you turned on the oil yet?”
“No, these still have to sit for another 30-45 minutes. I started them now so I could fry them after my first class.”

So, she can’t pick up a towel from the floor after she showers, but she can backwards plan to cook donuts between classes. I kinda want to flip her off for that. But the donuts will be too good for that kind of attitude. And you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow to see how they came out.

………

Now we’re cooking with Crisco!

Rockpile

Compacted

I love the plate compactor. I’m calling it “the stone zamboni.” There’s a degree of awe that I have for ridiculously specialized tools that do their job beautifully and simply, without apparent complication. The friend who loaned it to me said “it’s finicky.” It is, and it clearly has an awful lot of miles on it, but a little subtle conducting of the choke and the throttle gets it roaring to a terrific, if somewhat irregular, frequency, and it skates around the gravel like something a tenth of its weight, needing only a slight suggestion to turn here and there. My mistake was in not anticiapting what to do with it at the end of each application. It demolishes anything that it runs over, and hitting the dirt makes a cloud that Pigpen would be frightened of. After the first time bucking and heaving it around outside of the patio area, I built a little gravel driveway into/out of the pit so that I could put it aside and turn it around easily enough. Often the bigger jobs require a measure of peripheral work that will never show up in the final product, but nonetheless can’t be done without.

Let’s look back:

Patio Before
April 3
Stone Zamboni
May 13

Wall blocks and pavers come tomorrow!

 

The PVP Diaries #41

As far as plague numbers go, well, let’s just say “no change.” Single digit deaths for well over a week, maybe two. The highest has been 8. Don’t fret, there’s always odd little new emphases drummed up to keep anyone from thinking we’re doing alright. I mean, never mind whether you’re a pro- or anti-mask person, the idea is absurd that now, some four months deep and well into the flattened curve, we’re seeing intensified guidance and persuasion to wear them. Why wasn’t there such strong encouragement – right up to but not quite at the point of enforcement – back in mid-March when the schools were closing and the experts were telling us how bad it was going to be? Now that we’ve gotten dramatically better, the heightened measures kick in. Incompetence is just malice with a little ADHD.

Face Coverings

Suddenly Muslim women around the world are all “who’s oppressed now, a-hole?” Of course none of the Muslim women I know wear a face covering, some not any kind of headscarf at all, so the joke is just there for the sake of the joke. But you can always look, and look, and look until you find the reality that suits your snark and signaling.

In the first quarter of my return to school, at South Seattle College, I took a poetry class. There was a Muslim girl in there wearing the full burqa – only a mesh screen across the eyes. Her voice could have come from a Nebraskan as readily as a Numidian, and she did not waste it on complaint, threat, and accusation. It was the Fall of 2016, and she was the only one in the room not calling Republicans racists, or barking about toxicity, fragility, or intersectionality. She did not write poems about violence and despair. Her calm and measured demeanor made me want to shut up and do better.

But then you see again the burqa and realize there’s an awful lot that sits unsettled here. There are questions to be asked, and caution to be exercised, and respect to be remembered. And, for the True Love of God, a divine need for humility.

………

Safe Start

The Governor’s been putting out guidance for the re-opening of the economy in Washington, all of which I understand to be effective as of May 31, which is the current end date for the full restrictions that are in place now. The re-opening will come, you may have heard, in phases. He put out the phase 2 guidance for dine-in service at restaurants recently. It reads as a very unpleasant way to run a restaurant. All snark aside, it seems questionable whether it will be possible to not lose money under the phase 2 conditions. But I don’t run a restaurant and have no idea what any of thier books look like. And if it heightens morale and/or builds positive momentum towards the full normal, then it’s a net gain for all of us. Again, Inslee’s ability to not mire the mentality of his state in a black miasma of doom has been his principal success. I’d love for him to have been more bold and rebellious; to have distinguished himself with some degree of political courage. Of course there are an awful lot of people who will say that he has been courageous, and they’re the ones voting for him. He could at least have taken a moment to smack down Seattle’s mayor for that ridiculous park bench maneuver. (I prefer manoeuvre, FWIW)

………

It’s amazing how slowly time can move. I did a little extra digging around the patio perimeter yesterday, because I had the time. I’ll get an enormous pile (5 yards) of gravel in the driveway today, but I’ll only be able to move precious little of it to the patio area, as the retaining wall needs to go in first, and lower than the rest of the patio. The wall blocks don’t come until Friday, so the project’ll be mostly idle Thursday, too. I could have timed my orders better, yes, but I’m new here. I was paralyzed by the order process, worried that I’d get the wrong amounts of the wrong things, and just be left in a monumental lurch. Alas, it was time to shit or get off the pot, so I ran the numbers eight more times and made the call. I’ll definitely send pictures when my lawn and driveway have become a staging area for most of the hardscape materials in the Pacific Northwest. No shortages there – apparently nobody wipes their ass with cement blocks anymore. We’ve gotten so soft.

I did take the plate compactor on a trial run yesterday, and it was a very loud bunch of fun.

………

The Woman in White is off to a good start. It’s a page turner – just the sort of thing I could use right now. A few suggestions have come in from reader/commenter/friend Marica, including Pilgrim’s Progress. I read that book about ten years ago and remember it as poorly as I remember anything else, so maybe a second go ’round is in order.

………

Not a good post, I know. However hard the guv may be trying to keep my spirits up, he cannot. Even after receiving some very good news yesterday, my own curve is rather flat. This is, of course, the ebb and the flow, the natural course of things. I’ve put an awful lot of energy into an awful lot of things over the last couple of months, and I think I’m in an involuntary regroup and recharge phase of my own recovery.

Dig for the cure, Comrade Citizen!