The PVP Diaries #48

Now Lanser stood up. “I told you I’m very tired, sir. I must have some sleep. Please co-operate with us for the good of all.” When Mayor Orden made no reply, “For the good of all,” Lanser repeated. “Will you?”

Orden said, “This is a little town. I don’t know. The people are confused and so am I.”

“But will you try to co-operate?”

Orden Shook his head. “I don’t know. When the town makes up its mind what it wants to do, I’ll probably do that.”

– Steinbeck, The Moon is Down

I’m just a guy eating chocolate chip cookies for breakfast.

I know there’s a list of counties in Washington who are now (graciously) permitted (with suprememe benevolence) to apply for the privilege of embarking on phase 2 of reopening their businesses. I am no revolutionary, but I am no idiot, and while neither am I a Constitutional scholar, I don’t think that’s the way it works. I’m pretty sure these people – The People – can hang their shingles and throw open the doors whenever they damn well please, without begging for permission from those elected officials who serve because we allow them to do so. Not the other way around. 

I’m saying nothing new here, of course. Nothing novel (haha). I don’t spend enough time thinking about it to be particularly long-winded or effective in the defense of liberty. I just know what my gut and my eyes and my ears tell me, which is that this whole thing is a parade of garbage that continues without flagging, not because of the extant danger of pervasive disease, but because of the extant disease of pervasive vanity. If a leader somewhere were finally willing to appear small and pedestrian, then that is where you would find a place well-governed. 

But the people are broken, too. And I don’t know which is the chicken and which is the egg. I know many people who are talking about the future and saying that it could be a decade before we’re traveling and taking vacations again. There’s simply nothing in me that can accomodate that level of pining for the worst-case scenario. When I listen to people talking about the state of the Wuhan Flu, there’s an unmistakable note of pleasure, of excitement, in every number they can cite that makes it seem like nothing’s improving. People want to be afraid. Since the beginning of The Great Woe, I’ve flogged this notion so much that it’s going to need a safe word, but the fact is that people choose to target, for some reason, misery as the way to experience an elevated sense of personal importance. 

I think that, for a lot of people, if they hear about a plane crash or an earthquake that happened on the other side of the world, they feel left out. They feel that the victims have gained a notoriety that will never reach them. That’s why we have the trope of “where were you when…” that pops up with every major malady the world has ever known. Assasinations, terrorist attacks, space shuttle explosions. We’re jealous of anyone who gets to enjoy a horror to which we were not invited. Primarily, probably because a tragedy bestows notoriety in the most desirable way possible – the unearned way. When an earthquake hits your city, well, you were just sitting around doing nothing extra, nothing above, nothing that required effort or ingenuity, and suddenly something happened that made you important. Tragedy is the treasure of the terminally unexceptional, sought out and dug up by someone else, and left on the doorstep. 

But here we have the best possible hell – a global one! Nobody is left out. It is literally everyone’s 15 minutes. Except that as the coronavirus sputtered along, the perpetually mediocre and eternally aggrieved masses started to realize, with a rising sense of panic, that they weren’t going to get sick. And neither was anyone in their families. Obviously, some did, but the numbers turned out to be disappointingly low and so full of asterisks and predictable concentrations in nursing homes that this global nightmare was starting to look like a date with fame that was going to leave us sitting alone at a fancy table and repeating to the waiter through stifled sobs that “she’ll be here any minute.”

The only thing we could do with that kind of embarrassment is to close the restaurant. And pretty quickly we closed them all, because that saved us from the shame of having gotten all dressed up only to have gone to the wrong place and sitting there feeling pathetic, while our thrilling disease was off dancing with someone else in the space we left on the floor by reading the invitation wrong.

And it’ll go on (already has), far longer than it should. It’s the only way to manufacture enough unwarranted fear to make us feel important. Worrying over the hell that might yet come is the best possible alternative to acknowledging the one that never did. 

Seek your happiness in joy, Comrade Citizen!

 

 

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!

The PVP Diaries #40

Strung Out

Gitano’s mouth opened for a word, and remained open while his brain sought the word. “I think it was quiet—I think it was nice.”

-Steinbeck, The Red Pony

Update 5-6

I found this handy resource. I’ll be interested in seeing what the totals look like after 2020 is over:

Death Totals
Deaths by State/county

………

You might remember a brief note in my 25th entry, wherein I talked about Seattle’s new “Stay Healthy Streets” program. They closed streets to through traffic in order to give people more freedom to walk without getting too close to each other. Kinda silly and excessive and transparently meaningless, considering you can technically still drive there, you’re just not supposed to unless you’re a resident on the street or your destination is within the zone. And because you remember that, you also remember that I (and countless others) said:

They’re simply not even considering an end to this. And while I’m no doomsayer, no conspiracy theorist, this is precisely the kind of “temporary” measure that finds a way to stick around after it’s supposed to go away.

Now note yesterday’s headline at the SDOT blog:

2020 bike investments to accelerate, including 20 miles of Stay Healthy Streets to become permanent in Seattle

I read a comment from a delivery driver who noted the obvious, which is that the streets are not closed to traffic by this order, but people are walking around on them as if they are. There are a few theories about why the city’s done this. I’m sure some or all of them are at least partly true – even the good ones from the apparent minority who are in favor. In the end it was done for the same reason that everything’s done: the sweet trifecta of 1. saving money (for themselves), in order to 2. get money. And also 3. Votes. Nothing is done by any politician anywhere if he or she doesn’t think it’ll secure more votes.

Not that I care a heck of a lot, but a man eventually gets to feeling like he’s shrugged off one too many things. Inner peace gained by submission is an illusion. I guess I’ll make sure to vote.

………

I’m a morning person if anything. Not that I relish it – if you see me at a time that might be considered “early,” it’s perfectly ok if you don’t say good morning. And feel free to not turn on any lights if you don’t need to. But I would rather get up early to get things done than stay up late. After enough attempts at both, I know I am a morning writer far more than a night time one. I am becoming older and more interested in getting ahead of things, rather than dragging them out past their usefulness. Things grow too thin in the twilight.

I always want to spell that “twighlight.”

………

The Patio:

May 6
May 6

May 7
May 7

As I get closer to consequence, I consult my brother more and more. He builds houses in Massachusetts and could sneeze a patio better than I could build one. Don’t mind the string – I just moved it around a bit to make sure I was deep enough across the entire dig. Haven’t marked the actual boundaries yet. Then I went and watched this:

“it’s also the tool that will label you either a pro or a beginner, about as quickly, and about as clearly, as any other tool that you might pick up and try to use.”

My base material doesn’t get here until Wednesday, so I have time to practice. (H/T Gerard, who is the reason I know The Essential Craftsman exists, from a riveting post some time ago wherein Scott Wadsworth taught me the Truth about using ladders.)

………

Your “Homeless in Coronafornia” update for today:

“It’s exactly the same as always, hahaha.”

There wasn’t much else. He moves around a lot and is dependent on free wifi spots, so a lot of convesations end pretty abruptly. There’s also a lot of unintended poetry in the way the abbreviated communications come out on messenger, if you’re looking for it. This happened just before we spilt for the day:

The governor spoke of things gradually opening but
not church for heaven’s sake
I thought we were protected by the lord
Guess not
It’s like a spiritual facemask
Church

 

Find your poem, Comrade Citizen!

The PVP Diaries #39

Throat officially cleared

 “Having lost her bearings, completely demoralized, Rebeca began eating earth again.”

– Marquez, 100 Years of Solitude

I am not demoralized, nor am I eating earth. Yet. I am only digging it and moving it, feeling sometimes armed not so much with a shovel as with one of poor Prufrock’s coffee spoons. But all the while feeling fine, if occasionally wondering what the dirt tasted like.

Update 5-5

I was up earlier than normal, but had a hard time getting started. Something in my head made me write this line down:

The only place I put my trust
is in things already returned to dust.

I’m not sure what to talk about today. I’m a little tired of my usual shtick, analyzing press releases and pretending to know better. To know anything.

I’m still digging, of course. And because there’s an analogue to every action, it could be said that I am literally flattening the curve:

May 5
May 5

May 6
May 6

As i move downhill (left in the picture) there is less and less to dig. I should be finished this afternoon. I’ll order my 5 yards of gravel for the base today, then finalize my measurements and order the sand, pavers, and wall blocks. I’m borrowing a plate compacter from a friend, and won’t have it until Monday, so no rush. Wire for the lights is already coming, but this particular household’s Committee of Ornamental Lighting Solutions has not yet met over the choice of the lights themselves. I suppose you could say that the project is being accomplished with a phased approach, with input from a diverse group of (two, sometimes conflicting) voices, and based upon an ever-shifting influx of data. In buckets.

Ok, I decided that the best thing I could do for myself this morning was to turn away for a moment and put together a one donut poem. It’s my first poem in weeks  months, and the right kind of excavation for my compacted soul.:

Honest

The easy part is the digging –
the placid silence of the spade slipping
sometimes surgically into earth –
the dirt itself gives a sexual sigh
as it welcomes the stone-honed steel
of the shovel between its sacred grains.

The easy part is the digging –
the straight-grained shaft of the handle
sometimes rung by a rock that sends
a shivering quiver into bone after bone
and out the crown of a skull that empties
toward divinity with every chuck and throw.

The easy part is the digging –
the brute sinking of shovel into soil
and the blessed singing of sinew –
the timeless rhythm that never lies
as it separates element from sentiment
and turns movement into monument.

The only place I put my trust
is in things already gone to dust.

 

I don’t usually give myself over to tricks like extended alliteration, but masterwork was not the goal here. The one donut poems are purges, cathartics. Semicolons of the morning, clearing the way for a fresh, independent clause.

………

The boy just came down – his light bounce on the stairs giving away his good mood before he was halfway here. I knew something was coming. It was. It did:

“Dad. I had the best dream ever last night. Quarantine was over, the day before summer vacation, and we could visit other people’s houses. We visited an animal shelter and we got an Abyssinian, and it was so happy, and it had no problem jumping up into our laps.  It held onto your computer cord and said ‘gimme the treats.’ And there was a lot more.”

Now he’s reading:

IMG_3510

We’ve been looking at a Cat Encyclopedia in our very casual run-up to pet ownership, hence the specificity of the Abyssinian. It’s the first one in the book.

………

Your Homeless in Coronafornia” update for today:

As vibrant as ever

I thought maybe that was sarcasm, but his mood was light in the rest of the conversation. He’s generally a pretty positive person. It can be uplifting.

………