|Room For Tourists by Edward Hopper, 1945|
As I write this, we are at over 280,000 deaths in the this county, by official count. Hospital beds are approaching critical state, and there is nowhere to send people. We are hitting 9/11 levels of death, every day. There are some bright spots on the horizon for vaccines, but the current administration, soon to be former, has pretty much revealed they have no real plan for distribution, and no plan to make a plan. There are tough times ahead.
Add to this the seasonal challenge in this part of the world. Seattle is tucked in the upper lefthand corner of the Continental US, so far north that the bulk of Canada's population is actually further south than we are. This means that summers are unnaturally long, but then again, so are winter nights. We lose the sun about four in the afternoon, and do not see dawn until after seven in the morning. In the days when I had a commute, I was used to arriving at work in darkness. Now I do the same, but at least I don't have to wear shoes.
Our household Thanksgivings have been sprawling affairs, with friends from our various lives filling one (and occasionally two) long tables, with everyone bringing something to contribute. This year we rolled with the punches. I still brined and slow-roasted a turkey, the Lovely Bride made rolls, gravy, and cranberry sauce, and friends provided wine and a plethora of sides. Then we loaded everything up in the bajillion take-out containers accumulated over the previous eight months and we engaged in an epic delivery schedule, then gathered together on a Zoom call as we shared a meal. It was a major challenge, and the team rose to it.
Oh, there was an election, as well, also noted in these pages. Republicans were roundly voted down in this state, so as is typical for the GOP, they have cried foul and refused to admit it. No one cares. The top Republican in Washington State is our Secretary of State, and the nuttier Republicans are mad at her for standing up for the voters. So we have a chance of surviving as well, from their side. Pity that the current federal administration that has done so much to enable this crisis now is dragging its feet to help the next guy accomplish anything.
Our communications with the outside world are few and far between. Grocery shopping (the local Safeway is awash with masks, though we never quite caught on to the idea of one-way aisles). Once a week for new comics (fewer now than usual). Waving at passersby while raking leaves. We had an exterminator in that found mice within the foundation wall. Communications with our work is mostly video calls and slack channels. The cats have adapted well, and take for granted that we are around all the time.
And the local newspaper has shrunk, literally. Last week I noticed that the front page is about a half-inch smaller than the earlier issues that were to be recycled. There was a disruption for a couple days when they said they had a printing problem. Apparently the solution is a printing press that is slightly smaller. I did not find the local paper mentioning this to anyone in their pages. The magazines have been bearing up as well, the New Yorker talking about people bearing up under COVID, the Bon Appetite talking about restaurants that, hopefully, will open once this particular grim reaper passes on. One of the good things I have discovered is the Canadian version of the Great British Baking show, which captures a lot of fun and supportive innocence of the early editions of the show in England.
We have been fortunate, if one can call it that. We have remained healthy, even though friends of friends and colleagues working in other states have suffered illness and loss from this. We are careful, but even avoiding super-spreader events does not provide immunity. We look for this passing, but not today, not tomorrow, and not next month. But it will pass.
We are at the end of the beginning, I think, and I have hope for that which comes next. Because I fear if we let things get worse.