The Perfect Vision Plague Diaries #6

With Monday comes the tedium

Notes on the general state of the neighborhood, the family, and the masses in the time of the virus

IMG_3217 (2)
Crowds? what crowds?

Today’s numbers:

    • 1,040 confirmed cases (up 106 from yesterday)
    • 75 confirmed deaths (up 1 from yesterday)

The care center in Kirkland where this whole thing kicked off for us has leveled off in terms of body count. For the first couple of weeks, nearly all of the new fatalities came from that one place, but it’s been a few days since the last one. Hopefully the worst is over for them. It must be frightening to be there, elderly and not wanting this to be the way your number is delivered. I can’t imagine. I suppose some are ready, and some are not, just like always.

Quarantine weekend was (dare I be so droll?) nice. I hesitate to over-sentimentalize things, but it would be shallow of me to ignore the fact that we have good neighbors. I don’t want to say “community” because I think that word is somewhat weaponized – a virtue grenade lobbed from dubious moral high ground. “I love this community,” “the strength of our community is…” etc. It’s nice, but I think a little vapid, and generally meant to cast a wider net than the waters being fished really call for. Neighbors, on the other hand, yes. And we have good ones. To ride the cliché of looking for the good in all this strangeness, our neighbor-cluster has been a very bright spot. We gather nightly (the weather’s turning, though, so watch out) in camp chairs, with drinks ranging from scotch to coffee to last night’s appearance of a Bloody Mary. The talk is good and fun, with nobody harping on political/governmental issues, no opinion-slinging about whether we’re over- or under-reacting to this whole thing (as a community, haha). Just the usual jokes about social distancing and the obligatory prediction of the coming lockdown. It seems to be a foregone conclusion in the minds of most that Seattle ‘s shelter-in-place order is just a Governor’s presser away (that’s a very short article that uses the term “shelter-in-place” six (6!) times) I don’t know. I don’t care. Speculation wears me down faster than a belt sander, so I just refuse to do it (with the exception of maintaining my very general prediction that this’ll be over sooner than we think. But that’s saying very little, and committing to less). Outside of our 5:00 happy hour at the end of the dead-end road, we (the neighbors) see plenty of each other out in the yards now that we’re all home. No soccer games or swim meets, no piano recitals, no fund raisers. Just everybody, here. The gardens are being refreshed, the daffodils are being complimented, the decks are being washed, and indeed (don’t get off the cliché wagon yet, Andy) the sounds of the kids playing their ridiculous and fluid-ruled games are ever present.

………

Last week I met a friend for a walk. This is Alki beach. It’s been in the news lately, an example of the people’s refusal to take the plague seriously. This beach (and all of Seattle’s more popular park and public spaces) has been very, very crowded since the social distancing mandates, school closures, and working from home began. But guys, the weather has been amazing:

Alki Weed
Last Thursday at Alki.

The beach smelled like weed and Thursday.  In other words, unremarkable. It was more crowded than the picture shows, and the crowding has increased daily since then. My opinions are meaningless, but it is the opinion of the general public (the part that is generally not going to the beach, anyway) that this is very irresponsible and dangerous. So that is what all of the talk is about now – the crowded parks and what our community of armchair epidemiologists have learned from the internet about how a virus spreads in the open air. I begrudge them nothing, neither the beachgoers (I was there myself!) nor the ersatz experts. Everything that everyone is doing and saying today is not a concern for the present, but a bet on the future, seeding the narrative in the hopes that when the end of this thing arrives, their opinions will be awash in the glow of righteous hindsight, that soothing balm that only comes by chance, and yet whose truth is always claimed by the accidental victors. An opinion made today is nothing but a desire to say “see, I was right” tomorrow. And it’s a safe bet, because when we lose we are not expected to say “see, I was wrong.”

………

The short version is simply that, after a weekend hiatus here at the PVPD, not much has changed. We’re all still healthy and haven’t tried to kill each other yet. I threw my back out moving a giant stone birdbath thing – broke one shovel that I had comically praised for its longevity not 30 minutes prior, and eventually used a floor jack to make the bigger moves. I have enough time on my hands to try a handful of different strange pain remedies, none of which are nearly as effective as ibuprofen and a little careful stretching (he said, in the absence of any prescription narcotics). CBD oil I think is the biggest sham going these days, but that doesn’t stop me from using it. This morning I picked up the boy’s new homework packet for the week, and dropped off the old one, feeling very much like we accomplished a great deal and had a successful week of homeschooling.

Stone Dead
The stone what broke me, in its final resting place. Army gnome for scale.

Your “Homeless in Coronafornia” update for today:

We are fine, just waiting on our checks…
There was a resonating collective sigh of relief when the government pulled that out.
It’s like getting paid for a snowday

I’m not sure “the government” has quite put that one together yet. I may be wrong, but he shouldn’t get ahead of himself. Maybe.

 

— Stay off the beach, comrade citizen!—

The Perfect Vision Plague Diaries #4

You’re just smearing it around!

Notes on the general state of the neighborhood, the family, and the masses in the time of the virus.

Yesterday’s Numbers:

  • 562 confirmed cases (up 44 from yesterday)
  • 56 confirmed deaths (up 10 from yesterday)

Ten. Ouch.

I wanted to start things a little differently this morning, by writing (or at least starting on) a poem. Something touching on all this madness. But the only things that come to mind are snarky or dark, and that’s too cheap for poetry. I’ll have to keep trying – to steer the eyes and ears and thoughts towards the beauty that settles humbly in the murk and muck.

Walking at Lincoln Park last night was a good way to lean in that direction.

The sky was clear and bright, and the sun was out. There’s a strange perfection to weather sometimes, such that my layering of a sweatshirt under a wool coat wasn’t too warm, but I would have been comfortable in my shirtsleeves (if I may use archaic language in an appeal to much older readers and bibliophiles). For some reason “shirtsleeves” brings Tolstoy to mind, but it sounds too English, so I’m probably thinking more of Dickens. It’s an odd word that seems to refer to some kind of a reverse vest. There were more people out than would normally have been at 6:30 on a weekday evening, even with such wonderful weather.

Park People

That’s a view looking mostly North, from near the Fauntleroy Ferry dock that sits at the South end of the park. Those are the Olympic mountains in the distance. We live across the street from there, East by a block or so, and can walk down to the spot where that picture was taken in about 5 minutes. I’ve done it a hundred times, and still I take pictures like I’ve never been there before. It’s too right:

Ferry
Southwest view, Fauntleroy dock out of the frame to the left.

Local statutes mandate that all citizens stockpile not toilet paper, but photos of the ferry on its journey to/from Vashon Island or Southworth, never centered, with an implication of sunset. Driftwood is not required in the composition, but the Stasi like to see it, so…

As you walk back from the North end of the Park the view shifts to this:

Fibonacci

If you look closely, you can see Fibonacci on a stand-up paddleboard, saying “see?”

I don’t know if this section of the Puget Sound has a particular name. Elliott Bay is part of the same water, but it’s North of West Seattle, and Lincoln Park is on the Southwest part of that. From here we look West to the aforementioned Vashon Island and Southworth, but also the much smaller Blake Island, where I have never yet been. We get Orcas and submarines and Gray whales and aircraft carriers through these waters, and now at least one of Washington’s representatives in Congress is asking for a US Navy hospital ship to sail through here and drop anchor in Elliott Bay. The hospital ships are not equipped for infectious diseases, but can be used to house and treat trauma patients, freeing up space in the local hospitals for Coronavirus cases.

Oh yeah, Coronavirus. I almost forgot there was a plague on. Not that we needed one in order to realize that no matter what you’re doing, there’s always someone there to tell you it’s wrong. 

Like all human crises throughout history, COVID-19 has its deniers. I don’t mean people who deny the Coronavirus is real, though I have no doubt those people are out there. The people I’m talking about are every bit as confident in their own twisted truth as the flat-Earthers or the Holocaust deniers, but they are a far greater threat to the safety and cohesion of society and to the future of human kind. They are the …

Sanitizer Deniers

I really don’t understand this any more than I understand hoarding toilet paper. People are balking at hand sanitizer and denouncing it vehemently. It’s become a favorite piece  in the big game of armchair-expert-in-a-crisis nonchalance.  They can’t stop weighing in on its uselessness, and even go so far as to say it makes things worse. I could appeal to authority, say that my OB/GYN cousin uses it and makes her kids use it, and that my wife’s married friends – one an OB and the other a vascular surgeon – are using it and say it’s a good idea, but I know there will be doctors out there who say don’t bother with it, so the whole thing is a wash (haha). And I don’t care, anyway. I’m not carrying water for team hand sanitizer, I’m just trying not to get sick. But FWIW, I’m willing to bet they use it on the hospital ships.

………

It wouldn’t kill us to talk about the bright side a bit, right? The West Seattle Blog reports a positive note from the Southwest Precinct of the Seattle Police Department:

Emphasis Patrols have been modified, or canceled, due to the current lack of activity in most of the locations.

Crime is down. Homes are burgled far more often during the day than at night. Dare I say it’s another unintended consequence of the dual-income family model? I wonder how those home invasion numbers have changed as the domestic dynamic has evolved? There would be more factors to consider, of course, but still. For our purposes today, it’s enough to note that an awful lot of homes that are usually empty are now occupied full time, so the petty crooks don’t have as many soft targets. Chalk one up for the low-level quarantine!

I suppose there are a lot of unoccupied shops/stores of various types out there. A bunch of merchandise that isn’t being watched very carefully. Criminals might be feeling like there’s some opportunity for them. Maybe if this thing goes a little too long we’ll start seeing broken windows, but I would guess that most of the smaller businesses at least would be doing something to secure their merchandise off-site. I think I’ll take a walk through The Junction to see how things look. I know that bookstores are closing, but that’s no big opportunity for the thugs. The criminals are only literate in Hollywood.

Speaking of Hollywood, here’s your “Homeless in Coronafornia” update for today, courtesy of my brother:

Oh everyone is gone
They all ran inside
Its creepy
Seriously though its quiet

He’s getting by, just like the rest of us.

—Don’t use the hand sanitizer, comrade citizen!—