A penny for your thoughts.

The Reckoning

After weeks of vacillating decisions and the lack of a clear path from our leader, today, March 30, the last day of the month, three weeks after our voluntary social distancing and  isolation, he was finally convinced to extend the lockdown until the end of April or longer if necessary. From my visit to the post office, it’s an optimist time line. There are three different sets of doors at the post, each door has two handles for a total of twelve handles used to open the doors. There are hundred of people using this post office everyday. Wouldn’t it be prudent to leave the doors open? I feel sorry for the workers, I have no idea how they cope but it must be unnerving to be stuck behind a counter in these scary times. The killer is invisible. I wear a mask everywhere I expect to be around people, so did the young woman ahead of me at the store’s cashier. She had the civilian hazmat suit on and kept rigorous social distance while we encountered each other in the aisles. Most shoppers were following the six feet rule, an encouraging sign that most folks are taking the matter seriously. A lot were wearing gloves as I did. There was a peaceful civility in that strange ballet. Troubled only by my concern for the employee’s welfare, for they, like the clerks behind the post office counters, are at the front of this battle against the virus. If I believed in any sort of god, I would pray deeply for their safety. There are not pop star or sports star salaries worth that could these folks for the jobs they are doing now for all of us. To shop, I used the caddy again. I now keep it in the car when I am done. It does not enter home as I unpack it’s contents outside our entrance door. Nothing that comes home is not properly cleaned or washed before been shelved. It’s getting to be easier as I am getting better at it.

I know that there are cases in town, the virus has already claimed a victim in a nearby nursing home were my friend Paul has spent his entire adult life. The death of a patient and the confirmation of other cases near him is frightening. I have not looked at the latest figures as it does not make a difference in my new habits. There are dreadful projections of hundred to two hundred thousand deaths. Hospitals are been erected in Central Park and the Javits Center in Manhattan and the hospital ship has arrived. New Orleans is badly touched by the virus, a result of the last Mardi Gras. Churches here and there, and their pastors, ignoring the threat and comparing the virus to Satan, tell the flocks to pray for protection, while gathering thousand folks in the same building, elbow to elbow. A school called their students back for study resulting in a dozen contaminations. These folks have to be stopped if we want to eradicate the virus. Or, send the churches the bill for the care they’ll need when infected.

Wagner, yes again, a short Opera, only less than four hour, is our entertainment today. Tannhäuser, the Opera in question, greeted me when I came back from shopping. It spins a story involving Venus and the Virgin Mary. That’s some combination! I can’t explain anymore, my attention to it is quite sparse, the music in the background is enough to admire without really knowing who did what to whom. To tell you the truth, I would prefer some Mozart or Bizet, but it’s the Metropolitan’s season and we are watching it as produced.
The news are fixed on covid. One of the story circulating from the start of the crisis, and still maintained by the CDC and the administration’s health experts, pushing folks not to wear masks, supposedly because they may be placed incorrectly or because they would induce the wearer to touch his or her face more often then not. That position, taken without any serious study or data, was basically fake news. Imagine that, from an administration whose president, the man who determines his course of action from an anchor at a propaganda machine. It would be almost comical if that disinformation did not costs lives. The question is why? Why would they feed us such dangerous propaganda? I tried to find an answer, started writing and after hundred words, edited all, as I have no sane answer. It leaves me with great sadness to see my adopted country act in such an unethical way. And you may think I am naive. Perhaps, but endangering a whole population of the United States takes us to another level of crass. You may say I am exaggerating but I am not, everyone of us is at risk, so far no body is immune to the virus. Perhaps our president did not want his citizens to wear masks. That would have made us look too much like people in some countries in Asia, using masks to filter the coal polluted air they breathe. Perhaps it has to do with his love for “clean” coal, who knows, the one thing we know, is that, in this administration, the rules come from the top.

I am glad now that I followed my gut feeling, seeing folks in China, in Korea, in Italy and now the rest of Europe, with masks on their faces. I only have the two found in the garage, I keep them clean by spraying alcohol and letting sit for 15 minutes. I do that in the car, it feels safer and I use the heat ports on the dashboard, with heat at full blast, to remove any trace of humidity. I believe I can keep those for a long while by alternating their use.

There are news from Italy that the curve may be showing signs of flattening. That would be long overdue good news and I hope for my friends in Italy that it’s true, my old friend Corinne, who is one of three friends I still connect with online. Then there is the couple of artists, husband and wife and traveling companions, Laurie and Blair, two expatriates living now in Italy, too close to covid. I do hope the curb flattens and that covid is defeated. My hopes turns into the reality of news. If we project the Italian data to our population, the prospects of a quick quarantine gets grimmer and grimmer. A new expression has been created, Darwinian Federalism, or the dereliction of duty of an administration putting the onus of responsibility on States. Some states are totally oblivious and take very few protective measures while others sacrifice for the good of all. So we sit, and wait, hoping the measures we take individually keep us from infection.
Today, no Wagner. Dialogues of the Carmelites by Poulenc is on the program. Carolle, had already seen it and found it depressing, and not inclined to watch it again. After a dozen hours of Wagner, I was ready for something different. My other reason was that I knew Carmelites, they had a convent in the town I was born and were I spent my youth. Out of the Carmelites came a saint adored world wide, Sainte Therese de l’Enfant Jesus, the weakly child of a jeweler and watch maker. The Carmelites taught Sunday School in my neighborhood, the bicycle tires I flattened one day after school, belonged to a Carmelite. Adding that the story takes place during the French Revolution, it made sense for me to watch it. Carolle was right, the story is downright depressing, with the Nun Superior exhaling her last breath for what seems an eternal time, and in excruciating pain just about renounces the Almighty. The Opera ends when all nuns are beheaded. I did not like my Carmelites when I was a kid, specially the part of kneeling on a square ruler, but I did not wish for them to be shortened. From the first glance at the first scene of the first Act, Blanche’s (the heroine) father sits in a chair reading a book. The decor is eighteen century French, the actor wears appropriate brocades and is reading a book. He was not wearing sneakers and I wonder why then was he reading a book made in the late twentieth century. A book from the period can be bought for only a few bucks, why use something that is totally out of of place on a set? That bugged me almost as much as those old Ralph Lauren ads in which books in disrepair are shown in luxury settings. Poulenc’s Carmelites is much shorter than any of Wagner’s works we have seen so far, but still long enough to fill a couple of hours of background sound.

As the sun showed up, clearing the sky of the clouds we’ve had the last couple of days, and with Carolle’s leg fine after all, we took a stroll around the neighborhood, this time  a long loop that paralleled the highway. The houses bordering the streets are vestiges of an opulent past when the mill by the river was in full production, many decades ago. That’s when workers and bosses lived near the factory, the more modest houses nearby and the more stately further up on the hill, were the owners lived. There was no commuting then, life was simpler. Today, the robins were busy, with plenty of them around at this time of year. One of them was pulling a worm from the ground. I had forgotten how comical the image was, with the worm stretched out like a rubber band and the bird pulling until the worm finally gave up, ending in the beak of the robin who immediately flew away. Just like the first crocuses we spotted last time we walked, the birds helped us forget, for an instant, the dreadful virus. Two hens in a yard, pretty birds, surprised us. Here we were in the middle of town, certainly not expecting to encounter farm animals. Perhaps they were pets. The owner, busy cleaning the yard, waved at us and we waived back. Daffodils and forsythias were more visible now that March was turning into April, and the trees pushing out of dormancy, are starting to look greener. The long walk was welcomed, and now that the weather becomes more clement, we can enjoy more excursions in our newfound neighborhood. Life is not that bad when one can walk.

On the news, the numbers related to covid are climbing, people and politicians are finally starting to recognize the threat covid presents, it’s not a Dems hoax anymore.