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Living in Society Social Commentary Writing

Reading in 2020

French Breakfast Radishes

If daily life took its course without our engagement we would be reading more words and fewer books.

With the rise of social media a lot more words are being published and many readers get “glued to their phones” as they take in all the words and video they can within a circle of friends and followers.

Long form reading in books is an essential part of staying informed. It took a conscious effort to stop my entropic slide to reading no books each year to include long-form reading in daily life. Ironically this began by using the social media tool Goodreads. By setting a low annual goal of 16 books per year in 2018 I surpassed it and have increased my book reading every year since. In the first five months of 2020 I read 26 books.

Reading short pieces, newspaper and magazine articles, and social media posts is an important part of securing new information about our lives in society. At the same time erosion of book reading leaves us the less.

The current book on my night stand is Save the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl who spent ten years as editor in chief of Gourmet magazine. An intellectual masterwork? No. I found Reichl’s reference to William Carlos Williams annoying, yet the pace is quick, the chapters short, and the language a straightforward narrative. It’s how a person with a specific experience wrote autobiography. The more experiences of writing styles we have, the better writers we can be. If you forced me to put this book in a category, it is summer reading and a part of a broader universe of reading material.

We seek in reading, in any format, an understanding of the person behind the writing. When I review my social media feeds, some people I know personally and have done things with. Others I know by their writing. There’s a reason it’s called “social media.” There are people behind the posts or at least that’s what we hope.

That is less true of book reading where the author may be present in every page yet strive to minimize their personality or presence in the words. Can a book stand separately from it’s creator as a work of art? I don’t see how it’s possible to separate the work from the author’s social context. In that regard, historians are the worst. There is an ideology of history writing and to attempt to hide or diminish it is a disservice to the reader (Oscar Handlin). There is a politics and poetry of writing history. There are books on those subjects. It is possible, and I’d argue necessary, to both adore historians (Robert Caro) and despise them (Doris Kearns Goodwin) that has nothing to do with the information presented on a book’s pages.

I look at reading the way I view being a food consumer: I seek to know the face of the farmer and in the case of reading, the face of the author. That’s true of any reading I do. I am more likely to trust, read and comment on something an acquaintance posts because we physically met and I’ve followed them in social media long enough to understand something about their social context. The same is true for writers in mass media. I want to know who they are and what their history is rather than read a single sensational story. As a reader and human, I’m in it for the broader picture.

The rise of artificial intelligence is producing computer generated writing. I think we need to inoculate ourselves against this fake writing by spending time learning about authors and reading their published work. As the noted philosopher Taylor Swift wrote, “the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake.” We need to be able to shake them off. That requires us to be informed readers.

If we are going to read more at least some part of our lives should be engaging the authors of those words. Obviously it’s less possible for dead writers. Yet we are living now and should be spending part of our time reading full-length books both as a supplement to short form reading and as escape from it. Entropic decline in long form reading is something we must address in our lives. That is, unless we accept the mutation of humans will eventually include genes for mobile phone adaption.

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Kitchen Garden Living in Society Social Commentary Writing

News, Retreat, Action

Home Garden May 30, 2020

When the news goes to hell, like it did on Friday, I retreat.

In an on line chat about poetry I wrote a follower, “Hope things are going better in Canada than they are here.”

“They are, very much so here in B.C.,” he responded. “I’m not a flag waver type but this present moment produces a real sense of refuge.”

On Friday moving to Canada was not out of the question.

To where did I retreat? I worked outdoors from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday. I harvested grass clippings for mulch, put in the seventh garden plot, and called initial garden planting done.

I picked kale and delivered it to one of the library workers. Our public library remains closed because of the coronavirus pandemic yet they continue to run limited operations behind locked doors. Next week they begin curb side materials pickup as they determine how best to reopen. The local newspaper featured a photograph of the librarian wearing a mask in from of the building. Our library is the most obvious local indicator of the progress of the pandemic and economic recovery.

Once again, a video shared in social media — the May 25 murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis — sparked demonstrations and violence broke out in cities around the United States. Coverage dominated the news, eclipsing every other story, including the coronavirus pandemic which has now resulted in more than 100,000 U.S. deaths according to official statistics. It is a sign of the times I didn’t hear of Saturday’s demonstrations in the county seat, or in nearby Cedar Rapids until after working in the garden. There were no demonstrations where I live.

The thing about a retreat is it has a fixed beginning and end point, leaving us with the question what do we do next? It’s not complicated.

Above everything else, addressing the lack of leadership in our current government is a priority. That means voting the Republicans out of office in the 2020 and 2022 election cycles. It is difficult to see how any substantial change will be possible, in any area of society, until that is done. I’d much rather be writing about the climate crisis, income inequality, and social justice. For that to have meaning, we need leadership to set different priorities and move the country toward solutions. We can point out solutions to the climate crisis and income inequality, and that black lives matter all we want. To make a difference, our only hope is to change our government.

My last paycheck from a job was in April after retiring from the home, farm and auto supply store. Our expenses came down dramatically during the pandemic so there was money left from our pensions to pay down debt and donate to political campaigns. We’ll be doing more of that. Better than that will be to develop a positive message about who we are as Iowans and as Americans and to share that broadly. Living with a demagogue as president has been frustrating. We have to believe our best days are ahead of us and take action to work toward that end.

Categories
Living in Society Social Commentary Writing

A Death During the Pandemic

Sunrise May 27, 2020

No one wants to die early of COVID-19. This morning Johns Hopkins University reported there have been 1.7 million diagnoses of the disease in the United States and more than 100,000 people died because of it in less than four months.

May the souls of the departed rest in peace. May their families and friends find comfort as we go on with our lives.

I participate in TestIowa, the State of Iowa’s on line COVID-19 testing program. On Monday I was approved for testing and made an appointment at a drive-through test site 11 miles from home. Yesterday I arrived early for my appointment and there was no waiting. The site was well organized with lots of staff, including a half dozen uniformed Iowa National Guard soldiers directing traffic and maintaining security. The site could handle lot more tests than they were. The deep nasal swab used to take a culture was uncomfortable yet tolerable. The results should be posted to my on line portal by Saturday. This post is not about me.

I’m thinking about George Floyd who died after a Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck while he was being arrested. In a time of ubiquitous cameras and recorders the incident was captured on video multiple times and posted on the internet. It rightly provoked outrage. Four police officers were fired after Floyd’s death yet that shouldn’t be the end of it. Why weren’t they arrested? We know the answer. There was no justice for George Floyd. He did not deserve to die.

While passing the milestone of 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus garnered attention yesterday we cannot forget the systemic racism that permeates our culture. Americans are not free unless all of us are free. The death of another black man in the hands of police is evidence we are bound to racism that shows itself only rarely. Its roots run much deeper.

How do we address that? I don’t know but unless we recognize racism for what it is in our lives there will be no addressing it. We have to do more than react when another black man dies. That death tally is not being closely followed yet it is as important and more enduring than the coronavirus.

May George Floyd rest in peace.

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Living in Society Social Commentary Writing

Poetry for a Life

Service Flags

Best wishes on Memorial Day from this veteran who made it home. As Mary Chapin Carpenter says on her series of songs from home, “Stay well, be peaceful, be mighty.”

I’ve written what I will about Memorial Day. Some of those words can be read here, here and here. I’ve soured on the American celebration of the spring holiday yet one thing I’ve learned is the death of our soldiers in combat is no abstraction. May they rest in peace.

Iowa is one of 24 U.S. states with uncontrolled coronavirus spread. That alone is reason to stay home, read, write, cook, clean and weed the garden. At some point we’ll get caught up with those homebody tasks and venture out of this pandemic pattern, but not yet.

For vegetable gardeners Memorial Day marks the end of spring planting. At the farm we are taking next week off from starting new seeds. The following week we’ll start the fall crop. In between rain showers I hope to get the cucumbers in — the last of my vegetable plots — and weed, weed, weed.

During a rainstorm I reviewed the books on the Reading List tab of this blog. I’m not reading enough poetry as poems comprise only 7.1 percent of listed books.

7.1 percent! I can’t get over that. I want to do better so I asked twitter: “I want to read more poetry. Which author would you recommend?”

The recommendations were pretty good.

When I received a payroll bonus from my part time job in high school I went downtown and bought two books of poetry at the M.L. Parker Department Store: The Complete Poems of Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg’s Complete Poems. I didn’t really understand poetry and still have my failings, but it felt important to mark the beginning of my nascent home library with something other than young adult books.

Over the years I’ve developed other favorite poets. Of those well-known, my favorites are William Carlos Williams and Vachel Lindsay. I also favor Charles Bukowski, Wisława Szymborska, Lucia Perillo, Adrienne Rich, Gary Snyder. Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Seamus Heaney. Of the classics I enjoy Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare but could never get myself to read Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queen, although feeling like I should have.

In response to my Twitter query our daughter recommended atticus so I signed up for the newsletter and followed him on Twitter. I’ll be looking for an opportunity to read The Truth about Magic: Poems.

Recommended by a follower in the UNESCO City of Literature are Amy Woolard and Jeremy Paden. Their books Neck of the Woods (Woolard) and Broken Tulips (Paden) are available so I’ll start with them when I can get my hands on a copy.

Another I’d not read is Mary Oliver, recommended by an Iowa farmer. I studied Oliver in response to the tweet and will obtain a copy of American Primitive for which she won the Pulitzer Prize. It is curious Oliver worked at the Edna St. Vincent Millay home for Millay’s sister. Millay was another recommended poet whose Collected Poems was already on my shelf. I’m building a pile of poetry on the dresser in the bedroom.

Emily Dickinson and Ted Hughes were recommended by a follower and fellow gardener in Canada. I pulled down copies of Poetry Is and Crow by Hughes and The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by Thomas H. Johnson. Punctuation editing is an issue with works by Dickinson as we know. Hopefully Johnson’s edition will serve.

A local friend who lives part of the year in Italy recommended W.S. Merwin’s Garden Time. I will locate a copy and start reading Writings to an Unfinished Accompaniment which was already on my shelves.

Richard Eberhart of Austin, Minn. was recommended by another Midwesterner. On my shelves, rescued from a Goodwill Store in 1994, was a copy of the New Directions Paperbook edition of Selected Poems 1930-1965, which I am reading now. The iconography of these poems is very familiar.

If Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning of summer, 2020 will be the summer of poetry in a pandemic.

Categories
Living in Society Social Commentary Work Life Writing

New Chances after a Pandemic

Apple blossoms ready for pollination.

It has been two months since the Iowa State Hygienic Laboratory in Coralville reported the first positive test results for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

We look forward to returning to a semblance of our pre-pandemic lives. We also know our lives won’t be the same as the pandemic could continue until there is a cure a year or two from now.

I could have continued to work at the home, farm and auto supply store. Because of my age I chose a voluntary COVID-19 leave of absence, then retired after the first thirty days ended. Not everyone has these choices.

One hopes a better society emerges from the chaos the virus and its inseparable economic depression have wrought. Our president’s reaction to the pandemic cost us the strong economy he inherited and caused preventable mass death. It is delusional to believe informed people will accept his work and re-elect him for another four years. We have to work to make sure someone else, presumably Joe Biden, is elected to stop the destruction caused by the current response to the pandemic.

There is also more to life than politics.

In a series of posts I plan to write about the worklife I have known and how it may change after the pandemic. There is a clear delineation of my personal work timeline into several periods.

When I began outside work in grade school as a newspaper carrier there were expectations of knowing what types of jobs were available and then securing them. After college graduation the workplace had changed, offering few positions in which I found interest. This led to frustration and then entering the military.

After returning from overseas I went to graduate school. When finished I found even less desirable opportunity than five years previously. When I eventually found work in the transportation and logistics field it was a compromise between what I wanted to do and producing enough income to support our young family. It was never the best, but it accomplished a degree of financial security.

When I took early retirement in 2009 I wasn’t sure what the future would hold. I used part of our retirement savings and entered a series of low-paying jobs that helped pay bills but did little else to advance us financially. I’ve written often about this and hope to bring a new perspective to it. During and after the pandemic there will be another phase of worklife. In some ways it is a journey home to being the person I was when this all began.

The president and governor say it’s time to reopen the economy and our lives. From my perch in Big Grove Township the economy never fully closed and the first wave of the pandemic is not finished. To understand how we can restructure our lives in society we must understand from where we are coming. That’s the hope of the next series of posts.

Categories
Home Life Living in Society Social Commentary

Pandemic Turning Point – What’s Next?

Lilacs in bloom.

Friday J.C. Penney filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, another victim of the coronavirus pandemic.

To say I disliked the in-store experience is an understatement. To say how much I loved the on-line experience is impossible. They are a great alternative to Amazon where we can find affordable attire. Fingers crossed they come out of bankruptcy.

What will a retail experience look like on the other side of COVID-19? I don’t think anyone knows.

I’m reading another Obama administration memoir, this one by Ben Rhodes. I also read Samantha Power, David Plouffe, Jill Biden and Michelle Obama. On the bookshelf waiting is Susan Rice… I’m just passing time though, until the big guy’s book is finished and released.

It’s hard to believe the Obama administration existed at all in the age of Republican control. It’s like an Arthurian legend we lived through except now it is transformed into myth. So much so it’s easy to believe it never happened. It did happen and the memoirs serve to remind us of another possibility than the one dominated by a needy president.

I stopped and stood outside the garage breathing the fragrance of lilacs. They are close to full bloom and won’t last much longer. It is difficult to stop and experience flowers yet we must. A lot depends on the fragrance of lilacs.

I participated in a Zoom conference with friends yesterday afternoon. We are on the last mile of cable with our internet provider and the connection is sometimes inconsistent. After being dropped five times during the call I gave up. It was good to see everyone again, even if intermittently.

Life on the other side of COVID-19 will be different. For me, it precipitated full retirement and that change alone is big. There’s more though, and not just about one person’s experience of the pandemic. If anything, we are getting used to living with less. That should be good for us, and good for society. I’m confident J.C. Penney will try to adapt to the new reality. If they don’t, the world will be the less.

Categories
Home Life Living in Society Social Commentary

Living with COVID-19

Supermoon viewed through the atmosphere, May 7, 2020.

I participated in a United Parcel Service webinar about challenges posed to supply chains by the coronavirus pandemic.

Rich Hutchinson of Boston Consulting Group presented an overview of our response to the pandemic that made plain, clear sense. He used three Fs — Flatten, Fight and Future — to frame his discussion.

We read and see a lot of information about the pandemic. In Iowa we fixate on daily reported number of cases and deaths. We need a break from that. The take away from Hutchinson’s analysis was as global corporations and mid to large size businesses use the pandemic to re-engineer their approach to supply chain and how they operate their businesses, regular people should be doing the same.

We understand what flattening the curve means, the first F. By reducing spread of COVID-19 we take the peak load off the bell curve of hospital bed usage and ventilator deployment so our health care system can handle the pandemic. In Iowa we began flattening the curve eight weeks ago with the governor’s March 9 proclamation of a disaster emergency due to COVID-19. Thus far the health care system has been able to handle the caseload. Hutchinson expected this phase of the pandemic to last several months with regional variations depending upon the extent of community spread of the disease.

Recent surveys show most people are not ready to end sheltering at home and restriction of business operations, although the president and the Iowa governor favor easing restrictions now. Governor Kim Reynolds issued new orders to ease restrictions yesterday. Whether we agree or disagree with elected officials’ approach, at some point people have to do more than shelter at home and shop on line or in limited trips to retail establishments that remain open. When the flatten the curve stage of the pandemic is over, COVID-19 will persist into the next phase. To cope with it, new approaches to what we previously took for granted about social interaction must be developed and adopted.

The second F, fight COVID-19, is not much discussed, but needs to be. Fighting the pandemic is expected to be book ended by an end to the first phase (i.e. the curve has been flattened) and development and implementation of either a cure or herd immunity. Policy implemented during the flatten the curve phase continues but will be relaxed. It could get ugly. Cases of COVID-19 continue to exist and spread during the fight phase, including additional significant outbreaks. The expectation is this phase will last another 12-24 months until there is a cure. This is the scariest part of the pandemic because as severe restrictions on business and social interaction are relaxed, identification of cases of COVID-19 and deaths are expected to continue in our daily reporting.

The most important phase is our future, the final F. I’m concerned about what the future will look like. My spouse retired last year and I retired last month because of risk of COVID-19 exposure. It seems likely my consumer behavior will change and be more limited than it was last year. With retirement this would happen without COVID-19. Society is not in a place where it makes sense for our political leaders to tell us “the economy is opening.” Nor would the advice President George W. Bush gave as we were coming out of the recession, “to go shopping,” make sense. I empathize with small business owners like cosmetologists, nail salon operators, and barbers who are itching to get back to work and generate operating income. At a minimum we need to deal with the pandemic for at least another couple of years and accommodate new behavior to protect us from the disease. How will businesses create needed changes in light of an extended pandemic? Our path forward is unclear at this writing.

If the question is whether workers will offer themselves as human sacrifice on the altar of late stage capitalism, Americans seem unlikely to do that. That’s not who we are. We expect more from our political leaders than they have given. The vacuum of leadership at the top — the president, the legislative branch of the federal government, and the Iowa governor — created a disconnect between corporations which can lobby government and people like me who lack such standing and may be forced to return to society beyond its digital aspects. My bottom line is no one is providing us with the type of information we need to make it to the new future us. That is as much a problem as the pandemic itself.

The first step in developing a future, post-pandemic life is recognizing our current location in the process. For a newly retired person it is easier to develop a future life than for those in their prime earning years. Our lives depended on so many beliefs and assumptions which have now been scrambled. If nothing else, Americans are a resilient people and we’ll figure it out together. Here’s hoping.

Categories
Living in Society Social Commentary

Meditation on the Coronavirus Pandemic

Fresh arugula from our garden.

“PPE is the scariest part,” an emergency room physician said during a conference call yesterday.

They wear an N95 mask until it wears out. They use one isolation gown per shift, introducing a risk that COVID-19 is transmitted from patient to patient by attending medical staff.

It is unbelievable that in the United States, during a pandemic, medical staff in a local hospital cannot get adequate personal protective equipment.

Where are our priorities?

I understand “flattening the curve.” It was an easy decision for the two of us to stay home as soon as the president and governor called for us to do so. If we don’t get sick, more hospital beds, ICU units, and ventilators are available for others. It’s not a long-term solution to the pandemic but it prevents hospitals from becoming swamped with patients, especially if more people do it.

As pensioners our lives are financially predictable and likely better for having to leave the property less often. The coronavirus pandemic became the tipping point in my career as I phoned the home, farm and auto supply store last Tuesday while on a COVID-19 leave of absence to announce my retirement. While we worked hard to get to this point in our lives, we don’t take it for granted. The challenge is determining how else besides sheltering at home we can contribute to society.

There is politics. We must summon the political will to change our governance to address not only the pandemic with its health and economic disruption, but the climate crisis, environmental degradation, economic injustice, an expensive and inaccessible health care system and more. That means all of us contributing to electing candidates with the backbone to do more than current office holders have. Political change is always an uncertain endeavor yet I feel a wind beginning to fill our sails.

How long should we shelter in place? It’s hard to say because of the opacity of the federal government. In March, administration models for the pandemic indicated between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans would die. The Washington Post yesterday indicated that’s about right. If we don’t address spread of the disease more than we have it could be worse.

The IHME model projects 1,513 Iowa deaths from COVID-19 by Aug. 4. The May 3 report was 188. The same model projects 134,475 U.S. deaths by Aug. 4. It’s no consolation to know the 1918 influenza pandemic was more severe with an estimated 675,000 U.S. deaths over its course.

Yesterday Steve Mnuchin announced the U.S. Treasury Department plans to borrow nearly $3 trillion between April and June to bankroll the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. While the number is bigger than I can imagine it’s no surprise this increase in our national debt was coming. It makes me wonder about the stimulus bills.

These were junk bills, hastily created and influenced too much by lobbyists. They provided little real hope for people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. I’m not impressed that we received an “economic impact payment.” I’m even less impressed that the president wasted resources by sending me his explanation of what’s going on during “this time.” Further into the descent of lesserdom, I’m not sure taking out a large loan was a good idea. The only conclusion I can draw is the politicians don’t know how to help real people.

My intent is not to complain. I present above a positive image of our garden arugula. Planted March 2, it is the best crop I’ve yet grown in terms of quality and quantity. Salads, pasta dishes, and arugula pesto are in process before this patch is finished. I have another batch of seedlings growing in the greenhouse for the next wave. Typical of these times, the best work we do is on our own. That’s not good enough to get ourselves out of the societal pickle we’re in. We will be stronger if we can come together in building a better future after the pandemic.

Yesterday a fight broke out near a liquor store in India as the government lifted stay at home restrictions. There is also pent up demand to do things here. My prediction is when the U.S. opens up, and people believe it is safe to return to normal, tattoo artists will be very busy.

Categories
Home Life Living in Society Social Commentary

Cold and Windy Spring Day

Portable Greenhouse

Tuesday was the last time I started the automobiles.

I plan a drive in each of them later today to make sure the batteries don’t drain. With gasoline selling for $1.259 per gallon I’ll don a protective mask and gloves and fill the one I missed while out to buy groceries.

It’s a maintenance mode of living as we wait out the coronavirus pandemic.

Strong gusts of wind had me bring the greenhouse seedlings into the garage yesterday afternoon. If it did blow over, I didn’t want to lose the work done since February. It’s still standing this morning.

Overnight ambient temperature dropped below freezing, so when I return the plants to their shelves after sunrise I’m going to run a space heater out to warm them. The forecast is ambient temperatures around 50 degrees after noon. The sun should take over warming by then.

The death count in Iowa due to COVID-19 was 29 yesterday. It’s not as bad as in New York where they are digging mass graves, running out of morgue space, and recruiting mortuary workers and out of state funeral directors to help with the volume of work as bodies pile up. Projections in Iowa are there will be plenty of mortuary workers to handle the expected 565 COVID-19 deaths projected by Aug. 4.

The pandemic is real and people who own and operate small businesses are getting antsy. Under normal circumstances a small business owner is eligible for unemployment payments only if they pay in for themselves or their employees. Most sole proprietorship operators don’t.

There is discussion in the national media about stimulus bill funding for small business owner payrolls to make sure they make it to the other side of the pandemic. People I know in this situation, who have applied for unemployment to Iowa Workforce Development, had their claims denied. There is a lack of information about how this provision of the stimulus will work, or whether it even exists. Bottom line is the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been too little, too late.

With non-essential business shut down three weeks ago, small business operators are having trouble making ends meet without their regular cash flow. Some are considering returning to work to resolve the stress. It’s easy to say that’s not a good idea during a period of contagion, but our household is financially stable and as such, mine is a perspective of privilege.

As retired workers, our family relies on our Social Security pensions. Politicians floated the idea of increasing Social Security payments temporarily this week. That doesn’t seem necessary. The main thing about Social Security should be to ensure that the trust fund is solvent now and beyond 2034 when if nothing is done it will begin to run out of money. That’s a worry for another day in light of the pandemic.

After Tuesday’s trip to the wholesale club we are provisioned so we can make it through the end of the pandemic. According to current projections the peak is expected to be April 27 although it will take some time past that date for the CDC or Iowa Department of Public Health to give us an all-clear.

For now, I’m focused on planting the garden. If the pandemic continues into summer, we’ll need the produce.

Categories
Living in Society Social Commentary Writing

Coping in a Pandemic

Onion Starts

We each need something to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

The linked video by Dr. David Price of Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York helped me and it might help you. Click here to view the 57 minute video.

It is a recording of a video conference call in which Dr. Price explains what is COVID-19 and how to protect ourselves while living as reasonable a life as may be possible as we keep our distance from each other. It relieved stress about living away from friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. It explained how we should interact with a small group of family members who live with us. It is presented in a way that is persuasive and practical. Unlike so much of the hyperbole, misstatements, and falsehoods I read and hear elsewhere, Dr. Price is believable when we need that as much as isolation from the virus.

I yearn to get out of the house and trips to the garden and yard are not satisfying enough. Armed with knowledge, I plan to go to work at the home, farm and auto supply store in a couple of hours. I’m not afraid any more. I’m not being foolish. I’ll be keeping my distance from co-workers and customers and washing my hands a lot, trying not to touch my face. Absent a general call to stay in place, either at the federal or state level, we must go on living as best we can.

Social distancing would be more tolerable if the ambient temperature would warm up by about ten degrees. Getting my hands in the soil and doing much needed yard work would take my mind off the coronavirus and self-imposed isolation.

As a writer, I’m used to working in isolation. It gives me strength and an ability to distance myself from social media and unwanted contact with others. I find a chance to think clearly about my life with others and how it will be lived. There cannot be enough of this time.

As the number of cases of COVID-19 rises in the United States we don’t know how the infection will escalate. In New York, the number of cases is doubling about every three days. In Iowa, we have limited testing availability for the coronavirus, so what numbers we have don’t tell the whole story. The first person died of COVID-19 in Iowa yesterday. While tragic, I’m not sure what it means in the context of everything else going on.

My remedy was to view Dr. Price’s video, and use the information in it to go on living. We’re doing the best we can.