A penny for your thoughts.

Who is that Masked Man

A pleasant surprise today, instead of an opera the Metropolitan Opera is taking us to the artists homes where they perform a short piece of their repertory for a At Home Gala. The entertainment is international and intimate, the backgrounds as different as the artists themselves. Most Opera singers had a piano to sing along, one from Poland had an accordion player to accompany him, another a harp. Unlike the news reporters broadcasting from their dwellings, the walls were lively with art or posters, books were also prominent. A fish tank here, a plant, and furnishings of all periods produced good human vibes and more appreciation for the artists belting arias with very little background music. It’s A patchwork of musicians, playing their instruments from home, filled our tv screen, a virtual orchestra conducted over the bandwidths, the technology of it baffling but welcomed, and  we watched, listened and enjoyed the show immensely.

It kept us entertained for a couple of hours. Afterward we took a well needed walk with the purpose of getting a pie and a couple of loaves of bread from the pizzeria on Main Street. It’s a 15 minutes walk and long enough to open our appetite. We passed by our old house and I was filled by memories of buying a neglected fixer upper, only to sell it only a year after we finished its 15 years rehabilitation. A dwelling becomes part of its inhabitants and the emotions run deep when memories are brought back. The daffodils we planted years ago on the frontage were showing an abundance of yellow against the grey clapboards walls, it was a warming sight on a rather cloudy afternoon.

The pizza was delicious, the thin crust helped by a few minutes on the oven stone to a crispy layer upon which laid a nutritious mixture of cheese and vegetables. Reading, listening or watching covid news I am always finding new facts or new ‘tricks’ to lessen the risk of contamination. Today, it’s the use of nylon stockings fabric as an extra protection for face coverings, making the mask fit tighter around one’s head and reducing air gaps around the face. I will definitely destroy one of Carolle’s pair for the cause. Bad news arrive faster than good ones, infected folks who recovered from covid infections are not immune, according to the experts. That’s distressing and will further people’s anxieties and fears to get back to normal, specially that testing is still far from been adequate, in fact it has been dismal. More alarming news about covid and its killing skills, is that it attacks several organs of the human body, brain included. Covid has a bad effect on blood, the worse adverse effect is unusual clotting sometimes leading to strokes in patient young and old. A young man in our town died last week of a stroke, a strong and reserved teenager well liked by his peers. The newspaper article does not mention covid, but death is always tragic and unjust when young people die, covid or not, and the town is saddened by the news.
Getting precise figure on covid death in our small town of 34,000 inhabitants is a matter of news links gymnastics. As far as I can gather in Connecticut we have seen 24,582 infections and 1,862 deaths. In the micropolitan Litchfield county spearheaded by our town we count 834 infections and 73 dead from covid, and so far 22 still hospitalized. That’s if you trust the numbers in light of the testing fiasco and the underreported deaths at home or elsewhere. With news of another milestone, I am again paying attention to the latest numbers of global deaths. Two hundred thousand folks have succumbed to covid according to the latest data. That’s a large number, but we are bracing for more while covid is on the run, the chaotic responses to the pandemic enabling its spread and, as sure as the sun will set this evening, the numbers of casualties will rise quickly until a magic bullet is found. Thought and prayers are not gonna be enough. After the first reported local death due to covid, March 6, the response of our town officials sums up the degree of urgency they perceived and their reaction to it. “It’s very sad,” the Mayor said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of this individual”.

That’s nice, everyone should have thoughts and prayers, even the fiercest atheists should. But in my opinion, a strong alert to the pandemic should have been raised in our town, instead of sticking to the president’s playbook of diminishing the threat of infections and adopting the do nothing or do little (too much government) often seen from conservative politicians. When I contacted town hall to raise my concerns of an inadequate first page in pandemic times, I did not do it out of political reasons, I really could not care less whose party is running the town, progressives or conservatives, none of that mattered, what was important was the education it would have provided town folks, because many are still not respecting the protocols mandated by the health officials. It has been over a week since I contacted the mayor’s office when I was told:
“I have our city clerk working on the page modification. Again, many thanks for the suggestions! It’s all about the message!!”
You would think that a week time would be enough, in light of the seriousness of the message. After all, as a crude example on how quickly and with rudimentary knowledge of html, one can create a functioning website in less than one hour, and that’s with securing a new domain name. I know because I did just that once on the way to a show in Allentown, my friend was driving and I built the website on my mobile phone. By the time we reached our destination, we had a searchable front page. And I am not a wizard at html, been self taught, but the task of adding information on a page should not take more than ten minutes once one knows what to publish. Why is there reticence to inform the citizens of our town to pay attention to the severity covid presents to all, and to advise them of the proper protocols? Some politicians are walking the line not realizing that lives could be spared by raising awareness in the public when catastrophes fall upon us. At least our elected local leaders are not pushing for bleach injections, that would be more deadly than the unfortunately inadequate warnings to our citizenry.

My two requests to the company managing our building have so far received no response. The brick holding our front gate open, a gate made of heavy steel with a rather recalcitrant lock that unlocks only when the key is in a certain position, has been taken away twice. The brass handle shines from its constant daily use by the dwellers of this 120 units complex. Some folks want to keep that gate open, thus eliminating contact with possible traces of covid. Granted that copper alloys have germicidal properties, according to science, any brasses were almost completely bactericidal at 4 °C within 180–360 minutes, still the immediate danger exists. Thankfully, the rear of the parking lot has a good pile of bricks left over from a long over project.  But aside the tenants and units owners precautionary steps, no other means of protection and no cleaning in the common areas has been done since our confinement. Can the neglect be called a dereliction of duty?

The number of covid related deaths will soon surpass the numbers of American deaths during the war with Vietnam, in less than three month. The sad part, besides the lives lost and all the misery around it, is that we are in the mist of the pandemic, this is our war and it is not over, it only started, and we can expect more deaths from covid. The more I write about covid, the more repetitive I sound, not by design, but because the news keep on publishing the same alarming informations of supplies penury and shortage of already exhausted first responders.

Our Sunday was busy, and for the first time since our lockdown, we did not watch Opera. We spent time tying up the loft, rearranging and reorganizing the pantry, keeping busy to spend time. The weather is not getting better, intermittent sleet and rain kept us inside and with nowhere to go we are creative with our time in the loft. I finally wired a new outlet to the pantry, and took advantage of the easy access under the staircase to change a recessed single outlet to a quad. The small distance between the new quad, the feed for my new line, and the closet made it easy to conceal the line in the wall, an esthetic must for Carolle. She keeps a part of her shoe collection on the pantry’s top shelf and 21 shoe boxes have filled the shelf. She took the opportunity to cull some, a pair of Ralph Lauren bought in the 70’s, resoled at least once and showing quite a bit of wear, another pair of RL, this one pink sandals sporting thin high heels, together with another dozen pairs she does not care for, or should I say, she cares less for. There are more shoes stored in the various bins still unopened since we moved. For a woman with only two feet, she sure has a lot of shoes. Notice that I am only mentioning shoes, we did not get into boots this time, we still are in a lockdown, time is on our side.
When I went to buy electrical supplies for my closet/pantry project, the store at the hilltop was adhering to the recommended precautions, people wearing masks and keeping distances, same for the employees except one happy go lucky greeting shoppers around the aisles. I told him he ought to wear a mask. The public was respectful keeping distances as well as was feasible, all in a courteous way. I took advantage of  my roundabout to stop by the large store nearby to get milk, fruits and batteries. Most folks wore mask, except for a couple of youngsters, but the  most disturbing was mothers or couples with children shopping together. The employees, except one tall guy, were wearing masks and there was an employee cleaning carts as they got back from the parking lot. It made shopping way less stressful when all people are aware of their environment in the time of covid. The view outside our windows would be gloomy if it was not for our tree now in full bloom, its white flowers and greenery more visible against the grey sky. The good thing is, no one wants  to frolic around in bad weather, staying inside is not so bad.

With more folks wearing face coverings we are becoming a faceless society. Strangely, now people are looking more like me, as I have worn a mask for six weeks. Then my attire must have made a strange image in some folks minds, but now I am part of the norms. There is something satisfying about that, a new sense of belonging, something I had not felt in quite some time, before covid.