November

I have certainly fallen off my posting since the election. I think I was just exhausted physically and emotionally from all of the months of working so hard on encouraging voters to get out and make their voices heard. I continued to greet at the polls on Election Day and the mood was upbeat. Although I expected Biden to win, or at least held out high hopes that he would, I was still nervous going into the evening when the votes started coming in. We did have tacos and flan, so that made me feel somewhat better. 🙂

Of course now we know what a baby Trump is and that he can’t find it within himself to concede even though it is obvious that he will be leaving on Jan. 20. The elation I felt on Election Day has given way to more exhaustion and frustration with the way it has all played out, the people who encourage Trump in his worst instincts, those who value power and influence over what’s true and real, the direction of the country in general…it’s all so unending. Here in Texas, we were disappointed that we didn’t gain more seats in the state and national legislatures and I was shocked that so many people actually voted for Trump again. I don’t get it. We have a lot more work to do, obviously and unfortunately. But on the happy side, we have a female VP, a female of color, and it looks like Biden is making some diverse picks in his Cabinet, even if he still hasn’t been offered the courtesies usually given to an incoming President. Okay, enough on the election. Let’s move on!

Grandkids and cousins Emery and Beck celebrated a shared birthday; she turned 11 and he turned 10. She is super creative, loves to read and write and draw, and is currently the “creative writing” and “jokes and riddles” contributor to the 5th grade newsletter at school. 🙂 She played volleyball this year, loves her family, friends and animals, and knows all the lyrics to the songs from “Hamilton.” I asked her mom “even the curse words?” and she said Emery just pauses on those. 🙂 Beck is likewise very creative, can put together any Legos project in record time, enjoys reading, videogames, and hanging out with his family, has joined an acting program in Tyler and is rehearsing for a show to be held in January. They are both very inquisitive and ask lots of interesting questions, as well as being silly and funny and full of life. We love these two so much!

I got to see Angela Davis speak in a virtual event put on by the SMU Human Rights Council. She was so interesting and all of the students asked great questions. Davis said something to the effect that “the arena of struggle is where you find yourself,” and it seems very fitting.

The Latest

Last year my girls were all on the app Marco Polo, where you can videotape messages to each other but you don’t have to all be present at the same time as you would on a phone call. You can watch the videos whenever you want and record your own message back. I enjoyed it last year but it didn’t seem to last long before they all lost interest. I was kinda sad they quit doing it. 😦 One recent morning I woke up around 6 (early for me), tried to go back to sleep and suddenly around 6:30 my phone started going off over and over. I picked it up and all three of them were sending video after video. Marco Polo is back! So I laid in bed and went through the messages, considering trying to get back to sleep when Sarah sent a video that said, “Mom, we can tell you’re watching so you might as well say hi!” LOL I responded then and we all chatted a bit more. At that point, I decided I was not going back to sleep so I got up and did a few things around the house. I checked the temp and it wasn’t that hot yet so I thought I would walk to the lake and back. It was a pretty morning and there were not too many people out so that was nice for social distancing. I stepped into a field of flowers to take some pix and then later walked down to the water’s edge for some more. Little did I realize that I managed to pick up some chiggers and I am still dealing with the itchiness!

This is as good a day as any to do a little update on the virus and the state of the world. Texas, of course, opened up businesses before we had even seen a decrease in cases so now it’s going wild and spreading like crazy.  The governor, who has been opposed to many restrictions and has been fighting with our county officials who want to be stricter, has finally admitted that things are not as great as he would have liked and made some businesses close back up (bars in particular). Dallas Co. had 572 new cases today.  We’ve had 20,737 total cases in Dallas Co and 353 deaths. The county has us at the highest alert level “stay home, stay safe.”  Of course people are defying that and defying any notion that wearing a mask helps protect themselves and others. Mask wearing has become a political issue and a flashpoint with people threatening each other and getting into shouting matches and fights over whether to wear a mask or not. It’s all so ridiculous.  On the other front, Black Lives Matter marches continued daily and nightly in Dallas. My friend Margie has been going to most of them and keeping us posted via photos and statements on social media. I’m glad to see such a high level of engagement and hope change is coming.

It looks like the rest of the summer will consist of more quarantining and social distancing. If we thought we were going to be able to see family and friends from more than a distance, I think we were wrong. At this point we don’t even know what the new school year will look like.  My niece Brooke in WY has postponed her July wedding till next summer. Many of us have cancelled vacations. It’s a whole new and isolated world.

Meanwhile the Trump administration continues to be inept, unconcerned, inactive, focused on all the wrong things…I don’t like to be a hateful person but I have a lot of hate in my heart for Trump, Pence, McConnell, Graham, and all their minions. If you are reading this 20 years from now, look them all up because I don’t have the energy to spell it out. 🙂

Our days are pretty routine. Rich is making loaves of sourdough bread, which we are enjoying. He also used up the rest of the zucchini from our farm box in some zucchini bread. Yum. We have foregone most of the yard work now that it is so hot but I did plant some flowers in pots today. We actually got in our pool and got a little exercise since it’s too hot to walk very far any more. It’s a shame that we don’t use the pool more so maybe we will start making that a habit. I am knitting a couple of projects, though I keep tearing them out and starting over. LOL

Read:  The Book of Longings, All that You Leave Behind, and Daisy Jones & The Six.  All good but especially loved the last one.

Watched: “Contagion” (oddly prescient and it was kinda spooky to watch) and “Eurovision Song Contest,” Will Ferrell’s latest offering, which was goofy fun and made for a nice night of mindless entertainment. Started the “Perry Mason” series but not sure if I will stick with it. It’s a prequel and he’s a private eye before he became the Raymond Burr attorney character some of us grew up with. Kinda dark. Contemplating whether we want to pay for Disney Plus so we can see “Hamilton” in a few days.

Listened to: New Bob Dylan (not overly impressed even though one reviewer said it was his best in years…) and old Neil Young that he finally released after years of being in his vault (better than Dylan, but I always was a Neil girl), Black Pumas (excellent), Gary Clark Jr (extra excellent).

Growing: a very few tomatoes in pots…think we waited too late and now it’s too hot.

 

June Catch Up

We got our first box from Comeback Creek Farm and have been enjoying most of the fruits and veggies. I say “most” because turnips were included and I had a hard time choking them down even though Rich sautéed them in a very nice sauce. I have had turnip greens before and liked them, including the small pieces of turnips mixed in. But straight up turnips I suppose are not my thing.

Rich has been making use of all the peaches we got from the peach truck.

Sarah called one day and said Miles had a meeting in Dallas and she was coming with him. Could she come see us? Of course I was thrilled! She came to the door and knocked and just stood there, not knowing if we wanted her to come inside. Poor girl. I told her to come in and that we just wouldn’t get too close to one another.  It was the first time we’ve had anyone in the house since mid March and it seemed a little weird. Rich fixed us a nice lunch and we ate “socially distanced” at the longer dining room table where we could spread out and not be in each other’s faces. She had asked me for some old family photos so she can make copies and hang them in her hallway so we had fun looking through old pix.  Miles came to pick her up and was not sure if he should come in the house either. It is certainly a brand new world, isn’t it???  We chatted with him for a few minutes and then he helped Rich open our outdoor umbrella which is super hard for one person to do.  I was really happy to see the kids and it made me feel like maybe life will get back to normal eventually.  I finally finished knitting a scarf I’d been working on for awhile–I belong to a knitting group and we donate them to organizations working with people who are experiencing homelessness. We bought some hanging baskets and plants to put in pots to brighten up our front porch (along with Kali relaxing). And I’ve been enjoying all the mail we’ve been getting!

We haven’t been walking as much because it’s already so hot in the AM but did manage to go a few times around our own neighborhood. It seems like such a hassle and uses a lot of time to drive elsewhere to find something different to see.

 

 

Big Day Out

I have hardly left my house since mid-March when the virus began to spread through Dallas and we were told to stay home. Rich does the grocery shopping and other than taking walks or driving to places to walk, I have maintained my distance. Well, we did go see the kids in Tyler twice, too. 🙂

Saturday we had several errands to run. We had ordered a box of peaches from “The Peach Truck” which comes in from Georgia once a year. They were delicious last year so we were excited to get them again! We drove over to a hardware store parking lot not far from our house, waited in our socially distanced line with masks on, and picked up our box. The young man in the picture below asked if we had had their peaches before. I said yes, we loved them last year! He pointed at us and said, “You know what we call these people??!! Re-peach offenders!” Everyone laughed and it was pretty cute.

From there we had to stop at CVS for Rich to get some prescription eye drops because he is having laser surgery on his eyes Monday and Wednesday.  I sat in the car while he went into the pharmacy only to return saying that they didn’t have his order. The pharmacy tech looked online and apparently the doctor’s office had called it into a different CVS. The tech called that store and they said they hadn’t filled it because they were out. He looked online and gave Rich the number of a different CVS that looked like it had the medication so Rich came back to the car and called. No, they did not have it either. The tech at that store gave him two more to try. We located the closest one, on Lemmon Ave, and thankfully they had it.

Then we stopped at the farmer’s market, again socially distanced and masked…whew, it is such a hassle but we are trying to be careful! Rich decided to get some coffee from a local roaster and we picked up our favorite bread. From there, we dropped off the Get out the Vote postcards I’d finished, and went to Target to pick up a speaker we’d ordered. I had not been in Target or any other big store in months! It felt really weird to me to be there but it was not super busy, surprisingly, since Texas is basically “opened back up” and it was Saturday. We looked around a little bit just to see if we could see anything we wanted but we left otherwise empty-handed. Finally to the CVS on Lemmon to get Rich’s prescription. We were gone almost 3 hours and it felt like I had re-entered the world!

Came home and Rich made us some eggs to go with the fresh bread we toasted.  It was especially good because we had fasted the day before! The peaches are not quite ripe and  you’re supposed to take them out of the box and lay them out till for a couple of days. I remember last year–one day they were not quite ripe and the next day they were suddenly ready to eat! Rich asked me how many peaches I thought we had and I guessed 60. There are actually 78 of them! We will be eating a lot of peaches, making cobblers and jam, and freezing some for later. Yum.

Swiss Ave Historic District

On our most recent walk, we explored the Swiss Ave Historic District. I had been on part of the street once before, block walking for candidates, but Rich had not, and I hadn’t seen the whole area. According to its website, the district, “in Old East Dallas, is a diverse neighborhood containing the finest collection of Early 20th Century residential architecture in the entire Southwest. Established in 1905 by real-estate developer, Robert Munger, it was designated in 1973 as the first historic district in the City of Dallas. It is an official Dallas Landmark District and, in 1974, the entire District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”  One of the historical markers on the street notes that a “muddy country lane” was named Swiss Avenue by Swiss immigrant Henri Boll  in 1857. The street was extended and developed as a part of Munger Place in 1905 by cotton gin manufacturer Munger.  He required that each house had to be worth at least $10,000 and have two stories, but the residents were free to choose whatever architectural style they liked, leading to an interesting, eclectic mix of structures throughout the district.

Swiss Avenue itself is a wide street divided by a tree lined median, with beautiful lawns and huge houses on each side. We enjoyed strolling past and imagining what the insides of these beautiful historic homes looked like, who once lived there, who lives there now, and what stories could be told about the history of each place. When I was younger, I would have loved to have owned a beautiful old house like one of these. Of course I never could have afforded one so big but I do love the charm of old houses of any size. Now I just think I wouldn’t want to deal with the upkeep, though I suppose if you can afford one of these houses, you could afford to pay someone else a living wage to take care of things you didn’t want to mess with.  🙂

We didn’t realize how many streets were part of the historic district so we will have to return another day to see more.

A Little Spot in the Woods

A few nights ago, I took off on one of my walking routes around our neighborhood but I wandered along the woodsy side of a particular street instead of the sidewalk side.  I’d only been this way once or twice but had never noticed the benches near the woods. Upon closer inspection, I spotted various odd items hanging in the trees. I am curious about who might have placed them there!  It’s a residential area so there are houses right across the street and I imagine one of the neighbors is responsible.  A fun little find!

Quarantine Life

A little update for posterity.

Dallas County has had 7904 reported cases of corona virus, second only to Harris County.  There have been 191 deaths in our county.  Texas has confirmed 49,912 cases and 1369 deaths. In the US, as of today, 1.61 million cases have been confirmed (all of these estimates are thought to be low, by the way), and 95,213 deaths have occurred. Worldwide, 5.11 million cases are confirmed and 333,000 deaths. These numbers are mind-boggling to me.  We are fortunate that even though Dallas County has been a hotspot, the hospitals have not been overrun and many people have recovered. Texas is one of those “give me freedom” states in which people are clamoring to get haircuts and massages and go out for drinks, so we have mostly gone back to business as usual with the caveats to wear masks and use social distancing. I am fearful that our numbers will rise as people start ignoring guidelines and assuming that everything is fine. In fact, our numbers have never really started to decline. I was hoping the summer would give us some relief but it appears that we will have to follow our own household guidelines regardless of what the rest of the state is doing.

There is work being done on vaccines and treatments but nothing is definitive yet and it is not expected that we will be in the clear any time soon. There are hopeful signs from the scientific community about the use of blood plasma from recovered patients and fast-tracked work being done on vaccines. Still we have an idiot in the White House who refuses to wear a mask because it makes him look weak and who gets on TV to hawk unproven ideas and medications, while ignoring the medical professionals and scientists who supposedly advise him. He is more concerned about his re-election than anything to do with the health and welfare of the nation he is supposed to be leading.

The economy is a mess, with 38.6 million people applying for unemployment benefits, a 14.7% jobless rate, which is the highest since the Great Depression. Restaurants, small businesses, mom and pop shops and even some retail giants are declaring bankruptcy and going out of business.

People of color are becoming ill in greater numbers due to a combination of many factors. They are often working in service industries that have not shut down even during a health crisis, they often cannot take off work without being paid, they may be affected by additional health issues because of lack of access to nutrition, fair wages, health care and more. Those living in facilities such as nursing homes and prisons are at higher risk because of their close quarters and lack of access to testing and treatment.

We are carrying on. Rich makes a grocery run late at night about every two weeks. Otherwise we rarely go anywhere except a neighborhood walk most days.  I went into the bank the other day because we had a refund check to cash. The doors were locked so the clerk had to come let me in. Everyone was wearing masks but he was not wearing gloves. I was, though!  🙂 I took the cash and put it in an envelope, removed my mask and gloves in the car, and used hand sanitizer. The new normal. Then we stopped at a laundromat and I went in to leave a bunch of kids’ books on one of the tables.  We’re still doing yard work daily, another chore that seems never-ending. I am reading The Book of Longings and it’s interesting. Still knitting a scarf and occasionally working on my “great courses.”  I have not been as dedicated as I should be.  🙂  I’m trying to get grandson Luke’s birthday book finished–I make each of the grandkids a book of pictures from the past year and his is fast approaching. I have a lot of time in my days and yet I don’t seem to get a lot accomplished.

Here are some pix from my a recent neighborhood walk. I call it Spring 2.0–different plants and flowers are blooming!

Recent Fun Stuff

In the mailbox: a card from my volunteer work (where I haven’t yet returned), one from friends in CA, my first book from the gift my girls gave me for Mother’s Day, books I ordered from Powell’s in Portland awhile back and just arrived, survey from the Trump campaign. LOL I take a perverse pleasure in writing my opinions all over these surveys and sending them back. Supporting the struggling USPS, right? Also my friend Bettina came by for a socially distanced visit on my porch. We volunteer together at Center of Hope and she is still working…braver than I!  She messaged me to say there were a bunch of kids’ books there and no one to take them as they are not having clients in the building right now. She asked if I wanted to take them to a laundromat as I have done before. I said “sure!” and we had such a nice visit. I have really missed seeing people in person!

Bonnie texted a few nights ago and asked if we had ever played the card game “Garbage.” I had never heard of it so she sent me an instructional video to watch and asked if we wanted to play with her kids via Zoom. Of course, how could we pass up that opportunity?! We watched the video and it was super easy. We set up the Zoom call, they played with their decks of cards and we played with ours, but played it as one big game. We had a ball and got to chat with the kids while playing. I was so happy Bonnie thought of it and invited us. It takes awhile to play so we stopped after about an hour and will continue another night–looking forward to that!

Southern Methodist University

Today we drove over to SMU and wandered around campus. It was pretty quiet, with a few students congregating in small groups, people on bikes, a couple of families walking together, some workmen planting flowers or completing construction projects. It was overcast and breezy, which cut the heat.  Sarah called while we were walking so I talked with her for a short while. School’s out for her kids and they made it through the online/home schooling adventure.

Texas is opening up more and more and it seems like lots of people are driving around, going to and from work or other activities. Meanwhile, cases of covid19 continue to rise. Dallas County had 199 new cases today.  Total cases for Dallas Co: 7036. Deaths: 164. It worries me that people don’t take this seriously and I fear we will have many more deaths through the summer.