“You have to stop reading books with big grammar and metaphors and things. It makes you sound crazy when you talk.”
– My daughter, eating breakfast, listening to me saying something very earnest and wise, no doubt.
THE BIG GRAMMAR:
Hmmm…more small numbers. Somebody must be asleep at the number-churner. When the deaths, as a percentage of positive test results, start to increase, people will no doubt wring their gloved hands mightily, without thinking very hard about it.
In order not to be lumped in by yesterday’s post with some group of science deniers (as if any such thing exists except as rhetorical phlegm to be hocked up in yard signs and tweets), I state unequivocally that science is just fine. It is (he said, urging care) neither good nor bad. It simply does things in order to see what conclusions arise, and whether those conclusions support the guesses that started things off in the first place. Science can take a very careful and precise course towards those conclusions, when care and precision are its goal. But when its goal is to influence populations, it becomes more a matter of, as Melville (through Ishmael) says, “the savour of analogical probability.” The ship of state always seeks the most favorable winds. All science is flawed, because it is performed by humans with agendas. In every case. Full. Effing. Stop.
THE METAPHORS AND THINGS:
It really is quiet in the morning, without much but the distant (and oft mentioned by me) drone of the ferry’s engine with its low, lethargic frequency. It’s the barely elevated breath of a giant, ceaselessly turning some mid-sized planet on his finger like a basketball, perfectly suited to the task. The small rain this morning is doing its thing, too — the gallery having just witnessed a decent shot from a bad lie just off the fairway rough, and issuing its reserved applause. I think my wife’s idea for an early walk yesterday is a winning one, and I ought to start making it habit.
It’s nice that the rain came to beat the pollen down a bit. I’m not a particularly allergic person, but I’ve been taking some Allegra for the past week or so in order to clear up the occasional gunk and stuffiness in the evenings. NO SYMPTOMS, NO VIRUS, I SWEAR IT. The rain’ll be mucking up the cars in the driveway, though, already besotted with the fetid dust as they are. After driving out to the Boy’s school Monday to pick up his homework kit, the awareness of other people’s eyes on my filthy, yellow vehicle motivated me to wash it (there’s something of the Sartre in there, hell is other people, etc). I washed my wife’s too. I dried them quickly in order to give less purchase to the pollen, but they’re both pretty well dusted and tinted already.
They’d be tucked safely away in the two-car garage if I wasn’t such a cliché of tools and workbenches, unused golf clubs and begrudgingly used Christmas lights, bicycles and bins. It’s a choice – I could sell or trash half of what I have in there and barely miss it, then fit both cars with a bit of room to spare. But I’m ok with it the way it is. I do have to suppress a slightly frustrated chuckle when my wife points to some object that we no longer need or want and says “we could just keep it in the garage for now.” I think it is often underestimated how much time is spent in (and in-and-out of) the garage for some of us. How much effort goes into its organization, and how we view it with every bit as much punctility as we view the living room or bedroom; and would much, much rather not just heap things in there willy-nilly. For one half of a marriage, the garage is a place where things can be put in order to be kept out of the way. For the other half, the garage is the way. No harm done, no ill-will here. Just the necessary deviation in cognizance that arises from differently distributed usage. The janitor, after all, sees a garbage can very differently than I do.
At 8:00 Pm every day the ferry does its part in the salute to front-liners, however broadly we’re defining that these days, by letting loose with its horn. (among my many cynical conceits is an unwillingness to deify or lionize humans without rather extreme justification. I can appreciate effort and heightened professional utility, but the “hero” word has long passed the point of critical dilution). Just now the horn is coming from the M/V Cathlamet. It’s a Chinook word (Kathlamet) that means “stone,” which seems a rather obviously ill-given name for a boat. A kind of joke. But I do love that blast for some reason. It’s a sonorous assault that’s bigger than anything in sight, save Mt. Rainier. Three bellicose peals from the west of me, maybe four (I’ll think to count sometime), and then it’s done. By contrast, up the hill to my east, from somewhere behind the trees, comes the clattering racket of some demonstrative loon who is literally (literally) banging a ladle or spoon or similar against a steel pot. As if there is no other avenue of tribute available than the cacophonous blaspheming of a Spring night. There isn’t a nurse or grocery worker in the known world that wants you to subject your neighbors to that abuse in his or her honor. Put it away.
Grandma made masks. My mother in law. She’s a genius with a needle, sewing machine or not. Yesterday a package arrived with 5 masks of varying sizes, actually decent looking and very well put together. Very impressive. She’s made things and repaired things for us over the years – blankets, clothes, curtains, torn and bleeding stuffed animals, etc. It makes me realize what a genuine skill that is, and how much more valuable I would be, as a human being, if I had that ability.
She spent some time in a convent in her youth, but rebelled eventually, and later turned her family against the church. The story goes that one Sunday during mass, the priest said something bad about homosexuality, and she rounded up the kids and walked out. She is now, let us say, ungenerous towards Christianity. It’s slightly out of character for her, because she can be very expansive and open, intellectually, while maintaining her own rigid ideology. Which, frankly, is not a bad way to be described.
Several years ago I went to one of the Catholic churches in town, aiming to reaffirm my faith (or abandon it, if that proved necessary). After a handful of meetings with the leaders of that particular congregation (brilliant people, PhD’s, etc.), and some weighty suggested readings (not to mention one liberating Confession, after which the spiritual lightness I felt was near miracle-level), I couldn’t believe how socially and politically accommodating they were trying to be. I think the secular left is completely unaware of how hard the church is working to appease them. And I know that for a lot of Catholics, that’s a Very Bad Thing. I get that. I don’t know what good any religion is if it doesn’t adhere to some very challenging principles, and I’m always a little saddened when I see rigidity slackened. But give we all must, at times, especially if charity is one of our guiding tenets.
That was unexpected. I wonder if the plague has created many converts. Oh man, now I want to watch The Ten Commandments again.
The rain really picked up as the day went on. Nothing Biblical, or anything, just steady. I was worried that the kids might go without their daily 11:30 recess, but that was a wasted concern. They went out just the same and spent an hour in impervious merrymaking (Merrymaking? Really, great grandpa? Were you in the Civil War, too Andy?). The usual parental concern of “catching your death of cold out there,” and the weird admonitions I remember from childhood about going around with wet hair, have vanished with the omnipresent threat of The Leveler of Civilizations in the air. But of course now if one of them gets the sniffles, we’ll be terrified.
Your “Homeless in Coronafornia” update is scant, if not completely absent. We’ve been missing each other – responding to each other too far apart to be of any use. We used to joke, as kids in the days of telephones ringing on the walls and side tables, about how our dad would pick up the phone and say not “hello,’ but “yellow.” Querying tone, with the accent strongly on the second syllable: “yell- oh?” So yesterday, with several hours between responses, this exchange occurred (he started it):
There, aren’t you glad you came today? Two (semi)grown men in our forties, and that’s what we do. Now go ahead and start your catsup/ketchup debate.
— Make better music, Comrade Citizen! —